American homes today are triple the size they were in the 1950s. And with more space has come more stuff. But a growing number of advocates say it is time to simplify. The lure of the minimalist lifestyle – and what it could mean for our health and happiness.
Guest Host: Susan Page
Stop for a minute and take note of what you can hear around you. There is the radio obviously, but you can probably also hear traffic noise, various appliances humming, maybe even someone on the phone. We are surrounded by noise: so much so that it’s the second biggest environmental problem affecting our health after air pollution. That’s why author Don Campbell believes getting the right mix of sounds is critical to our well-being. He explains how a healthy sound diet can help us, our families and our workplaces become more productive, relaxed and even smarter.
- Don Campbell Co-author of "Healing at the Speed of Sound" and author of "The Mozart Effect"
MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us, I'm Susan Page of U.S.A. Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Too much of the wrong types of sound can be as bad for us as junk food. According to our guest, this hour, hearing the right mix of sounds can improve our health, productivity and mental agility. Don Campbell is author of "Healing at the Speed of Sound." He's with us in the studio to explain why a healthy sound diet is critical to our well being. Welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MR. DON CAMPBELLGood morning to you. What a great time of day to talk about sound.
PAGEWe are -- we invite our listeners to join our conversation, later in this hour. You can call our toll free number, that's 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email at email@example.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter. So, why is this a wonderful time of day to talk about sound?
CAMPBELLWell, we've already had our sonic caffeine in one form or another and we've got the rest of the day to stay very productive, very focused and to see and really sense what is going on around us. It is amazing how much noise we have in our every single day, from the car to the radio to the air conditioning, from the halogen lights. And we're a little bit more unrushed from 11:00 to 11:30 or what -- in midday, then any other time of day. There's hope for us to tweak our day.
PAGEYou said, we have our sonic caffeine, what is that?
CAMPBELLWell, in the morning, either through our coffee or through different ways of listening to the radio or the iPod on the commute, you've had ways to stimulate the mind and the brain. And what we know is that frequency and rhythm change the way in which we hear the world around us. You know, this is one of the most wonderful things I love about Diane's voice, is that she slows me down. And I pay attention in an amazing way to what's going on.
CAMPBELLAnd I probably listen better because of that unique sound print that she has. So whether we are now able to look at sonic sedatives, ways to chill us out, to give us a little bit more space. A way that we can change the way our kids, our grandkids or being hyper, helping them study. And that's what "Healing at the Speed of Sound" has been about. Because three years ago, I started with Alex Doman, the director of Advanced Brain Technologies and I'm the musician and the creative one and the visionary and he's the focused businessman who understand brain technology.
CAMPBELLSo between us, we make two great ears in talking about how we can tweak our day and learn how to use the most nutritious aspects of sound in a very cost efficient and a very important way to distress our lives.
PAGESo talk about how you use it. Say, you're on -- have a very stressful day, what might you do to use sound to help yourself?
CAMPBELLHow wonderful. Last night, I was at the American Academy of Medicine. We had our New York launch for this wonderful book and we had a full house. And I got to take the train, the 10:05 to Washington. And I'd had a wonderful day. The first thing I do, whether it is on the airplane or whether it's on a train, not so much in the car because I need all my listening skills, but I use noise reduction headphones that take away that low roar sense that can exhaust us and it can also make us not pay attention.
CAMPBELLIt's very interesting how the brain hears sound, through bone conduction, air conduction. Do you remember, when you were a kid on a bus and you put your head next to the window and you got that buzz out of it? And that was a very, kind of, a fun experience, in a way. Well, we are over-buzzed. Just within the last six months, World Health Organization has released 125 page report called "The Burden of Disease From an Environmental Noise."
CAMPBELLThis is one of the most important things. You can just go online, Google, noise and WHO because we're realizing that it can actually change the way we feel every day. So, on the train last night I listened to Bach, I listened -- actually I listened to two cantatas of Bach because I needed to really chill out and forget the day. But I also listened to a lot of silence and before I got to D.C., there came the great Jazz with little more vigor, with a little more attention and a sense of I am here. And it's learning to do your own inner play-list.
