~ Getting In Tune with the Schumann Resonances ~
Rich Goodhart, February 2019
(Yes, “resonances”, plural – there's more than one.)
As with many ideas and practices in the sound healing and new age scenes there is much misunderstanding floating about, and the reality of the Schumann Resonances is no exception. That such misunderstandings (and maybe sometimes intentional misinformation?) commonly exist is enough of a challenge, but that such erroneous information is too often propagated by well-known and respected new age gurus only adds significantly to the confusion. Videos and written statements by some of these teachers are often rife with errors. (And this article has nothing to do with Rife, a topic in itself that is too often rife with errors!)
To begin with, it isn't "the Schumann resonance", singular, as it is often referred to, but the Schumann resonances, plural. There are many, at intervals of approximately 6.5Hz. Thus, beginning with the primary and most quoted resonance of 7.83Hz, we then have 14.3Hz, 20.8Hz, 27.3Hz, 33.8Hz and more. There is also a lower one that doesn't follow the pattern and fluctuates between about 3.5 - 4Hz or so. All of these numbers are averages as they all fluctuate depending on atmospheric conditions, magnetic field activity, and primarily on solar activity. It is significant to note that these resonances are not in any “in tune” harmonic relationship with each other.
Another common and primary misconception is to call the most prominent one, the 7.83Hz resonance, "the electromagnetic frequency of the earth" or “the resonance of the earth”, “the fundamental tone of the planet” or “the correct frequency of the earth” etc, but this is not accurate, not even close. There isn't a singular electromagnetic frequency of the earth. The magnetic field of the earth, which is believed to be generated by electromagnetic process deep within the earth's core, has a wide range of fluctuating frequencies and that which are very much not the Schumann resonances. Further, the Schumann resonances are electromagnetic resonances found in the space between the earth's surface and the ionosphere – a condition and artifact of the atmosphere, not of any vibrations emanating from the planet itself. These atmospheric resonances are activated by lightning, and their oddly inharmonic frequencies are determined by the imperfectly spherical atmospheric cavity. The resonance fluctuations are caused by the varying size and shape of the upper atmosphere/ionosphere layer extremity, and this variability is most significantly caused by solar flares.
Again, the Schumann resonances are not “of the earth”, are not generated by nor are a resonance of the physical body of the earth. And again, it is lightning that actually activates these resonances, not that lightning causes an “earth frequency” to fluctuate, as some have stated. Being clear about this, I also realize that one can make the case for our earth's atmosphere to itself be “of the earth”, and of course it is this atmosphere that we live and breath in. This reality isn't lost on me, nor do I believe it to be an insignificant consideration. However, when one then speaks of our natural condition to be in the resonant field of 7.83Hz, and that is our fundamental tuning note, and that increasing our 'dosage' of this tone will somehow give us greater health or awaken our consciousness to higher realms, one then also needs to consider the full expression of Schumann resonances. As mentioned earlier they are not harmonically in tune with themselves**. What then does it mean to be attuned to, or existing in the resonant field of such a collection of inharmonic tones? I have no idea. However, being that the amplitude of the Schumann waves electrical field is so significantly smaller than the amplitude of the static fair-weather electrical field (around 300 microvolts per meter compared to around 150 Volts per meter); and the Schumann resonances magnetic field amplitude is many orders of magnitude smaller than the earth's magnetic field, it is quite possible that there is exactly no felt or measurable effect on us from the Schumann resonances, regardless of how dissonant the intervals are.
