Updated: Mar 7
Affect vs Effect: Affect is a verb that means ‘to impact’; Effect is the noun, ‘the resulting change of any cause’.
This Q Today article begins with the solid conclusion that it is the subtlest of intended essence that holds the greatest power to linger in the heart. Light as a feather, easy as the breeze, natural as the babbling brook. I Ching teaches us to force nothing.
It is up to us to designate what lingers on in the heart, our own and others’. We choose what may be left in the wake of even the subtlest of interactions. I’m not suggesting the obvious or the measurable, but that which is felt. An impression…a sensation. It could be one unique colour wisp of sky in a painting that hangs on the wall in the morning light, seen at only one moment in a new day. Perhaps a shy smile in response to your greeting, or the feeling of chills from an “aha” insight is what lingers in the heart to make all the difference in a day.
At my piano, where I noodle, compose, practice and sing, I keep a reminder that points me back to keeping it simple and pure so that my intention is clearly conveyed through sound. Over the 20+ years I’ve been singing at my piano and creating new music, what I’ve wanted to create has simplified and how I want to do it has clarified. Perhaps you know me, I'm a perfectionist. Sometimes you’ll find me experimenting with one sung note, one perfect pitch, keeping the damper pedal down…just seeing what lingers through the ambient resonance of the piano strings. Hours go by. I discovered this effect as a child, long before I was a formal physics student, and it’s only been in the last decade or more that I began actively honing into creating the affect that feels like a mystical whisper from another realm.
If you happen to be like me, an audiophile, or have ever allowed music touch your soul, you’ve probably noticed how one song conveys an irreproducible atmosphere unique to that artist. They have "their sound". You probably know about reverb as a music effect. Used in recording studios back in the 80s, it was an expensive box plugged into the mixing board. Nowadays, it's a button you click on your computer in a digital audio workstation. You can select and dial up myriad qualities of the echo-like vibration that lingers on. Reverb is a time based effect that you can adjust, together with some filter settings to change the tone so that you give the song the sound of having been recorded inside cathedral made of stone or, if you prefer inside your bathroom shower. I don’t know why, but everything sounds better with a smidge of reverb, not only because it smooths out the sound to our ears, but because it feels like the sound is being carried somewhere, over hills and valleys, through the clouds… perhaps to a long-lost love.
That’s what my piano has the power to do, in my opinion, because that’s exactly the intention and sensation I imbue into it. The piano is a cabinet, essentially, inside which sound waves echo and reflect and interact... and synergizes around before wafting out into the room and beyond. The sonic party is a complex affair. Usually, the sound waves are created by playing piano keys that get hammers to strike strings. Instead of playing keys, I sing...at the piano, into the piano, anywhere near the piano. The strings respond in resonance. Creating this effect takes training and skill and loads of experimentation. Capturing that essence of swimmy atmospheric sound that carries you somewhere up in the ionosphere is another matter altogether. This is a natural reverberation that is a felt vibration through proximity of pure sound conduction, and is not mathematically produced inside a computer chip based on the 1s and 0s coming into a gate as in studio equipment. It is exactly this very natural, ghostly, effect that I have chosen to make made “my sound”. It's what I choose to linger on.
What kind of impact does this create? How does sympathetic vibration take place? Akashic Law of Affinity teaches that the perfect resonance of vibration 1 upon entity 2 (that has the ability to vibrate in the same range) is solely dependent on the purity of the signal emanating from entity 1. The material that entity 2 is made of determines the resonant effect. The two must be in sympathetic proximity, meaning, they have to be on a similar enough radio dial to tune in. My vocal range matches the upper middle two octaves on a piano. Think of my voice as signal 1 and the piano strings tuned and ready to go, waiting to receive as entity 2. My singing A440 impacts the piano strings of the same tuned A strings to start vibrating - because of the Akashic Law of Affinity (like resonates with like), when I never touched the A key on the keyboard to set the hammer to strike. In fact, the A one octave above starts resonating too, and the E between them as well, and wait….do I hear the G too (to increasingly lesser degrees)? All these notes share harmonic resonances with the fundamental A440. The octave higher is A880, mathematics of whole number fractions as relationship determines nature's harmonics. In this case 440/880 = 1/2. The E that resonates comes in at 660Hz, so the fraction of 440/660 is 2/3. No boxed buttoned anything can replace what nature does….naturally. Now we bring in entity 3, the ultra low noise-floor microphone, that bears the heavy task to capture that softly wafting swim whose impulse came through the wood of the piano soundboard reacting to my voice having just been carried through the air from where I was sat. This is not a long distance, mind you, but the sound weakens severely at each stage due to mechanical loss and furthermore, dissipates quickly with distance. Get that recorded anyway. You can barely discern it...is the soul’s mystical intention still there? Can you even hear it? If you feel it when you play the streaming track, or the CD…will hearing it even matter? Will a better quality recording make the difference?