PAGESo the World Health Organization did identify noise pollution as second, only to air pollution, in its danger to our health. So what are the risks posed by noise pollution, by too much of bad noise?
CAMPBELLCardiovascular disorders, cognitive impairments, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, different forms of normal annoyance and literally, these studies, have been so profound, in Europe with mostly in Germany, they have found that actually the amount of energy it takes for us to sort out those sounds -- you know the ears are not just for hearing and absorbing, they have to work at filtering out sounds that you don't want to hear.
CAMPBELLSo the whole first chapter or two of "Healing at the Speed of Sound" is about, well, let's take an assessment. You know, we read the back of every single thing that we eat now. When I go to the department store, I look at the price but I look at the grocery store and I see oh, there's so many carbs or this, that and the other. The same thing is true with sound. And the point that I want to make, more than anything, is too much of anything isn't good.
CAMPBELLOur ears need to rest, our world can be literally filtered out of a little bit so that you have silent times, that you can take off that halogen light, you can change the manner in which your sound and your home works in a different way. I want to tell you one thing that's so interesting. For the past five years, I have worked with aesthetic audio systems at an incredible company called DMX. And I have been through 50,000 pieces of music to find 5,000 pieces of music for hospital.
CAMPBELLA different play list for the emergency room, for the waiting room, for the chapel, for the outside gardens, for the staff and it's based on day parting.
PAGESo on the emergency room, what kind of music would you want to have playing in the emergency room?
CAMPBELLWell, in the emergency waiting room.
PAGEThe emergency waiting room, yes.
CAMPBELLThat's a very intense time. You're usually not there more than 30 minutes or an hour. It's not like surgical waiting where you're there for four or five hours. And so you need music that is calming but is not that sleepy music. You know, in hospitals like Marianjoy in Chicago and Good Samaritan Exempla in Boulder, Colo., where I live, the amazing thing is that every five or seven minutes you want to change the mood a little bit, but you don't want to watch TV. We need closed caption up there.
CAMPBELLThe mind needs to choose. So that it depends on the time of day. Stress at 4:00 a.m. is a bit different from stress in 3:00 in the afternoon. Because, you know, that 4:00 a.m. is just like, well, is something really happening that we need to tune up and tune into? So learning how to make some choices -- this is not about taking the music I want you to hear, this is about a time where you can literally learn to choose your sonic nutrition. And that's the reason of this book.
PAGESo we have some recordings to listen to, just very briefly. Let's try the first one which is called "Shirabe."
PAGESuch an interesting sound we're hearing there. Not an American style flute. What is it that is being played?
CAMPBELLThat is a Shakuhachi, that's from Japan. And that may not be the kind of music you want to wake up to in the morning but do you notice that music is breath and it's saying let's just exhale a nice long breath. Let's give ourselves some space. And that's the amazing thing of using great headphones on the subway is because you have more space then you have when you're listening to all that low sound and other people are crowding in, it gives you more of an ambient spatial context for you to feel more at ease.
PAGESo if you were -- so that might be a situation which you would have -- be playing this music, if you were on a crowded -- if you had a commute that you knew was going to be, kind of, a jam?
CAMPBELLYes or after a hard day at work, you know. To come in and say, oh, I don't need more stimulation to get home. What allows that wonderful, wonderful self therapeutic, self instigated, self referent play list that allow you to go to the next stage of your day with even more harmony.
PAGEAnd is there a difference to your reaction to music and to sound whether you're listening to a recording or whether you're in a concert hall or in a situation where you're hearing a live performance?
CAMPBELLIt is so exciting to look at how many different ways we actually listen to sound and music. At Boulder Philharmonic, I have a wonderful club called the Super Listening Club. And we analyze 20 different ways to listen to music. You know, the same piece of music, if you're riding in your car, is one thing. The same piece of music -- if you're listening to Adele in a restaurant where there's a lot of people, that's different than if you've just paid $150 and you're sitting on the third row watching her sing it.
CAMPBELLThere is a psychological manor in which we filter sounds. And that's what's great about "Healing at the Speed of Sound" is because this isn't a book you just read, you can look at it, you can hear an example, instantly and who knows, learn which way you can channel yourself to listen to music.
