Music for the Mind is a unique, auditory stimulation program using the rich and intricate music of Persian musician Ostad Elahi. The four CD set features world music combined with psychoacoustic techniques, gentle filtration and nature sounds. As with Sound Health® and Music for Babies™ the program is available to the general public and can be ordered directly from ABT or an Authorized Provider.
Ostad Elahi was a master musician and virtuoso of the tanbour for whom music was above all a means of inner reflection and contemplation. Tanbour is a generic term used to designate a class of lutes whose necks are longer than their bodies. It has been used almost exclusively for devotional purposes since the 15th century.
When the music of Ostad was first introduced to Advanced Brain Technologies, we were immediately interested in its potential therapeutic applications. The project was first conceived by Brainquiry, LLC after one of the companies members attended a TLP Training Course to become an Authorized Provider.
Brainquiry realized that ABT was examining various kinds of music to determine if they contained possible therapeutic qualities. They saw that trainers Richard Lawrence and Alex Doman were very knowledgeable about the effects of music. They also found it very interesting that they had a deep understanding of intention in music and to them this was tremendously important.
Brainquiry had been very moved by Ostad’s music and found that it had an affect different than listening to most music. They proposed their idea to Alex: that Ostad’s music might prove to be ideal for sound stimulation and would appeal to a broad audience who enjoyed listening to music from cultures other than western european.
ABT found Ostad’s music offers a unique and powerful opportunity for promoting active listening for several reasons. All the music is improvised which gives it a free quality, while the unusual harmonic and rhythmic structures cause the brain to be attentive in a dramatic way.
With repeated listening the language of the music starts to reveal itself, yet we constantly encounter slight twists and turns that prevent the mind from placing the music into a known format. Since auditory stimulation programs often are created to move us from a place where we are stuck, Ostad’s music seemed particularly well suited for our purpose of encouraging active listening.
Moreover, the tonal qualities of the tanbour are quite dramatic. When we conducted a digital spectral analysis, we found the dense range of high frequencies in the music to be more intense than in any other instrument we had previously analyzed. This density can partially be attributed to the fact that Ostad often played multiple notes per second that built on each other’s harmonics. Furthermore, the percussive nature of the sound creates the effect of audio bursting to the unaccustomed western ear.
ABT decided to break the music into sections that are easier for the ear to digest, so it would be pleasing to both the Eastern and Western ear. We took small phrases from Ostad’s playing and used them as introductions to certain sections to draw the listener into the music. Nature sounds are often used to open the section before blending with the music, ensuring that the brain stays alert and does not habituate and tune out sounds.
We also added spatial dynamics, our method of moving the instruments or sounds of nature such as a bird, across the sound stage between the left and right ear. This enhances spatial awareness and helps the listener with auditory attention as they identify the location of sounds. The odd numbered tracks are all designed for morning listening and thus use authentic morning or daytime nature sounds, while the even numbered tracks are designed for evening listening and thus have either authentic nighttime nature sounds or none at all.