Water Sound Images
The Creative Music of the Universe
by Alexander Lauterwasser
Translated from the German by Gunter Maria Zielke and interpreted by Jeff Volk. MACROmedia Publishing, New Hampshire, USA, 2006.
Reviewed by James D’Angelo for Caduceus Magazine, UK.
Over the last 20 years or so there has been a drawing together of cutting-edge science, especially quantum physics and cosmology, and a transcendental spirituality that postulates that nothing in this world is actually separate from anything else. At every level, physical, subtle and causal, there are invisible patterns of unity and oneness interconnecting all the worlds. To become aware of such structures pierces the veil of Maya (illusion), moves beyond the realm of opposites (eg. good and evil) and provides a taste of the ultimate reality or Truth.
At the physical level the intricacies, beauty and interrelationships of what could be called ‘the super-conscious designs of the universe’ are gradually being revealed. From this perspective there is no essential difference between the structure of an atom, a galaxy, a chakra, a crop circle or even the Sufi whirling dervish ceremony. It is only a matter of scale and perception – ‘as above, so below’. Within these phenomena lies something, some process perhaps, that suggests this super-conscious design with its fundamental, archetypal patterns and displays of unity.
One phenomenon that has helped to open the doorway to the ultimate reality is regularly vibrating sound, which has been shown to be the means by which matter and substance reveal their inner core - the sacred geometry of their very existence.
The individual who first demonstrated that the phenomenon of sound could shape substances into geometric-like patterns was the German physicist and musician Ernst Chladni (1756-1827). His method was quite simple. Covering a freestanding, metal plate with sand, he drew a violin bow across its edge. Depending on how this was done, the sand was shaped into various, clearly symmetrical patterns. Later on the 19th century French scientist Lissajous created geometrical designs by intersecting two sine wave curves. In the ‘50s and ‘60s pioneering work in this field was carried on by the Swiss physician Hans Jenny (1904-72), who described his experiments as Cymatics (the study of wave phenomena). The variety of geometrical and symmetrical forms created when sound waves were applied to powders, pastes and liquids still remains astounding to see (see CYMATICS, combined volumes 1 and 2 by Hans Jenny, MACROmedia Publishing, 2001). In recent times Masaru Emoto in Japan has demonstrated that the memory of water is very extraordinary so that, having been exposed to classical music, for example, water in its frozen state produces beautiful, geometrical crystals.
Now enter the figure of Alexander Lauterwasser, following in the footsteps of Chladni and Jenny, and his experiments with water and sound. In his book, translated from the German, we are presented with a profuse, magical collection of colour photographs of water that has been irradiated with music East and West (including gongs, overtone singing, Tibetan monks chanting and Sufi music and composers from Bach to Stockhausen) and pure sine wave frequencies. Almost every page has some form of illustration, either a pattern of Nature or a vibrational pattern made by sound. If the water/sound photographs were all there were to the book one could simply revel in the wonder of their sacred geometry and they could serve as meditative yantras. Absolutely stunning, for example, are a series of 128 circular water/sound images at the end of the book which appear like pieces of jewellery in the form of brooches.
The visuals of these often golden shapes are supplemented with other pictures drawn from Nature that clearly show how the inner structures of water, responding to vibration, have their parallels in the form of starfish, jellyfish, cacti, flowers, shells, the patterns on animals, cloud formations and land masses. The illustrations and the text move to deeper levels and delve into self-organization and formation, the states of the oscillating atom and the very essence of matter. These interrelationships between vibration and substance as they relate to cosmogenesis and to theories of morphogenetic fields (as described by Rupert Sheldrake) impart a powerful impression of the underlying unity of Creation, certainly the primary theme of the book.
Lauterwasser has paid great homage to Ernst Chladni, the father of Western acoustics, by devoting one part of the book to an exploration of his sound figures. He has produced a wide variety of Chladni patterns including extraordinary multiple images of such figures as they evolve through frequencies of 100-20,000 Hertz (cycles per second). Particularly striking are patterns that correspond uncannily to that of the shell of a turtle which, typically, Lauterwasser pairs with a poem entitled The Turtle by Schickler.
Water Sound Images is both a scientifically based and a poetical, mythological (opening chapter) and philosophical book. This is its great strength and sets it apart from so many books that are either one or the other. The explanation of the physics of sound seen in images throughout the book is presented quite clearly and concisely in two detailed chapters so that those who prefer a scientific approach to the physical facts will have their intellects satisfied. Its poetical and philosophical side is represented by a rich array of quotations that enhance the watery geometry by such figures as Novalis, Plato, Hegel, Shakespeare, Rilke, Rumi, Hoderlein, Melville, Mann, Steiner, Govinda and Stockhausen. In fact, the very foundation of the book rests upon the contributions of these writers and it is easy to see how much Lauterwasser draws inspiration for his research from them. These passages increase the contemplative aspect of both reading the text and viewing the pictures. So, while the process is scientific, the experience is an artistic and aesthetic one that speaks directly to the heart. In this it is like music, both a science and an art.
Water Sound Images is superbly laid out with the text double-spaced for easy reading. A feature that other editors would do well to follow is that the credits and sources appear immediately in the body of the text and in capital letters with page references. These then leads to the bibliography if one wishes to follow them up. The majority of the bibliography is in German. However, the English ones are underlined for easy reference. Those books that are most closely related to Lauterwasser’s work are given brief descriptions and a resource guide is provided with handy website addresses.
James D’Angelo leads therapeutic sound workshops in the UK, Europe and the USA (www.soundspirit.co.uk) and is the author of The Healing Power of the Human Voice (Healing Arts Press, Vermont, USA, 2005).
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