PAGEWe're talking to Don Campbell, the author of 23 books, the latest one is called "Healing at the Speed of Sound." He also wrote "The Mozart Effect." We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll go to the phones. Our phones lines are open, 1-800-433-8850 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAGEHere's an e-mail from a listener. He writes, "I work as a judge in an online music contest and I have to listen to all the entries we receive. I can honestly say that I've never had a more mentally exhausting job in my life." You know, you'd think it'd be a pleasure but he's saying it's exhausting. "Of the thousands of entries that we receive it is safe to say that around 75 percent of them have no sense of tone or rhythm. I have found few things that are as physically and mentally discomforting as listening to a song that is out of pitch."
CAMPBELLWell, bless you, my goodness. Number one, be sure just to turn the sound down. The greatest problem we have is not what type of music, but if it's too loud. I don't care if it's rock music or pop music. You may have a junior high daughter who's playing flute in the marching band and the trombones are blowing her brains out. So whatever you listen to cut it down just a little bit.
CAMPBELLI can sympathize with you a little bit. For the last six years I've been going to the DMX offices and -- with my programmer and having to listen to 2 to 300 pieces of music today -- each day just like a jigsaw puzzle, putting it together. Another technique is I hum a lot and that somehow doesn't destroy my ability to listen. But, you know, what a privilege it is to listen to music. And, you know, just keep it soft, keep it short and...
PAGEAnd take a break occasionally, yeah.
CAMPBELL...and keep your heart open. Get your own sonic sedatives to listen to in between every ten pieces you listen to.
PAGELet's talk to Cheryl. She's calling us from Carmel, Calif. Hi, Cheryl.
CHERYL(unintelligible) I was actually just discussing this with a colleague yesterday. I've always said that human beings are not evolved to deal with the super abundance of auditory stimuli that we surround ourselves with, particularly in the highly urban areas. And to that regard, when I lived in L.A. I found -- and I consider myself really sensitive to an overabundance of auditory stimuli, but I was wondering if your guest Mr. Campbell is aware of any studies that -- such as the WHO, that pointed to significant differences in demographics between those living in highly urban areas and those living in, you know, rural or suburban geography in terms of their emotional distress or physiological or physical conditions that might be related to auditory stress.
PAGEAll right, Cheryl. Thanks so much for your call.
CAMPBELLWell, you know, so much has happened in the last 20 years. We are really over bombarded. Can you imagine 100 years ago where the living music was not on the radio or the television. You had the music in your home, you had it in the church, you had it in the concert hall. If you lived in an agrarian context it gave you a sense of space. There were different wakeup calls.
CAMPBELLSomebody in my neighborhood in Boulder just bought a rooster who has not been programmed to morning and evening. And this rooster, around 11:00 every morning just decides to sing to the neighborhood. I have never felt happier in my life because it is this fresh living sound. As far as the study is concerned...
PAGEBut if I could just ask you, what if that rooster were making noise -- I don't know what you call it when a rooster makes the rooster noise...
CAMPBELLCrews (sp?) .
PAGECrews, okay, at 5:30 in the morning and you weren't ready to get up? Would that -- why would that noise affect you at that point?
CAMPBELLWell, I have traveled to 40 countries and had the opportunity to live in Borneo and in Haiti and a number of countries where I think the pigs and the roosters have this thing to keep your attentiveness on at all times. I think our ears change because we had an acuity 100 years ago, and I think even still today, where we can hear a mile away, or 200' away and be aware of everything. Now that we are just overdosed with sound, we're having to relearn that kind of sensitivity.
CAMPBELLAnd the amazing thing about sensitivity, especially with children who cannot focus, who cannot really get straight into thinking or study, it could be that they have what you would call a type of hyperactivity of the ear that every sound disturbs them. As we get older, we lose the high parts of our pitch. We lose -- we go down from 22000 all the way to 15000 hertz very naturally. And to be able to know that when your grandmother is not hearing or listening in the same way, it's because the whole mechanism changes.
