Standing waves and the three causes of sound
The entire concept of sound and Creation lies in standing waves, which are a particular and unique type of wave. They are a pattern caused by an interference phenomenon in which two waves passing through the same medium, having the same frequency, travel in opposite directions.
Along every standing wave pattern, there are points along the medium that appear to be standing still (nodal points, nodes) and others that are at the apex of the continuously changing waveform (anti-nodes). Nodes are always located at the same points in the medium and display a "solid" characteristic, while anti-nodes induce motion and support vibration.
In string instruments, a string is held between the end of the pegbox and the bridge and tensioned. When it is plucked, its first vibration involves its full length. During the second vibration, its length splits in two, giving rise to two oscillations with a nodal point in their center. As more vibrations take place, the string's length further splits in multiples and many nodes become apparent.
When a violinist touches on the string or pushes it against the fingerboard, he reduces its the length, therefore altering sound upward. Nodes and antinodes result likewise, taking into account the new length of the string.
In a standing wave, three components, or causes, are therefore required:
- a wave at a certain frequency travelling in a certain direction
- another wave with the same frequency travelling in the opposite direction of the first
- a medium, which acts as a sort of battlefield where the two waves antagonize and allows nodes to exist
The first wave is like the Creative Thought, causing the reaction chain that will produce a sound. The second wave tries to annull and disrupt the first wave, to re-establish a balance again. But doing so, only causes the medium to become involved, finally producing sound.
In order to better understand the three causes and their implications, we will go back to our meditation exercise. In the blank screen of our mind put in silent mode, we said that all thoughts are there in power, but they did not manifest in action, yet. They are all there, only waiting to become known. By making our mind silent, we imitate the Work of Creation, imitating the initial Nothingness.
A will (of thinking) creates the first thought, which is like a stone thrown into a still surface of water. This thought did not become manifested, yet. We are still before Creation. However, this first thought is really the only thing that was created out of Nothing. All further developments are just the outcome of this first "perturbation" that took place in the Nothingness, Creation included.
This first thought is the object of that which the unnamed will wanted to think. The will desires to think its thought. Therefore, it has the properties of hunger, which feeds from itself. The thought wants to grow, expand, as the ripples in the water caused by the stone. In order to do that, it must know itself, define its purposes and operational field. We linked this modality of thoughts to circles. A point starts to draw a line, but it is curved, till the end of the motion joins its beginning. And from here, it starts the cycle all over again. Vibration is just that. We can represent it in the form of a sine wave, a circle, or a pendulum. We are just using different images to depict the same concept.
Thus, a hunger is that which feeds the first circle. The hunger causes a void inside the circle (empty stomach), which calls for an increase in feeding. As nothing else exsists in the initial Nothingness, the thought can only feed from itself, till it reaches satiety.
The emptiness in the middle of the circle causes a diametrically opposite motion to form, right inside the first circle, which tries to annull and destroy it. It is as a person in jail, trying to break his chains and the walls of the prison.
As the fight between the two increases and feeds from the antagonism of one against another, their character becomes evident. The first cause is a sort of black hole, displaying a centripetal movement. It tends to closure, darkness, cold, solidification, hardness, matter, manifestation, as it wants to exist by separating itself out of Nohingness. It is like a black hole, eating up anything it can find.
Conversely, the second cause inflames the fight, tends to expansion, freedom, light. Actually, it is the ony real motion that happens outside the first cause. It is the explosive force that will cause the black hole to explode, causing the Big Bang and has a centrigugal nature, trying to expand and break any constriction.
The two can be thought as a gas bottle. The bottle is the first cause, striving to contain the second cause. The gas is the second cause, trying to escape the bottle. In sound, the second cause is the opposite frequency that comes to disrupt the first one.
There can be no winner in this fight and the contenders find their apparent balance of force. This balance is the third cause, which comes to seal and establish the first two causes as one existing thought, or sound. Its character is anguish, as it is the battlefield where the entire fight takes place. It is the witness of the fight, which can do nothing but see. In sound, it is the plane or medium in which the vibration takes place. In a sphere, we can imagine the three causes representing the three cyclical directions that make it up.
In a wind or brass instrument, we can imagine like sound beads forming inside the tubes. Each bead is like a sphere. While the first two waves are always londigudinal, the third wave can take the form of a transverse wave (a moving wave that consists of oscillations occurring perpendicular to the direction of energy transfer).
The fact that we perceive sound is only possible because it is the outcome and interaction of the three causes. Actually, we can only sense its enbodiment - i.e. the third cause. The three act as one, as we cannot differentiate among them and we perceive them as a single entity.
As we said, the third cause is an anguish, because it stems from an eternal fight. As there is a physical resonance, there is also a spiritual resonance. Thus, the listener resonating with the music he is listening to feels, somehow, the same anguish of the composer.
The human being does not have separate receptors for pleasure and pain. They are the same receptors that activate in the brain. It is a scientific puzzle to understand how we are able to distinguish between the two, as they display approximately identical response. Therefore, with "anguish" we include the broader meaning of feelings. It may be a pleasurable feeling, but it always shares the characteristics of persistency drawing our attention and energic focus.