Solfeggio frequencies

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As we'll see, the Solfeggio believers' grasp of musical history is as weak as their mastery of physics and medicine.
—Craig Good[1]

Solfeggio frequencies, often promoted as "ancient solfeggio frequencies",[2] are a crank concept in sound healing, involving grandiose claims about a certain series of sound frequencies (396, 417, 528, 639, 741, 852 Hz) derived from a numerological system of family number groups. The concept hijacks and misapplies terminology (including the name) from the "solfeggio" or solfègeWikipedia's W.svg music education method, but other than that, has nothing in common with it.

Claims[edit]

Apparently, an individual by the name of Dr. Joseph Pulio discovered "solfeggio frequencies" through a series of pareidolic numerological calculations involving Bible verses, and it is claimed that these frequencies are "ancient" and "sacred" and were frequently used and sung before being "forgotten" by the modern world.[3] How we were able to measure the exact frequency of sound back then is not addressed.

One of the foremost promoters of the "solfeggio frequencies" is Leonard Horowitz, and following his lead, the idea has circulated far and wide over the years on YouTube and among New Age websites. The following vaguely miraculous claims are nearly always given for each of the frequencies:[4][5]

  • 396 Hz – Liberating Guilt and Fear
  • 417 Hz – Undoing Situations and Facilitating Change
  • 528 Hz – Transformation and Miracles (DNA Repair)
  • 639 Hz – Connecting/Relationships
  • 741 Hz – Expression/Solutions
  • 852 Hz – Returning to Spiritual Order

In fact, the series is not based on any actual musical, aesthetic or acoustic considerations, only numerological ones. The apparent connections between these numbers hinges entirely on our use of base ten for counting, and would fall apart in any other number base.

History[edit]

The name "solfeggio frequencies" is a complete misuse of the term "solfeggio" (or solfègeWikipedia's W.svg), which properly refers to a music education method that was developed to teach sight-singing and accurate pitch, associating a syllable with each note of the musical scaleWikipedia's W.svg. The system originated with 11th century music theorist Guido of Arezzo assigning six syllables (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la) to the first six notes of what would later be known as the major scaleWikipedia's W.svg; he derived these syllables from the words of the Latin hymn Ut queant laxisWikipedia's W.svg:

  • Ut queant laxīs resonāre fībrīs; ra gestōrum famulī tuōrum; Solve pollūtī labiī reātum, Sancte Iōhannēs.

Much later, the "ut" was changed to the open syllable "do" and "sol" to "so", while "si" (later changed to "ti") was added for the seventh scale-note, giving rise to the modern solfège that formed the basis for this famous ditty:

Pseudohistory[edit]

Promoters of "solfeggio frequencies" attempt to intertwine them with the history described above, claiming bizarrely that the tones Guido of Arezzo drew from Ut queant laxis actually corresponded to this magical series of frequencies - which, by the way, bear no resemblance whatsoever to Guido's hexachordWikipedia's W.svg, the church modesWikipedia's W.svg, the major scale, just intonationWikipedia's W.svg, Pythagorean tuningWikipedia's W.svg or anything else in Western tonal music,[note 1] despite claims to the contrary.[6] At any rate, even trying to claim that they originated with Guido's 11th-century concept would not justify the appellation "ancient".

Further misinformation[edit]

As if using the name "solfeggio" wasn't bad enough, the framework also misuses the syllables "ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la" by inexplicably reassigning them to the "solfeggio frequencies" (396Hz = "ut", 417Hz = "re", etc. until 852Hz = "la"[note 2]) instead of the scale tones to which they belong. This is quite a disservice to music educators, students, and anyone else who wants to study the solfège method. It is also highly ironic, given the focus of solfège on singing in tune and the fact that the frequency series is hardly singable at all.[note 3]

Unfortunately, the concept promoted by Horowitz and others is still popular and has been making rounds on the internet for years, to the extent that the top results of a Google search for the word "solfeggio" are occupied by demonstratively New Age domain names such as attunedvibrations.com, powerthoughtsmeditationclub.com, lifeenergysolutions.com, somaenergetics.com etc. and YouTube videos spouting nonsense about "solfeggio frequencies"[7] instead of actually useful information on solfège.

Links[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. They can, however, provide an interesting soundscape for modern musicians and composers.
  2. This is where it gets especially silly, as the frequency of "la" in this system is more than double that of "ut", placing it higher than the "ut" of the next octave up.
  3. This video gives an audio demonstration.

References[edit]