CAMPBELLAnd so that this is what I've done in "Healing at the Speed of Sound." We've gone through the whole day what you need to know about your mom, what you need to know about your kids, how important sound is, how to improve listening and what you can do in your own environment to be aware that this sound around you not only charges your brain and gives you ideas, but at the same time can really help you chill out.
CAMPBELLAnd so once you get these techniques then you can start choosing your own music and your own manner of silence.
PAGEAnd Cheryl had asked are there studies that show differences between people who live in very urban areas compared to people who live in suburban and rural areas?
CAMPBELLThere's a great story I tell in the book about an author recently who wrote a book. He was a soundman in New York and he -- the book's called "Zero Decibels." And he started recording every single sound in New York City and did the research to begin to say what does this do to us, when is it really silent. And do you know for many of us he put us in a totally isolated sound place and we don't know who we are. It gives us that sense of we need to be busy and sound is -- keeps us from sometimes being centered or conscious.
CAMPBELLAnd it's learning that this spectrum that we have through the perception of sound -- sound and the ears are not just about hearing. It's about or spatial relationship, up and down, left and right. We have a sense of who we are in the world and this sound and music is about our voice, is about our wonderful sense of how do we invite others to communicate and listen to us more. And how do we use music not only in art and entertainment, but as a supplemental prescriptive context that allows us to endure pain by masking it, that helps us talk to our elders with dementia and Alzheimer's.
CAMPBELLAll of these things are being asked about. There's tremendous dialogue and research within music therapy, within psycho therapy. And there are many things that every one of us can apply just by knowing that here we have sound, here we have ways to listen to the world around us. There's nothing like today. I mean, with all of the availability on iPod -- I'm at the American Music Research Center in the University of Colorado, I'm on their board. And they have the largest Glen Miller assortment of sounds and wonderful radio programs in the world.
CAMPBELLWe have access to things that our grandparents, great grandparents heard live. And now's our time to look up on -- the research in the book is vital and there's so much of it. I found over 11,000 articles when I started to research this.
PAGENow, you talked about using music to help kids or how it might affect kids who are hypersensitive to sound. I think Debbie, who's calling us from Ohio, has a sort of related question. Debbie, hi. Thanks for joining us.
DEBBIEHi, thanks for taking my call. My question is just how do you decide what types of music are best to make you calmer or make you feel more relaxed? My partner has ADD and she can listen to her iPod at high volume and tells me that classical music annoys her and makes her more frustrated. So how do you decide, you know, is there only one type of music that can help calm people down? Or exactly how does that work on an individual basis? And I can take my answer off the air.
PAGEAll right, Debbie. Thank you so much for your call.
CAMPBELLWhat a wonderful question. Sound affects everybody a little bit differently. And I think the first things to look at is what is the tempo of the music, what is the texture of the music. Is it really crowded? For some people, Bossa Nova is an instant relaxation moment. Some others it's more of a waltz. Believe it or not, watching Dancing with the Stars can create a sense of release. It isn't -- it's about the components of the sound.
CAMPBELLAnd let me be even more clear. There are four techniques. There's an iso principal where you gradually change from one mood to another. Or there's an entrainment where you move from one pattern of movement to another. Or a masking sound or just using music for complete diversion. It is being conscious of not using sound just to cover up things we don't want to do.
CAMPBELLBut create your own playlist. Start with a fast pulse, slow down a little bit, try a new piece. We designed "Healing at the Speed of Sound" music just for that. But what's amazing with this book is you can be reading along and then you get a free download of try this, try this. For instance, waking up in the morning relaxed. We have (singing) morning has broken like the first morning, and a little Bach piece (singing) . It just depends.
CAMPBELLAnd once you have more choices, once you realize that, hey this can -- both of these can help perk me up or slow me down and I have a choice, I think that's where we begin to move socially. So that the concerts we go to, the ability to now listen to opera on Saturday mornings at the movie theater or whether we are just learning to tweak our own sense of it's not about just what we like, it's learning why we like it.
PAGEAnd for a parent who has a child with ADD and say that child is -- you're trying to get him or her to do their homework. Is it smarter to -- they could be very sensitive to sound -- is it smarter to have a particular kind of music playing? Is it smarter to be in a very quiet place? What do you think is most likely to work?
