Sit on a simple straight back chair, a computer chair, or kitchen or dining chair is fine. (A chair with armrests is useless for Sentic Cycles. Ease your seat as far back as you can into the chair. It is good to place a thin cushion or pillow below your shoulders between the back of the chair and your back.
Your feet should be on the ground, apart, and your thighs supported by the chair.
Sitting up correctly, your spine will be straight.
The incorrect ways to sit:
The correct way to sit:
2) Mounting the Finger Rest
The finger rest needs to be secured with the velcro patch on a hard surface at a height about the same as the chair.
The right top corner of your computer keyboard, a coffee table, or night table, of the right height is useful, or a second chair if it has a hard seat (don’t try to do Sentic Cycles with a table of wrong height; wait instead until you can use one of the right height). The coffee table or night table should be solid, and not wobble (wobbling tables are useless for Sentic Cycles). Remove the plastic cover on the bottom of the Velcro patch, and press down on the finger rest to secure it on the chosen surface.
If you use a coffee table or night table or chair, secure the finger rest just a little off the edge of the table (as shown).
3) Position of the Arm and Finger
Place the finger rest table to the side of your chair in front and side as shown in the figure. Place the third finger on the surface of the finger rest touching it with the soft pad of the tip of your finger. Your upper arm will slope slightly forward and your lower arm will slope somewhat downward. Your wrist follows your forearm smoothly, without flexing. Your third finger is gently curved as shown. Your other arm rests on your lap or thigh.
For ‘grief’ you may want to use both middle and ring finger together.
During Sentic Cycles the finger stays in contact with the finger rest all the time (the other fingers are relaxed and do not touch anything). Except for “joy”.
It is best to do Sentic Cycles in dim light, in a place where you will not be interrupted. Close your eyes.
Turn the volume control down so that the knocks sound quite softly.
The Sentic Cycles emotion cycle contains eight words:
Between a word and the next there are a number of knocks (knocks) for several minutes. Each knock in the series tells you when to begin your expression. Always wait for the next knock before starting your next expression.
What to do while Sentic Cycles is running
The first word is “no emotion”.
It is followed by a sequence of knocks (taps).
Each time you hear a knock you do a single short pressure action on the finger rest such as you might do in depressing a typewriter key. (BUT KEEP YOUR FINGER IN CONTACT WITH THE FINGER REST THROUGHOUT THE CYCLE).
Do one such short pressing action whenever you hear a knock. Wait always for the next knock before doing the next action.
During “no emotion” press each time without expressing emotion, in a mechanical way.
The next word is anger.
After this word again there are a number of knocks. As you hear a knock, you now express anger with a single expressive pressure action on the finger rest. (You can express your anger without fear of punishment. ) Wait for the next knock before pressing again, and then express anger again with a single characteristic finger pressure and so on, till you hear the next word:
Now, for each knock express the quality of hate. Again, one expression for each knock. Then comes
You may sense that a slower expressive pressure of a different character expresses this quality. Again, one expression for each knock.
Similarly for the following periods of love, sex, joy, and reverence, you will find that each emotion has its own characteristic kind of expressive pressure action.
Always do one expression for each knock, and wait for the next knock before doing the next one. Each separate expressive pressure is transmitted from the arm to the finger.
At the end of the cycle, remain sitting quietly for about two minutes before resuming your activities. You may find it most appropriate and pleasant not to converse for a little while after doing EFA. Ease into your activities gradually.
Am I doing Sentic Cycles correctly? A Quick Checklist
If you are tall you will mostly need a substantial pillow on your seat, so that your thighs will be supported. (Chairs are made at the same size, unless their height is adjustable, such as computer chairs – but people are not. )
Short people need a support under their feet (a large book, for example) to allow the heels to rest flat.
Remember, the idea in Sentic Cycles is not to strive to have the emotions be as intense as possible, but rather experience them in a moderate way.
Which arm should I use?
Each time you do a cycle use only one arm for a complete cycle, either the right or the left arm, and place the finger rest accordingly. You will find it valuable to do Sentic Cycles with either arm, and experience their subtly different quality and emotional effects (whether you are right- or left-handed). Don’t switch arms in the middle of a cycle.
What will happen if I do not follow the instructions?
CAUTION: INCOMPLETE CYCLES
DO NOT INTERRUPT DOING THE SENTIC CYCLES, ESPECIALLY DURING THE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS.
