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In conversation with Aurelio, the brain behind Svaram Pondicherry!

Tell us about yourself and how Svaram came about
Having travelled for many years all over the world and staying with indigenous cultures in search of the origin of music making of humanity and after decades of research into sound and consciousness, a primal socio-economic need for survival and employment of the rural youth in neighbouring villages sprouted the seed of Svaram, which, besides serving this immediate need, wanted to create musical
instruments that are easy to approach and open a simple entry into the magic of sound explorations and music for everyone.

Why Auroville and India?
India harbours one of the most ancient and elaborate traditions of not only music making but of a metaphysical and philosophical understanding of music as the vibrational world and its role in existence and in an evolving humanity. Auroville is an international campus of a new integral approach to life and a kind of laboratory of human evolution, bringing together the best of ‘the East and the
West’ (the ancient spiritual and modern scientific) in a creative synthesis and progressive exploration and is a rewarding place to experiment with the place of a deepening aural awareness and the role of music in education and health, peace and freedom for the emergence of a harmonious global civilization.

How does sonic healing exactly work and why must people consider this over other forms of treatment?
The work with Sound Healing is an expression of a new paradigm and holistic approach towards health and well being, and is not based on symptomatic treatments for specific ailments. The organism is seen as a totality of the physical, emotional, energetic, mental, sociological, environmental and spiritual layers and dimensions of our existence and each condition of “dis-ease” and ailment is an indicator of a general or specific imbalance and disharmony in the system. The organism and the being are stimulated through the exposure to selected harmonising frequencies to generate and reactivate homeo-dynamic self healing powers and an overall awareness of one’s ailing condition or cause of symptoms. Even while marked effects of lowering or stimulating pulse rate, blood pressure, deep relaxation and stimulation or sedating effects through rhythmic entrainment is proven, a direct scientific cause-effect relationship between an application and cure would be limiting the work into a narrow allopathic framework of trying to fix parts without taking the
whole context of the patients situation into consideration. So while there are proven direct effects of specific sound and vibrational applications, it is the totality of the phenomena, the setting, the contact, the situation, the analyses, the experience, the assimilation and integration which can bring the patient into a growing awareness of the circumstances and causes of the disharmony and its possible rebalance from its root to the full potential of the symptom, illness or crises for personal growth and transformation.

How different is Sound Healing from Music Therapy 
MT is an established academic discipline and needs 5 years of certified studies and has an international standard and code through the World Federation of Music Therapy has also a chapter in South Asia the and is clinically practised in countries all over the world. In India we see the first beginnings of available trainings in a few institutions as for example the Delhi Music Therapy Trust. Sound Healing is not yet a formally recognised practise but on the other hand possibly represents one of the original and most ancient method of healing as documented and practised by the shamans – musician – healer – priests of indigenous cultures all over the world. In the last 2 decades pioneers of the work, often inspired by ancient practises of vibrational/ sonic healing have forged a new
ground and also formed international networks like the Sound Healers Association. It is possible now in the markedly emerging and growing field also to study in courses in England, Germany, USA and also now in India (see the one year training for Integral Sound Healing offered by Svaram) the scientific, pragmatic background and possible application of this revived healing modality. While MT in its culture specific modalities is focused on the Client – Patient relational context and its psychotherapeutic implications, both in receptive and interactive settings. Sound Healing is based on the principles of resonance and entrainment through the direct application, transmission and the effect of vibrations (in their sonic expression of tone, tempo and pattern) on the organism, either through the use of specially resonant instruments like gongs, singing bowls, bells, string resonators, didgeridoos, or also through electro-mechanical and electronical devises in the field of vibrioacoustics and hemi-synch, binaural brain wave stimulations, with a plethora of new products on the market.

More on the traditions and modernity at Svaram
Having been exposed to many traditional cultures and their music ethnographies Aurelio looked into the diversity and richness of Indian folk instruments, many of them disappearing in this rapid race of change and urbanisation, before setting out developing some of the simple archetypal instruments of the Svaram range, like Lithopones, Xylophones, Glockenspiel, Ocarinas, Overtone Flute and primal
percussions. These explorations also revealed that the western equal tempered tuning system of the piano has been found only a few hundred years ago and and the international pitch of A 440 only been standardised after the second world war, is only one of many possibilities of tonal arrangements and that there have been original systems in place for millennia in India, China, Arabic Music and other cultures like the unique Gamelan of South East Asia.
At the same time contact with a young generation of sound pilgrims and travellers from around the globe brought exposure to the sophisticated use of the knowledge of the full range of frequencies in techno, trance and dance hall genres to create special physical effects on the listener. So experiences of the ancient shamanistic trance techniques in combination with the science of psychoacoustics, binaural beats , entrainment, resonance inform the ever evolving work of Svaram’s explorations of sound and its physical, emotional, cognitive, social and environmental impact.

Tell us a little about the research and explorations you are currently into.
Presently we are exploring and prototyping outdoor instruments for the use in institutions working with the limitations and challenges of climate and environmental impact on material and finishing.
An exciting area is the work with mathematically precise tuning modalities and the phenomena of pulsations and their effect on brainwaves and physicality. This is a whole new field partly inspired by avant-garde music and touches the edge of musicality, now not only in the electronic media but possibly also with pure acoustic instruments like plate bells, resonators, tubular bells bringing out the synaestetic phenomena of ‘the touch of sound”, the sensory perception and experience of sound waves on our organism – The recently launched training program SVARAM launched in January, the first one year course on Integral Sound Healing with a seminar and International guest lecturer by Joshua Leeds, the author of “The Power of Sound”. There were 35 participants form around the world and we are following up now with the next modules focusing on creativity, musical improvisation, sound awareness, science of hearing, therapeutic contact, instrument building, cymatics, and the applications of sound in a healing context.

What’s next for Svaram?
SVARAM has been running for 14 years now, emerging form a social impact community enterprise, and now is working on and planning the creation of a Campus for the Crafts, Arts and Science of Sound which shall bring together the artisan fine crafts with educational interactive exhibitions, experience museum, research centre, studios, ateliers and a school for Sound Healing. Land has been allocated within the Auroville Galaxy plan and collaborations, partners and investors are sought for this next logical development phase of bringing Svaram in its full scope and global relevance as a unique hub for the explorations of a sound new world of harmony and peace.

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