Let's say I want to pray for the highest best outcome. One way is to scream out loud to the sky, "I want success!!!" hoping Almighy Source hears me. Or, instead, I could grow silent, focused, and feel deeply the exact outcome I want, with specificity, and inner strength certain of its power and existence. I choose the power of affect. When you join thought/intent with deep feeling, creative manifestation takes place. I choose to hear and feel the swimminess floating inside my being, I see it as love energy...touching other souls as it floats out like mirage waves above a hot highway. It's a felt prayer.
Intentions are received by souls because they are felt in the soul’s dimensions of experience and awareness – thoughts, love, hope, best wishes and forgiveness transcend time, distance and dimensions. I know this from Akashic work. The earthly impact is felt and noticed, beneficially, even if you can’t see it or measure it. You can feel it the change. Square 1: Everything of Akashic consciousness is sound to begin with. Now we go in the reverse direction, everything of sound (audible or not) is Akashic consciousness.
Back to music. Let’s say I intend for my listeners to feel as though they’ve been transported someplace mystical where they can experience deep feeling and insight (which I do), and the way that takes place is still unknown to me. And I'm sure that place is deep inside them. Now, let's say I don't care that I don't understand it, because having been told by those who experience it for themselves, “this is what is happening”, I'm connecting with my audience, and that's what matters to me. How each listener responds is unique to them, because souls are unique and perfect and we’re all interconnected in invisible, wonderful ways given we’ve all emanated from the same Source. Music touches us at physical level on earth through sound vibration in third dimension air and bodily matter, the processes are mechanical and electrical and so forth. Ever wonder what it is exactly that touches the soul? Why did I burst out into tears and wails at age one and a half every single time I heard Dr. Zhivago’s theme on the radio? Is this effect separate from sound itself or purely of it? Is something riding the sound wave? Is it from one music note in particular, or via the words of lyrics? What is the "it"?
I cannot explain the hard physics or quantum wave mechanics to you, because I have no idea what is happening. I default to the simple statement, “like humor, music is of the realm of the soul.” And anything relating to soul is Akashic at foundational level.
We are human and music is divine.
My lifelong music mentor is Loreena McKennitt of Stratford, Ontario. Loreena's sound is wide dynamic intimate, immediate, crystal clear ethereal, and yes…transporting. Transcending. It is what she is known for, internationally. Her global world music speaks to and for all of us and our history. Then there’s her voice, which would be transcendent in any bathroom anywhere in the world, and now there’s this extra enhancing “box reverb” that carries her intention directly to our hearts and ears in a “physics of sound and reflections” way regardless of the room’s acoustics. You are a changed person for the experience.
I last got to visit with her at her Under a Winter Moon concert in Kingston, Ontario this past December. Again, and over the years, she has consistently reminded me, “whatever you make, it must be of your soul, it must come from soul.” From a pragmatic, perfectionist standpoint, she also insists, “If it doesn’t meet your standards, don’t put it out there.” I noticed something different about the sound engineering at the concert. The way her engineer set up her reverb was exactly fine-tuned to the way she sings, to optimize and feature exactly the word or part of the sung phrase she meant to linger longer in our hearts. She is a soul of crystal clear intention. Too much reverb overall, and you’re on another mountaintop far far away... with all proximity of a live performance just for you, the clarity and purity lost. Dialing it up is definitely not better. My eternal favourite song of hers is “The Old Ways” from the album The Visit. The opening percussion, music and voice seem to approach from a great distance, coming closer… “the thund’ring waves are calling me home, home to you…the pounding sea is calling me home, home to you…”. The original recording has a linear time-based reverb that essentially reduces to its lowest level by the time she begins the first verse of the song - and boom, you're there with her on a dark New Year's night on the west coast of Clare...possibly in a time period reminiscent of The Highlander. With her engineer’s new reverb method as I experienced at the concert, I can feel the effects of that song lingering differently in my heart than the album, more powerfully, if that could even be possible. It would now carry more specifically beyond the original reverb to bring about a lingering sustenance of “calling” and “home” ie “The pounding sea is calling me home, home to you…” and the two musical notes of each word carefully considered as well, to harmonize further in the lingering void, suspended almost indefinitely in time. Long enough that you won't forget, I guarantee that. Altogether, like Akashic law, the effect of the whole over the time we linger, in the space that awaits her next phrase, and beyond, is far greater than the sum of the parts.
I am undone.
This is the kind of crystal clear intention I work on at my piano (and hopefully in all aspects of life). If you feel like it, take a listen to a mid-stage recording done here at Quintessence Studio (at the famous piano), focusing on vocals to my affecting this effect. My prayer is to build "my sound" such that it may speak in that way, and to and for something far greater than what we think we are. The song is by no means completed, but here is one engineering experiment’s results: Crying Out Loud for Love. [arr A.B. Arnold, original JM Pisapia]