CAMPBELLI think there are a couple of different things. First thing I always do is slow down my voice. The minute I use rhythm and rhyme, the mind tunes in in a very different way. What we know is when the music is highly organized like Mozart, like Hayden, there can be a very different change of mind. And these kinds of tools are what I demonstrate online. You can see me help you.
PAGEI'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." You just mentioned Mozart. Let's play just a clip of Mozart's music.
PAGESo that music is very much like what you were describing. It helps someone get kind of organized in their mind.
CAMPBELL(singing) It's a conversation-cy, it repeats itself endlessly. There are variations right on time, and sometimes that music rhymes.
PAGENow you've written about the affect playing Mozart on mice. What affect does it have?
CAMPBELLWell, I think that's very curious. I was doing a study -- actually it is a colleague Dr. Francis Ralpher (sp?) who wrote mice in the labyrinth, when they listen to Mozart they get out more quickly. And at the time...
PAGEThey get out of the maze more quickly.
PAGEIt's makes them smarter.
CAMPBELLWell, this was very interesting because I was doing a resource report for Texas State prisons in Huntsville, Texas when that report came out. And they said, well, I don’t think we want to play Mozart in prison. I said, but it's about very famous -- being able to study. I think it is the pattern, it is the frequency and it is the repetitive. It is the rondo. It is the sonata Allegra form. It is the variations that allow us -- in pop music, we hear the same thing over and over, the ABA style.
CAMPBELLBut really sometimes we need sounds like the Japanese music we were hearing that just expands us. And we don't have that familiarity. And other times we need to know I'm in a safe room, I'm in a safe sound. I know where I am, let's get to work.
PAGEIt was interesting the study that you mentioned where the mice could get through the maze faster if they were hearing Mozart. Tell us what happened when the mice were hearing instead hard rock.
CAMPBELLWell, they felt a little more confused. And I have never found out -- now -- and this is being very true. I think how loud the music is has a lot to do with it. I don't know those parameters that were used. I'm not here -- I am so pro-music in culture, the amount of stress reduction when teenagers learn to play guitar and drums, sometimes their release of tension goes upstairs to the mom and dad.
CAMPBELLBut the point is making music helps us cooperate in our community the social advocacy. We have shown that those families that make music together communicate. That making music in a variety of different ways helps us socialize. And that to be able to look at arts advocacy is so much more than just doing better on a test. It's a matter of how do we listen to each other and cooperate. And I think this is a whole new possibility of saving music in the schools, arts in the schools because it's expression of our emotions. And in this day and age, sometimes our emotions are so vast with all the pressures that are upon us.
PAGEAnd we -- you've found studies that say learning to play an instrument actually has a much more intense effect on even the development of your brain than listening to music.
CAMPBELLExactly. And I want our listeners to know that there are thousands and thousands of music educators and fine neurological researchers, as Alex Dulman (sp?) in advanced brain technologies -- and who are doing this work. I'm a journalist and I'm a missionary. My job is to say, listen, there is so much we can do. You can see it, you can hear it. And there are ways to look at this multidimensional context of making your life better every single day. And don't let your neighbor sonic bully you.
PAGEAnd you are a musician yourself.
CAMPBELLI'm a classical musician and was very blessed to grow up in France and study with Nadia Boulanger in composition and conducting at Cincinnati and University of North Texas and work with organizations like Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. And my joy is bringing the quality of sound to improve the quality of life.
PAGEWe're talking to Don Campbell about his new book "Healing at the Speed of Sound." We're going to take another short break. When we come back we'll talk about some of the uses that music is now being put to to help elderly people who have dementia and Parkinson's Disease and other ailments. We're going to take your calls. Hang on the phones. We have an open line or two, 1-800-433-8850. Stay with us.
PAGEJames is calling us from the Woodlands in Texas. James, thanks for holding on; you're on the air.
JAMESThank you for taking my call. I was just curious about the effects of music -- listening to rock and roll and things like R&B, in terms of doing your homework. I remember my daughter really loving to listen to music, headphones on, and I just wonder what are the effects, positive or negative, of doing homework...