We of course all know that there is no shortage of misinformation on the internet about all sorts of topics, and in regard to the Schumann resonances one can easily find more than what I've mentioned here in this brief article. One additional and common example that I'll address is the claim that “the Schumann resonance is rising” and that this is an indication of planetary changes – even an indicator of awakening or heightening consciousness among earth's inhabitants. One very “science” appearing and claiming website addresses this by saying: "Schumann resonance has been...pulsating exactly at 7.83 Hz for thousands of years", and that since June 2014 there have been significant increases. They go on to say: "It is concluded that these changes clearly show that the planet is changing."Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) no such conclusion has been made by reputable science, particularly since there hasn't been any such changes observed. Winfried Otto Schumann mathematically predicted these resonances in 1952 and they were first successfully measured in the early 1960's. No significant changes in frequency since then have been noted (regardless of the colorful charts we might see claiming so), other than usual solar flare induced fluctuations. Also, again, 7.83Hz is an average – it hardly pulsates “exactly at 7.83Hz” for a whole day let alone “for thousands of years” (usual variation is around +/- 0.5Hz every day, with larger variations during extreme solar activity). It is likely that the averages have been consistent for quite a bit longer than thousands of years.
As far as being able to "uncode the mysteries of our planet earth" or “access higher consciousness” by attuning to that one particular frequency (as some have suggested), well, have those who believe this been able to do so? I'll leave it to others to research that question if they wish.
A note regarding our brains and brain waves: there are many different and fluctuating frequency electromagnetic waves happening all the time in our brains. The Theta range is generally considered to be 4-7Hz, or 4-8Hz, and the Alpha range 8-12Hz (these numbers often vary slightly depending on source quoted - it is not an exact science). Thus, the 7.83Hz Schumann resonance occurs at the transition of Alpha to Theta. What does this mean, beyond coincidence? I don't know and I'm not sure that anyone knows. The lower 3-4Hz Schumann resonance is at the top of the Delta range, bottom of Theta. The next in line 14.8Hz Schumann resonance is in lower Beta range. Tuning forks that create a sub-aural 7.83Hz difference tone between them, and other products that create (or claim to create) a 7.83Hz vibration, may or may not have an effect on our consciousness and/or biology. Will it be more significant, more “special”, more mystically or cosmically profound than 7.5Hz or 8.2Hz or 9.31Hz etc (if any effect is in actuality created and measurable)? If so, I'd be most glad to see some research on it, or detectable evidence of such effects.
~ copyright 2019, Rich Goodhart ~
Some proponents like to round off the 7.83Hz to a convenient 8Hz, thinking it's “close enough”, and then do the Pythagorean Fifths math that shows it in alignment with 432Hz.
8x2=16, 16x2=32, 32x2=64, 64x2=128
128 x 1.5=192, 192 x 1.5=288, 288 x 1.5 = 432 …. A=432Hz
However, if we stick with the actual average primary Schumann resonance frequency of 7.83Hz and do the math we arrive at:
A=422.82Hz ….not exactly evidence of “432 in nature”, not nearly close enough.
Now if we look at several of the other Schumann resonances, and bring them up four octaves each into audible range:
That first interval is actually an approximately 3Hz sharp minor 7th , in Just Intonation.
Frequency math wizards, have fun with those numbers and let us know what other relationships you might find!
Maybe someone would be willing to make and upload a sound file of those five tones played simultaneously as a chord – The Schumann Chord TM – it could be the Next Big Thing!!
~ R.G., 2019
Additional Note: Two more notable false claims found in the “literature”
~ “This number (7.83Hz) is important because it’s the same frequency our brains use to survive and thrive.”
- Sorry, but no scientific or medical evidence that our brains use this or any other specific frequency to survive, thrive or even operate at a basic level with. Our brains generate many frequencies and when healthy are in continuous variability. Whether or not our brains in some way "calibrate" or "tune up" to a planetary "reference tone" is an idea that may have merit but one that has yet to be verifiably demonstrated.
~ “In early space missions, astronauts became surprisingly weak and ill when they went into space and left the resonance of the earth behind. They (NASA) now alleviate this distress by having a vibrational device attached to the ships that resonates at the Schumann Resonance.”
- Simply stated, NASA does not do this.
(Most of the many cross-referenced sources for the information in this article were found on the internet and are available for all to see and corroborate, or explore further. Always check your sources sources, whenever possible! ~ R.G.)