“Cosmic Horror” has been a successful theme in the gaming community for some time now, so I decided to make Lovecraftian horror the theme of my recent digital audio experiments.
“Over 60 minutes of electronic ambient soundscapes designed to complement H.P. Lovecraft inspired board games, card games, role-playing or reading.
These generated soundscapes employ “psychoactive” audio techniques, including microtonal tuning, subliminal content, and binaural beats with extensive use of infra-sound frequencies below 20 cycles per second, in order to evoke feelings of dread, fear and anxiety.”
In this project I have employed the “Ghost” frequency (18-19 Hz) and brain-pattern frequencies around 9 Hz to implement some of the psycho-active elements.
I use Nodal generative software to drive microtonal synthesizers and sample players (such as Sforzando) with tunings that are sometimes very different to the 12 note equal temperament octave of traditional western music. Combining traditional 12-TET with octaves split into 13, 19, 22 or 33 segments creates some bizarre and sometimes uncomfortable tonalities. Combining this with the psychoactive elements creates ambient sounds which are “other worldly” – often in a deeply disturbing way.
HOW TO ENABLE PSYCHOACTIVE AUDIO:
Infrasound is sound below the threshold of human hearing – so a human cannot hear it. Anything below 20 Hz is likely to be missed. In order to produce effects, power is necessary. You won’t sense anything using earbuds or a computer/tablet. I recommend a hi-fi system with a minimum 50W amplifier and 70 to 100W speaker cabinets. It is not that you are going to reproduce the sound at high volume (you are not, this is ambient!) – rather, it is about having the sheer mechanical power to move enough air so that the listener senses the frequency as a “pressure” in their ears. Frequencies of 18/19 Hz (the so-called “Ghost” frequency) match the sound that is sensed by animals due to impending earthquakes, and is close to the resonance frequency of human eyeballs – which has been claimed to be the cause of hallucinations.
Binaural Frequency requires only a setup with good stereo separation (for example, good quality over-ear headphones, or a hi-fi system with the speakers positioned for stereo image). By feeding different frequencies into the left and right ear, we trick the brain into thinking that it is hearing the mathematical difference in the two frequencies. So for example, by feeding 60 Hz into one ear, and 69 Hz into the other ear, the listener really hears a “beat” frequency of just 9 Hz, which normally would be well below the threshold. A resonant frequency of 9 Hz matches human brain wave patterns when a person is in an alert or excited state.
If you are of a nervous disposition, you may wish to avoid reproducing this audio material on powerful high fidelity sound systems.
Damage Your Sanity – The Madness Mixer
If you want to go really crazy, just trigger more than one track at the same time, and use the volume controls to mix your own unique nightmare !