PAGESo, James, was this the subject of some tension between you and your daughter?
PAGEDid -- was this a source of discord between you and your daughter? Were you concerned this wasn't a smart thing for her to be listening to while doing her homework?
JAMESI, yeah, was. You know, I was old school and I didn't think that listening to, you know, your favorite music, you know, was the best way to grasp the total subject now.
PAGEOkay, let's ask Don Campbell what he thinks.
CAMPBELLWell, I tell you so often music just blocks out the rest of the world and you feel like you have your own private space. The biggest concern, as I mentioned earlier, is the volume of that music. And having really good headphones are important.
CAMPBELLThese ear pods can be really, really dangerous, whether you're doing homework or whether you're doing exercise, because you need to remember that as you exercise and move physically, there is more oxygenization within the ear and that you can do damage to the cochlea and the little cilia, these little hairs, that is so gradual you don't know that you're really shooting yourself in the head.
CAMPBELLAnd so a great present is noise reduction headphones. So that they really have their space and when your daughter is listening to music just make a suggestion. Put on the noise reduction headphones and then keep it quiet for a little while. And then put on another piece of music. Are you charging your brain or are you chilling out? Learn to just detect it that way.
CAMPBELLI think -- I grew up in the wonderful '60s and '70s so I did do a lot of singing along and we didn't have headphones, per se, but I know that taking care of how you listen is really, really important.
PAGEOne of the things you write about is uses of music for elderly people who may be having an illness, such as Parkinson's Disease or, perhaps, suffering from dementia, how can music, if someone has an elderly friend or a parent, how can you use music to help them?
CAMPBELLMy mother died a few years ago after ten years with dementia. And she was 95 and totally deaf and had been very hard of hearing, but refused to get hearing aids and she just went into a kind of a shell. And this is one thing that you will find that music therapists and OTs and PTs and recreational therapists realize that when you set up a rhythmic pattern the brain receives sound through the skin and the bones, not -- not just through the ears.
CAMPBELLAnd every time I went to see my mother I would sit down at the piano and play a piece of music my dad used to play with her all the time. (singing) Ain't she sweet? As she's walking down the street. Now I ask you very -- ain't she sweet?
CAMPBELLI realized that I didn't even have to sing out loud. Suddenly her eyes were open. She's engaged and we know that when there is a pattern -- and sometimes just holding her hand and tapping as I spoke to her, it's as if she would come from another land and be present for a minute or two.
CAMPBELLIs this a cure? No. Is my book about instant ways to deal with the greatest physical or mental challenges? No, but it is a very practical tool. And what can happen at the speed of sound is that you can begin to realize that just softening your voice, just slowing down, giving yourself more room changes your blood pressure, your skin temperature and your heartbeat.
PAGENow, you write, also, about Clyde Wehring (sp?) who had a very particular problem. Tell us about him.
CAMPBELLThis man had the Parkinson's. And that we find very, very interestingly that harp playing or listening to harp music gives this sense of a stable, even more ordered world. I think we might even have a piece of music from music at the...
PAGEWe do. Let's listen to this third piece of music, which is Bach's Prelude Number One in C.
PAGESo what a beautiful piece of music that is. And what's the effect of that music?
CAMPBELLNumber one, it's not -- there's not too much bass. It's more essence. It's played on a beautiful harp. Most every piano student knows that in the world and there's just something about the spaciousness of it. After Bach wrote this, Gounod put an Ave Maria around it so it has another implication.
CAMPBELLBut one of the other things we found with the elderly and the hard of hearing is the use of these crystal bowls that are so interesting. They look like big salad bowls that are made of crystal and it's just kind of a ringing effect. And that these bowls just suddenly add a presence and, like, what is this? Where am I?
CAMPBELLAnd it's a very, very beautiful sound. And so this kind of experimentation -- anytime anyone is interested in any one of these topics through our book there are little eyes and there are little ears and there are little light bulbs. And you can go online or if you have an electronic book, you know, like an iBook or a color Nook or the new Fire Kindle. I can't keep up with them.
