By Ijeoma Okere
Across the DMV, people enjoy hip-hop, R&B and many forms of modern-day music that engage listeners. While these songs can bring one to an interpretive state of mind, stop, take your ear phones off and listen.
Your favorite song might be contributing to anxiety due to its frequency. It can either make you feel relaxed or tense and unbalanced.
While walking the streets of Howard University in Washington, D.C, one can easily observe individuals listening to their playlist with earbuds in. While walking past, it may not cross the person’s mind that he or she could be witnessing those individuals harming their mental health.
In the past, music was recorded and mixed in 432 Hertz. Hertz is the metric unit of frequency, frequency is the amount of vibrations or sound waves per second. Most classical music and R&B songs recorded in the past are examples of “the good ole times.” From there, music took a turn for the worse. The incorporation of music recorded in 440 Hz was the main pivot in the history of music.
Listeners of music that leans more towards slow and contemporary tend to experience a slower pulse and heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreased levels of stress hormones. The frequency at which these songs are recorded is 432 Hz. This is what gives the soothing tone to audio files.
According to German physicist Winfried Otto, the earth has a frequency of 8 Hz, meaning that the earth’s surface vibrates eight times a second. Binaural Beats Meditation, an organization that vends meditation remedies and short meditation sessions, explained the correlation between the earth’s frequency and a frequency of 432 Hz.
“If we take eight Hz as our starting point and work upwards by five octaves, we reach a frequency of 256 Hz in whose scale the note A has a frequency of 432 Hz,” according to the article “Unearthing the Truth Behind Nature’s Frequency.” Octaves are a series of notes between two different pitches; one pitch has half the frequency of the other. So if we reach the fifth octave, the musical note “A” has a frequency of 432 Hz. The vibration of the planet center creates a tone that makes the human brain more relaxed.
The “A” note is what pianos are supposed to be tuned to, and all other notes revolve around this note. Since 1953, an international agreement was put in place where “A” should be tuned to a frequency of 440 Hz. This was confirmed by Howard University audiologist Ovetta Harris, Ph.D., who explained that music affects “auditory processing” in a variety of ways even though “it sounds like a small difference.”
Music created with a frequency of 440 Hz or more not only eliminates the previously described harmonization with the planet, but its vibrational pattern also stimulates the brain in opposing ways using the theory of brainwaves
For example, the hip-hop song “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X is recorded roughly at 440 Hz. How does this link to anxiety? According to Brain Works Neuro Therapy, beta waves generate cognitive thinking and anxiety or high levels of brain activity. “Continual high frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain, as it takes a tremendous amount of energy.”
“Vibing Out With (((O)))” by FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) is D.C. resident Alexandra Banks’ favorite song. “It makes me feel at peace, or even go to sleep,” Banks said. When analyzed, this song has a frequency of 431.04 Hz.
Meanwhile, ninth-grader Krystian Williams-Odom stated, ”‘My favorite song is ‘Look Back at It’ by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. … It makes me feel energetic.” The song has a frequency of 465.5 Hz.
Music can either have a positive or negative affect on the human brain depending on what a person is listening to. So next time when you plug in your headphones, think about not only what you are listening to and how it makes you feel, but also the frequency of the song and whether it leaves you tense, relaxed or happy.
Ijeoma Okere is a sophomore at Archbishop Carroll High School.