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The Power of Sound - Updated Second Edition<br>(Book & CD)

How to Be Healthy and Productive Using Music and Sound

By Joshua Leeds

This updated second edition published September 2010
Healing Arts Press
302 pages / 75-minute CD
ISBN 978-159477350-1
The cover image is a CymaGliph of a pure 22.2 Hz tone, courtesy of Erik Larson and John Reid /

"A magnificent addition to the growing body of literature devoted to the newly emerging field of sound therapy by an author who has been instrumental in its development and recognition. Insightful, lucid, and engaging, The Power of Sound is the first important book on sound therapy for the twenty-first century."

- Randall McClellan, Ph.D., author of The Healing Forces of Music.

"An indispensable guidebook to a new awareness of sound, and an exceptional resource for personal and professional use. Educators, therapists, and anyone with ears will find Joshua Leeds's work inspiring and practical as they endeavor to promote learning, performance, and well-being."

- Sheila Smith Allen, MA, OTR, BCP, Codirector of Pediatric Therapeutics.

"Joshua Leeds points to the future for the entire music community - musicians, producers, engineers, composers, and business people. I applaud his generosity in sharing psychoacoustic techniques he has developed and utilized to great effect."

- Joe Harnell, Grammy Award-winning composer, pianist, and author of Counterpoint: The Journey of a Music Man.

The Power of Sound is for everybody with ears. What we hear-and how we process it-has a far greater impact on our daily living than we realize. From the womb to the moment we die we are inescapably surrounded by sound, and what we hear can either energize or deplete our nervous systems. It is no exaggeration to say that what goes into our ears can harm us or heal us.

Joshua Leeds–a pioneer in the application of music for health, learning, and productivity–explains how sound can be a powerful ally. He explores the effects of tone, tempo, and pattern and how auditory dysfunction may result in difficulties with learning and social interactions. He offers innovative techniques designed to invigorate auditory skills and provide balanced sonic environments.

In this revised and updated edition of The Power of Sound, Leeds includes current research, extensive resources, analysis of the maturing field of soundwork, and a look at the effect of sound on animals. he also provides a new 75-minute CD of psychoacoustically designed classical music for a direct experience of the effect of simplified sound on the nervous system. With new information on how to use music and sound for enhanced health and productivity, The Power of Sound provides readers with practical solutions for vital and sustained well-being.

JOSHUA LEEDS is a sound researcher, educator, and music producer with 40 hours of specialized soundtracks used in clinics, classrooms, and animal care facilities worldwide. His primary emphasis is in the field of psychoacoustics, the study of the effect of music and sound on the human nervous system, and bioacoustics, how human sound affects other living beings. The author of Through a Dog's Ear and Sonic Alchemy, he lives in southern Oregon.

The Power of Sound includes detailed guides for musicians and healthcare professionals.

The 2010 revised edition of The Power of Sound has two valuable companion resources: is both an adjunct and continuation of the pages that compose this book. In today’s digital world, where information so quickly transpires, we will use this companion website to update resources, research, and significant events. The website will also be used to have deeper online discussion of specific topics.

The CD at the back of the book contains exemplary selections of music psychoacoustically designed and produced by Joshua Leeds.

Preface from the updated second edition...

2010 and Moving Forward — The Decade of Sound!

What an exhilarating thing . . .

For the last year, I’ve been writing this revised edition of The Power of Sound—googling, reading, comparing, interviewing, compiling, writing, and editing—all in the service of understanding the current state of soundwork in America. I’ve discovered that not only is the community of intentional music and sound alive and well, but it has never been better! Why? Because this field is poised to come into its own, to take a seat at the table of respected modalities of positive effect.

What does that mean, and why now?

I believe that 2010 begins the decade of sound. Those of us who are called to travel in this currency of resonance are actually inadvertent hitchhikers on the backs of neuroscience. Beginning in the early 1990s, with the advent of high-tech images produced through new techniques such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), scientists were able to look at brain function in real time in a way never before seen. As more of these extraordinary machines became available, varied aspects of neurologic perception were examined. Music, of course, would be one of the elements of study. How could it not be?

As researchers began to explore how and why sound and music affect us the way they do, cross-culturally and generationally, scientists discovered that the cognitive interpretation of music is so complex, and uses so many different parts of the brain, that the study of musical neuroscience could actually provide a new model for the study of cognition in general. How lucky for us in this field of soundwork! Our culture, at all levels, will now have an empirical understanding of what wise men and healing women have known forever: Sound, and music itself—the most glorious sculpting of sound frequencies—are gifts like water and air, flowers and children laughing. We could not live without this presence that goes so beyond words, into the limbic system of pure feeling and emotional sustenance.

As I write, there is a research project underway in Spain. A team is looking at the influence of music on the behavior of neural stem cells. This concept is breathtaking. The study of stem cells is such leading-edge research . . . and already, intrepid music researchers are looking at whether music can be used to stimulate stem cell growth. Neysa Navarro, the primary researcher, says:

"The idea that music has a therapeutic function is going through a rapid transformation based on research done in neuroscience. Scientists are attempting to clarify its neurobiological basis and finding that music has an influence on learning, animal behaviour, or brain functions in animals. It is believed that by knowing how music affects animals, this will provide an important insight into how music could also affect humans.

Based on a reliable experimental design, the preliminary results of our research have shown that music seems to have a direct and specific effect on cellular behavior which is made clear by cellular survival activation as well as the reproduction and neurogenesis mechanisms." *

* The abstract of the study, The Influence of Music on the Behavior of Neural Stem Cells, can be found online at

Wouldn’t you know it, music once again encourages reproduction . . . and now, the formation and development of nerve cells!

It is a very good time to be in this field of soundwork. Because of the new understandings provided by the emerging field of music neuroscience, lines become blurred between music and sound therapy, therapeutic bedside musicians and expressive arts therapists, and research of Music and Medicine Professionals in these fields realize that this is a timely opportunity to forge new networks, much as neural stem cells do, allowing for regeneration and renewal. The meeting tents are forming and our field is alive and well poised and ready to rock! Van Morrison even wrote a song, released in 2008, entitled, “That’s Entrainment.” I guess we’ve arrived.

I welcome you and hope that something in this book, now twice written, inspires you to greatness. What else is there?

Excerpted from the updated second edition of The Power of Sound. Courtesy of Healing Arts Press. (c) 2010 Joshua Leeds. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents


Preface: 2010 and Moving Forward — The Decade of Sound!


PART ONE - Sound

1 What Is Sound?

2 The Physics of Sound

3 The Mechanics of Hearing

4 Resonance, Entrainment, and Pattern Identification

5 Frequency Medicine: The Work of Alfred Tomatis

PART TWO - Sound Awareness

6 A New Awareness of Sound

7 Sonic Safety

8 Neuroscience and Music

9 Music and Sound in Your Life

10 Progressive Sound Health for the Hospital Environment

11 Animals and Sound

12 Current Sonic Media

PART THREE - A Guide to Soundwork Techniques and Applications

13 A Matter of Distinctions

14 The Building Blocks of Therapeutic Sound

15 Sonic Neurotechnologies

16 Applied Psychoacoustics for Health Care Practitioners

17 Advanced Sound Tools and Techniques

18 The Anatomy of Psychoacoustic Music Creation

19 The Sound and Music Alliance (SAMA)



Sound Remedies Catalog

Music for The Power of Sound CD Track Listing



About the Author


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