CAMPBELLAll you do push it and there is the music in that second. And so, oh, to talk about music, there's just nothing like just listening and being with music.
PAGELet's talk to Marian. She's calling us from Detroit. Marian, hi, welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MARIANHi, great show, thanks for taking my call. Well, there's so much I could say or ask about and I just -- I have to say this, though, I have to ask this. Many of us that couldn't afford to live in places where we can just kind of afford the quiet. You know, we're living where there might be leaf blowers all the time, very loud. Maybe neighbors waking us up and that's, you know, playing havoc on our health and all kinds of issues of noise pollution and, as you were saying, sonic bullies.
MARIANAnd could you address that? It's just a baseline of how, you know, for health just like smoke -- now smoking issues have changed with legislation and, also, even, you know, food. We all talk about, you know, how do -- how do you make organic food available. How do we make these healthy soundscapes for everybody, not just somebody that could, like I said, you know, purchase their own little island.
MARIANAnd, also, one other thing with that, I had heard in Europe there's some countries where there is, actually, you know, there's times of the day that you cannot -- you can't do your lawns. You know, there's -- there's just more regulation over that. Could you talk about that?
CAMPBELLWell, you've just said the whole premise of the beginning and the ending of what this work is about. There are things you can do with insulation. There are things you can do in your own home. I agree with all of these things, you know, the snow blowers or the leaf blowers, but, you know, some of us are really soft of hearing.
CAMPBELLWe hear of people hard of hearing all the time, but when you're soft of hearing, you just kind of have to ask someone who's speaking so loud or it's too much or the radio just -- just tell them, I'm really soft of hearing. What does that mean? Well, I can't hear loud sounds very well. Can you help me out with that?
CAMPBELLAnd your -- your question's important because sometimes you will have to mask it. And by masking that means covering up sound with sound. This is nothing I want to really over enforce. You know when you go to a nice restaurant and you're with a friend you haven't seen for such a long time. And if you go to a restaurant that is just pounding music, you're screaming at each other and there's none of that in a really fine -- there's none of that communication that your heart wants.
CAMPBELLAnd yet, if you know you go to another restaurant you actually are buying time and space to find either more relaxed, more space and, hopefully, the food is good.
PAGEWe're talking -- let's talk to Paul. He's calling us from Cincinnati, Ohio. And, I think, Paul, you are someone who could be described as soft of hearing; is that right?
PAULOh, definitely. I was born premature and, of course, there's a whole other story about incubation and babies in those areas, but I have, basically, acute hearing and -- and people drive me nuts. I will get to a point where if -- and it's any kind of noise, like, if someone -- my father's a hummer. And he'll hum for, like, two or three hours in the car when we're driving on a long trip.
PAULI freak out and, basically, you know, get mad. And I'm thinking is there -- are there studies as far as too much sound and to the point where it's, basically, bad for our society and, I guess, that would be my question.
CAMPBELLThis is that World Health Organization report. And all you've got to do is guggle -- Google, excuse me, World Health Organization noise and that'll bring that up to you. Yes, it is, but I want to point out one thing. Your dad, as he's humming, may be stimulating his brain so that he doesn't fall asleep when driving. He also is oxygenating his body and that humming, as simple as it is, is actually a way to keep vitalizing your body.
CAMPBELLThis is not singing out. It is a matter of massaging -- if you put your hand on your cheek and hum you can feel your bones moving. It's a way of actually energizing yourself from the inside out.
PAGEAll right, Paul, thanks for your call. Let's go to William. He's calling us from Clinton, Ark., hi, William.
WILLIAMGood afternoon, how you doing?
PAGEJust fine, thank you. Thanks for calling.
WILLIAMExcellent program, I'm wondering if the professor has had an opportunity to work with anyone with a Native American Indian flute?
CAMPBELLYes, I have. And I have been a consultant for a few years to the Navajo Nation and, even in nearby Oklahoma, to the Osage Nation about looking at drumming and the importance of drumming patterns in contrast with the flute -- the Native American flute. Somewhat similar to that shakuhachi we heard at the beginning. And one is space and one is time.
