Rupert Till, an expert in acoustics and music technology at Huddersfield University in northern England, says the large standing stones at Stonehenge were designed to reflect sound perfectly. That means the stone circle originally was perfect for listening to repetitive, trance-inducing rhythms.
To study the original sound qualities of Stonehenge, Till and a colleague, Bruno Fazenda, mathematically analyzed the archeological site and predicted its acoustic effects, using cutting-edge technology.
Because their goal was to measure the acoustic properties of Stonehenge when it was built, they also went to a full-size concrete replica of Stonehenge in Washington state that has replicas of all the original stones in place, where it was possible to test the original acoustics.
Using special acoustic software, Till and Fazenda compared their calculations, computer simulations, and the results of tests conducted at the Stonehenge replica.
They were able to create examples of "what the space sounded like" originally.
Judging by the echoes, they believe that simple rhythms would have been played at the same tempo as the echoes or at multiples. That would be about 160 beats a minute, the same speed as fast trance-dance music like the samba. It is also the same tempo as a fast human heartbeat, such as would be achieved by vigorous exercise such as very fast dancing.
For years, archeologists have debated the purpose of Stonehenge. In recent years two theories have been most prominent: that it was a place of healing, and that it was a place of the dead.
There are also areas within the circle that amplify sound perfectly for speaking to a large crowd and may have been used by priests or shamans leading rituals or ceremonies.
Till and Fazenda's research helps corroborate the theories of archeologist Aaron Watson, whose research suggests that the builders of Stonehenge knew how to direct sound so that the human voice would be magnified and the sound of drums or other low-pitched instruments would carry for long distances.
The new research findings indicate that Stonehenge would have been perfect for large rituals for healing or for sending the souls of the dead to the spirit world. In fact, it may very well have been used for both.
To read the entire article, go to http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/01/07/stonehenge-trance.html
Some of us were already convinced that the art of using music for healing is ancient. Research confirming that, however, is a blessing.