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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.
Solfeggio frequencies, often promoted as "ancient solfeggio frequencies", are a crank concept in sound healing. They involve 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 solfège music-education method, but other than that, has nothing in common with it. Many who push this woo also push the A440 conspiracy – that is, that the modern international standard for Western tuning is somehow detrimental to our well-being.
Apparently, an individual by the name of Dr. Joseph Puleo (in mid-1970s) 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. 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:
- 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 most other number bases. In addition, Hertz is an arbitrary unit of measurement that is based on a thirty-one-million-five-hundred-and-thirty-six-thousandth part of one revolution of an arbitrary planet around an arbitrary star[note 1] – hardly grounds for any claims of cosmic significance. In fact, this supposedly mystical numeric sequence is found in the columns of digits on the standard numeric keypad of a telephone or computer.
The name "solfeggio frequencies" is a complete misuse of the term "solfeggio" (or solfège), 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 scale. 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 scale; he derived these syllables from the words of the Latin hymn Ut queant laxis:
- Ut queant laxīs resonāre fībrīs; Mīra gestōrum famulī tuōrum; Solve pollūtī labiī reātum, Sancte Iōhannēs.
Much later, the "ut" was changed to the open syllable "do", "sol" sometimes 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:
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 hexachord, the church modes, the major scale, just intonation, Pythagorean tuning or anything else in Western tonal music,[note 2] despite claims to the contrary. At any rate, even trying to claim that they originated with Guido's 11th-century concept would not justify the appellation "ancient".
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 3]) instead of the diatonic 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 4]
Unfortunately, the concept is still popular and has been making rounds on the internet for many years, to the extent that the top results of a Google search for the word "solfeggio" include demonstratively New Age YouTube videos and domain names such as attunedvibrations.com, powerthoughtsmeditationclub.com etc. uncritically repeating Puleo and Horowitz's nonsense instead of actually useful information on solfège.
- Craig Good covering this topic on the Skeptoid podcast
- A musician's comprehensive (and quite diplomatic) analysis of the absurdities of the "solfeggio frequencies" claims
- Another deconstruction from the MedSon Research Centre
- 31,536,000 seconds in a common (non-leap) year.
- They can, however, provide an interesting soundscape for modern musicians and composers.
- Note that 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. To illustrate how silly this is, imagine playing the ascending white notes on a piano keyboard - C, D, E, F, G, A, B - only to find that the next C was of a lower pitch than the preceding A and B!
- In fact, this audio demonstration shows that the tones sound rather "out of tune" with each other.
- Craig Good (07/07/2015). "Solfeggio Frequencies". Skeptoid Podcast.
- The Ancient Solfeggio Scale, Attuned Vibrations
- What are the Solfeggio frequencies?, Attuned Vibrations
- Solfeggio Frequencies Set Body Into Full Harmony, The Mind Unleashed
- 6 Frequencies Used by Ancient Cultures to Heal and Connect to the Divine, Humans Are Free
- Forgotten in Time: The Ancient Solfeggio Frequencies, Soma Energetics
- Google search result for "solfeggio"