CAMPBELLI just think that these are very, very important tools. Everybody can drum. You don't have to drum loudly, but look at the work of Christine Stevens, music therapist. She is going all over the world and teaching people how to drum to release stress and be able to utilize what is so natural within us for the last 3,000 years to improve our health.
PAGENow, William, you, yourself, are involved with a flute program; is that right?
WILLIAMI beg your pardon?
PAGEYou, yourself, are involved -- you're involved with a Native American flute program?
WILLIAMYes, I'm an artist in education with the Arkansas Arts Council and through their mini grant program I work with kindergarten through eighth grade children teaching them how to play the Native American Indian flute. It's amazing to watch a child, a student, that didn't think they could ever make a song, write their own music on this instrument.
CAMPBELLWhat a wonderful program. And, you know, you're teaching them to take deep breaths and work together. It's more than just what it sounds. Bravo.
PAGEWilliam, thanks so much for your call. I'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're taking your calls. Let's take another call. We'll go to Mary who's calling us from Leesburg, Va. Mary, you're on the air.
MARYThank you. Talking about stress with sounds and music, in particular, the base beat, especially today's music, it's always been loud when it's on these mega speakers, but today's music, it can be at a distance from me. It can be in another apartment. I'm in an apartment. It actually goes through my body. It is quite uncomfortable. It's one of the few things that causes me a stress that I can't control.
MARYI have to call up and say please -- ask them to just turn down their bass. This is not music. This is bass beat so I'm throwing that out as a real -- a real stress inducer. I don't know if anyone else feels like this. I'm sure some other folks must feel this.
CAMPBELLWhale -- whales and dolphins feel it every day, believe me. These long, low beats are sometimes 20, 60, 80 feet long. If we could see the shape of sounds -- the lower the sounds, the louder the sounds, the longer the sound waves and the shorter, the higher. And so, literally what you're feeling is through your skin and bones and this kind of sensitivity can be very, very difficult.
CAMPBELLNow, again, I would recommend some noise reduction headphones just so that you can find some peace from this. But, truthfully, as we understand the nutritions and the components of sound, to know that what's pleasure for one person can be, actually, very painful for someone else. And I -- I hope we can help you find a way to not feel that oversensitivity.
PAGEMary, thanks so much for your call. Let's go to Deanna calling us from Florida. Hi, Deanna.
DEANNAHello. You have been talking about man-made noises, rhythmic noises. My question is natural noises. I spend a lot of time in my backyard with the birds and the squirrels and such as that. And it's not constant. It's, you know, you have different noises at different times. You know, there's not -- really not a rhythm to it, but it's very calming to me, you know, to hear the birds flutter through the dead fall, to hear the squirrels crunching on their peanuts and such and such. And I'm curious as to how this affects people.
CAMPBELLWell, there are incredible programs available. One of them is called the listening program out of Utah that uses nature sounds with light classical music to help focalize and relax people. We know that that (makes noise) of wind, the (makes noise) ...
CAMPBELL...of pink and white noise, if it's not too loud, actually, has a calming effect. And what's wonderful about birds and bird song is that it's -- it has a pattern and that they change the pattern. It gives you a sense of -- of space. I, too, love these sounds and every once in a while I -- I use a trick. I live in a -- a very quiet place in Boulder, Colorado, but there is a highway nearby.
CAMPBELLAnd every once in a while, I can hear (makes noise) and I just translate that in my head as being Big Sur. And sometimes that noise we can translate a little bit, but natural environmental sounds are immensely healthy for all of us.
PAGEWe’ll close with a posting from Flo on Facebook. She says, "Here are my best and worst sounds. Worst sounds, sports announcers on radio spitting into the microphone, television sounds like music that supposedly creates drama, and my best sound, the sound of a breeze or a snoring dog, dogs playing. Good sounds, best sound, rain on a tin roof when it isn't hurricane season.
PAGEWell, Flo, thank you very much for sharing that with us. And, Don Campbell, thanks very much for being with us this hour to talk about your new book, "Healing at the Speed of Sound."
PAGEI'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.
ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Susan Nabors, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth, Lisa Dunn and Nikki Jacks. The engineer is Aaron Stamper. A.C. Valdez answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information.
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