Here’s a deeper dive into the Tones, how they came to be, what our intention with them is, the effects people report they have on their lives, you know, more macro stuff. This will be a free-write topic.
I don’t have an outline or agenda. But rather will present some ideas as they occur to me. Y’all are welcome, and encouraged, to comment.
Current state of the ToneStream (this private beta) vs upcoming public beta ––
First, for clarity, we call what you hear when you use the Solu app, the “ToneStream”. This helps me think, write and communicate with the development team here. So there is the “sound design” of the ToneStream and there is the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) of the app itself. In this topic I’ll focus on the ToneStream.
The current ToneStream resembles our existing hardware product n.o.w. Tone Therapy System but has new and additional tone material.
n.o.w. Tone Therapy System uses two identical speakers to deliver a large number of different, chosen-at-random, 3 minute, pre-recorded New Origin Waveform (n.o.w.) tone sequences. Each time a n.o.w. speaker is turned on that speaker independently chooses a “1 of n” (where “n” is a large number) tone sequence at random, then plays it. The result of this random choice, and the fact that the second speaker is turned on, by the user, at some random time after the first speaker, creates a combination of tones that has never been heard before, nor will ever be heard again. A truly unique, in-the-moment experience.
ToneStream builds upon n.o.w. Tone Therapy. The left and right channels you currently hear in ToneStream are the same exact sound files as contained in the n.o.w. Tone Therapy System. But instead of the being limited to the intentional 3 minute duration of n.o.w., the Solu app supports long duration listening of the ToneStream. It’s sorta like a “long n.o.w.” lol.
We do not see the Solu app supplanting n.o.w. which is rather perfect in its intentional, time limited simplicity and its high quality physical embodiment. Rather, we see the Solu app being a complimentary experience. In order to differentiate the Solu app’s ToneStream from n.o.w. and both 1.) honor the integrity of n.o.w.'s 3 minute two-channel experience and 2.) honor listener requests for longer listening times, an inspiration occurred to me: ToneStream would use both the existing n.o.w. left and right program material but it would include new material in the form of a “phantom center” channel. The combination of the original left and right material of n.o.w. Tone Therapy plus the new phantom center material is what gives the current ToneStream its unique (and evolving, as we’ll see later…) sound.
Re: “Phantom Center” –– This is an audio engineering and psychoacoustics term for a virtual 3rd channel heard as distinctly separate from the left and right channels in a stereo soundstage. Listening over near-field speakers (2-3’ away) or via headphones / earbuds will produce a solid, yet virtual sound image that appears directly in front of the listener (using speakers) or in the center of one’s head (headphone or earbuds).
The n.o.w. Tone Therapy System audio content was created in the fall of 2016. The phantom center tone content was created in the spring and summer of 2021 and post production editing of it continues to date. When compared to the original left and right n.o.w. content, the phantom center material is slower, generally deeper in pitch and has new, long-ish “up-swell” volume ramps and fewer immediate “strike attacks” at the start of the tones. My intention was to create a phantom center channel that would be more enveloping, more like an aural “hug” and more grounding. And here’s something I have not talked about yet that I’m really excited about…
…ToneStream is not only live and composed-in-the-moment (thanks to our proprietary head end “composition engine” built by our developer and brain scientist @milton) but it will be (at the time of public beta launch and beyond) a constantly evolving experience. The phantom center and left / right material will continue to evolve as I, and the world evolve.
This is not a new idea. As a young composer and performer I was struck by the work of the Fluxus movment in general and the particular expressions of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela in their “Dream House”––an “eternal” sound and light installation. So it’s a bit of an homage for me, with ToneStream, to pay respects to the early pioneers of ambient installation sound-process works.
I am currently working on new tone recordings that will be uploaded to our live composition engine. When we announce the public beta of the Solu app in a few weeks you’ll hear the next evolution of ToneStream. Subtle, yes. But an evolution no doubt. And an evolution that will be on-going. So stay tuned to get toned anew!
I’m very thankful for all the help I get that enables me to do this work of “bringing peace and healing through sound” (our mission). Having y’all here as listeners is helpful––it really is service work you’re doing to hold presence as you listen.
With much gratitude, here’s to a great 2022!