We’re fast approaching the first anniversary of Inner Sounds Online. Hard to believe that it was only last April when we unveiled the very first full length sound bath on our Digital Platform!
To keep sound healing alive in 2020, online sound baths became a necessity, but online sound healing is here to stay. Even when it will be safe again to attend in-person events, which we’re seriously looking forward to, there’s something amazing about #anywhere#anytime sound healing... especially when it’s coming from your favorite sound healer!
As Melissa’s audio producer, I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of crystal bowls, gongs, koshi chimes, and other instruments from Melissa’s collection. Drawing from that experience, I’m excited to share a few major revelations about Melissa’s sound healing (both IRL and On-Demand).
Intention & Intuition: The Secret to Melissa's Sonic Formula
First, and not surprising, is that Melissa’s knowledge and technique is really special. If you’ve been to one of her live sound baths, you already know this. But the act of getting into the microscopic sonic details of the sounds she creates with her instruments made me appreciate this even more. Consider crystal bowls as an example… with a tiny bit of coaching, anyone can make a crystal bowl sing. Trust me, I was Melissa’s guinea pig for Inner Sounds 101 and How to Play A Crystal Bowl. There is joy in making crystal bowls sing for yourself... and if it doesn't sound good you know it right away and can adjust. It's a much different challenge when sound healing for others.
Melissa’s 10 years of experience means she knows exactly how long she wants to play each bowl, how soft or hard she wants to start the sustained note and how to layer her crystal bowls for specific effects (relaxing, energizing, theta…). She does not belabor these decisions or rely on notes or musical scores… her choices are based on a powerful sense of intuition.
So how does she use her intuition? What’s guiding her? With every decision, from selecting instruments, sequencing the sound bath, and guiding listeners in, Melissa’s overarching intention is to support the nervous system. If you've felt that aaaaaahhhhhhh moment during a live sound bath, you know what I'm talking about!
A diagram from the Inner Sounds 101 manual:
Repetition is Good and On-Demand Makes This Possible
Lemme repeat that: repetition is good! And on-demand sound healing makes repeat listening accessible.
One of Melissa’s key lessons from her own journey was the benefit from having a sound meditation routine, playing crystal bowls and gongs every day. Before Inner Sound Online though, the only way to get routine healing from Melissa was becoming a private client or perhaps chasing her around town to all her different venues. Even for her biggest fans, daily sound healing was not an option. Now with streaming sound baths, if you want dose of Melissa’s crystal bowl playing, the Mercury gong, or an ocean wave drum… BAM, it’s just a few clicks away!
Why is Repeat Listening Important? Entrainment!
Through a process called entrainment, our minds and bodies begin to associate the sounds with relaxation and a clear mind. From the first note of a crystal bowl to the dreamy conclusion of koshi chimes, our subtle body knows this feels good and reminds us of all the times sound healing has helped us. It becomes easier and faster to achieve meditative states with sound.
Personally, when I’m feeling drained and want 20 minutes of crystal bowls, Hope is right there on my phone! I love Theta Blast as a 5 minute microdose of mental decluttering. Of course, I’ve also been loving the Spring Sound Bath, with 60 minutes of pure sound, even though (confession) I’ve slept through the gongs the last two times I listened.
An Audio Producer’s Perspective on Sound Healing
One of the questions we often hear from people curious about online sound healing is…
How is streaming sound healing different than music?
Here’s my pseudo-Taoist answer:
There’s no difference and there’s every difference.
As far as the microphones are concerned, there’s no difference. Music is, after all, simply and arrangement of sounds we hear and feel in our bodies and our minds interpretation of those sounds.
Is this music?
We typically associate music with rhythm, melody, harmony, and a few other elements such as timbre (aka tone) and dynamics (loud/soft). But there’s a huuuuge difference between the sounds produced by a crystal bowl versus a saxophone. Or comparing a gong versus a snare drum. As mentioned above, Melissa is playing her instruments specifically with the nervous system in mind, and with specific intentional effects on the nervous system. The same can be said for a rock guitarist, except Eddie Van Halen wasn’t trying to calm your mind ;)
There are other special nuances of the sounds created by crystal bowls and gongs, plus we could spend an entire master class on psychoacoustic effects and sequencing a sound bath. I’ll save those for a future Sound Nerds essays and just share the fundamental lesson I've learned this past year of producing Melissa's sound baths:
3 Keys to Recording Real Sound Healing:
It must sound good IRL: the sound healer must be able to successfully translate their intentions into sound through the act of playing their instruments. When they do, it will sound good in the room. No amount of EQ, reverb, or digital processing will transform a bad sound bath into a good one.
Mic the room: if your microphones and recording device can capture the sound of the room with minimal distortion, noise, or other artifacts of the recording process, you can create a "Sonic Imprint" of that moment in time and space that can be revisited again and again by listeners #anytime#anywhere
Manage Ambient Noise: Melissa and I took great pains to manage “ambient noise”... unplugging electronics, removing jangly earrings, talking to our neighbors about their backyard construction projects, you name it, we tried it! You still might hear an occasional bird or airplane during the quieter moments, but hey, no snoring!
For the audio engineers (or merely curious) among you, there’s no magic bullet for creating a pristine audio recording. Our default mic technique was simply a pair of stereo condenser microphones, placed a reasonable distance from Melissa’s instruments with the intention of mic’ing the room.
Recording session with Uranus and Mars, July 2020 in Oakland
So instead of putting a microphone for each gong, or each crystal bowl, and then balancing those “in the mix”, we simply tried to capture the sound of Melissa’s playing as if the microphones were a private client.
One big challenge worth mentioning: Melissa and I took great pains to manage “ambient noise”... unplugging electronics, removing jangly earrings, talking to our neighbors about their backyard construction projects, you name it, we tried it! You still might hear an occasional bird or airplane during the quieter moments, but hey, no snoring!
FYI, if you’re a visual person, here’s what Melissa’s crystal bowl playing looks like in my recording software:
Recently we received the absolute best compliment about Inner Sounds Online's recordings:
“It sounded like I was in the same room as Melissa playing”
Thanks for reading,
Audio Producer, Inner Sounds Meditation
PS: If you’re curious in experiencing the full range of intentions, instruments, and durations of sound healing from Melissa, you can try out Inner Sounds Online Membership with a free with a 7-day trial.
And if you’re interested in learning more about becoming a sound healer for your self or others, read about Inner Sounds Training.