Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What's "Entrainment"?



There's always more to Van Morrison than you think.  What does "my waitress, my waitress" mean?  Or "Justin, gentler than a man"? Or even "Into the Mystic"?  
Van has always had a penchant for lyrics that aren't obvious.  In fact, in general, the more obvious the lyric, the more harshly the song has been judged.  It's the songs with  the confusing lyric lines that have received the most acclaim.  Who is Madam George?  Who is Justin?

That's Entrainment was a great song from the 2008 album Keep it Simple
You by the countryside
Oh you when you reach the sky
You and you're climbing up that hill
Well you when we're listening to the little whippoorwill

You when the sun goes down
You in the evening, in the morning when the sun comes round
You with your ballerina dance
Well you put me back in a trance
Well you take my breath away
Oh you even on a cloudy day
You make me holler when you come around
You make me holler when you shake 'em on down

That's entrainment, that's entrainment, that's entrainment, that's entrainment
That's entrainment, that's entrainment, that's entrainment

Well you take my breath away
Oh you even on a cloudy day
Well you on that old sea shore
Ah you when you're holding out your hand for more

Well you when you come around
Well you make me shake 'em on down
Well you in the morning, in the morning when the sun comes up
Well you in the evening when the sun goes down

You make me holler, make me holler when you come around
Oh want you to shake your money maker, want you to shake 'em on down
Shake your money maker, shake your money maker, shake 'em on down

That's entrainment, that's entrainment, that's entrainment
Called that's entrainment, that's entrainment, that's entrainment
That's entrainment, that's entrainment
That's entrainment, that's entrainment
Now you put me back in a trance
That's entrainment, that's entrainment, that's entrainment
That's entrainment, that's entrainment

What is entrainment? When Keep it Simple was released the world reached for their dictionaries.  Okay, so maybe not the world but several of us did.  Entrainment has a number applications across technical fields.  We love our Van when he comes up with this kind of stuff.   

In the field of biomusicology, entrainment refers to the synchronisation of organisms to an external rhythm, usually produced by other organisms with whom they interact socially. Examples include firefly flashing, mosquito wing clapping as well as human music and dance such as foot tapping.  So says Wikipedia.  Are you entrained to Van's music?

The phenomenon of entrainment was discovered in approximately 1665 by a Dutch scientist named Christian Huygens.  He had a room with a number of pendulum driven clocks in it, and he observed that over time the pendulums of all the clocks fell into synchronisation with each other. Even if he deliberately started them swinging at different times, he would inevitably return to find they had resynchronised themselves with each other. He called this synchronisation tendency "entrainment".
Scientific research has proven that certain people develop the ability to use their whole brain and to live in a more balanced state characterised by brain synchronisation and whole brain functioning. Some of the most brilliant scientists, technologists and artists throughout history had a high degree of "whole brain synchronisation".

In October of 1973 a remarkable report “Auditory Beats in the Brain” by Dr. Gerald Oster of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center was published in the Scientific American.  It explained, when tones of different frequencies were presented separately to each ear, pulsation's called binaural beats occurred in the brain.
This resulted in the whole brain becoming entrained to the internal beat and resonating to that frequency. Oseter's report has potential for application in a variety of fields. 
At the same time, Robert Monroe of the Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences was also studying binaural beats. In countless experiments, using an EEG machine to observe the subject's electrical brain wave patterns, Robert Monroe confirmed that he could without a doubt entrain brain wave patterns using binaural beats.

He also noted that the response did not only occur in the area of the brain accountable for hearing, or only in one or the other of the hemispheres, but rather the whole brain resonated, the wave forms of both hemispheres becoming identical in frequency, amplitude, phase, and coherence. Many other researchers have also verified this phenomenon.
 So there we have entrainment or should I say there is a brief introduction to a complex concept spread out over many disciplines within science.  As for the song “That’s Entrainment,” it's classic Van.  It seems like it’s both nothing special and extraordinarily wise. Now that's Van all over.  That's why we love our "mystic from the East".  

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