You may end an emotion cycle at any point after the love phase, if you need to, but you should complete the cycle unless there is reason not to. It is possible also to begin a cycle with the love phase and proceed to the end of the cycles if you can spare only a few minutes time.
Remember, the idea in Sentic Cycles is not to strive to have the emotions be as intense as possible, but rather experience them in a moderate way.
Your Experience of Sentic Cycles
You will notice that for some emotions you will tend to express in a direction away from the body, at a downward and outward angle, for others you may wish to press vertically, or slightly towards your body. Thus, anger and hate will tend to be away from your body. Grief and joy, near vertical. Love will tend to have a caress-like form-you may wish to slide on the finger rest slightly, for each expression.
Your body will feel very relaxed and quiet, almost as if asleep, except for your expressing arm and your head. You will find that your head will tend to tilt a little differently for each emotion. Your breathing will also vary with each emotion.
For “no emotion” you need not make an effort to feel nothing, just do not express a feeling.
Some notes about specific emotions
Some persons find it difficult at first to clearly sense the difference between anger and hate. Yet it is clear that for example, you can be angry at a child and not hate the child. You will gradually become clearer about the passionate destructive impulse of hate and realize that anger does not have this wiping out or killing quality, but can be constructive when allied with appropriate impulses. You will notice their different expression and learn to distinguish anger from hate in yourself and in others. Hate is included in Sentic Cycles, not so that you can learn to hate better, but so that by knowing what hate is, you can better recognize and cope with it, both in yourself and in others. In most of us there tend to be vestiges of hate usually related to frustrated, unexpressed anger and especially a sense of injustice. As a person becomes more adept in doing Sentic Cycles, he/she will gradually find less need for the hate phase as an expression of his feelings. It will still retain a usefulness, however, as a means of empathically understanding what others may experience.
Love and sex are polarized in the Sentic Cycles cycle. The love phase is meant mainly as an experience of brotherly or motherly love. That is, a love without sexual urgency. Sex is meant to focus on the purely erotic. Feelings of love can be combined with this. As your experience in Sentic Cycles grows, you may be increasingly able to differentiate and combine love and sex and their expressions.
A good way to do joy is to imagine oneself jumping, or taking off, with each expression and then gently, gradually float back to the ground in an ecstatic way. You will notice that the way in which you ease back to the ground in imagination is important to give the expression of joy its true character. While in actual jumping the body, being heavy, returns to the ground quite quickly, in imagination (in expressing joy) we float back more slowly to the ground. When done right with your arm and finger, the experience will give you a particular sensation throughout the body, down to your legs and feet.
Hugging another in joy is a different image that would give rise to a different expressive pattern, a rather more compound emotion.
Reverence, of course, is not meant as reverence for a particular person but as reverence for nature, God, something much larger than oneself (not an elephant!). Many persons may find the expression of reverence somewhat unfamiliar. If you do you will probably gradually discover its form for you within two or three sessions, and have satisfaction in doing so.
What you may experience while doing Sentic Cycles
Assuming that you are doing it correctly you will experience much of the following:
Your body will become very quiet. Yet you will experience various bodily sensations: heaviness with grief, lightness with joy, a sense of flow with love. In anger and hate you may sense muscular tensions in the abdomen, perhaps some clenching of the teeth and sometimes a sensation of your limbs tending to fly apart. In addition, you may experience physiological changes in your body-some sexual excitement during sex, possibly some tears and crying during grief. You may experience changes in your heart rate (although these may not be noticed) and, of course, changes in your breathing.
You will know when you are expressing a particular quality correctly from the way it feels to you. For each expression you can be aware how that expression felt. You will gradually become more familiar with many subtle qualities of each emotion, in a self-refining process.
What you may experience after doing Sentic Cycles.
Shortly after doing Sentic Cycles you will probably experience a marked sense of calmness and peace. If not shattered by immediately succeeding, traumatic events, this feeling should last several hours. You will be relieved of anxiety and nervousness.
In this calm, filled with energy, you will have a different perspective on your goals and desires, and be less anxious about their fulfillment. In the words of a nurse who has done Sentic Cycles for several years, you may also have “awareness that I have energy to do any tasks I may want to do”.
If it is time for sleeping, or if you have accumulated a sleep deficit, you will feel like sleeping and quite likely have a sound, deep and restful sleep.
The insights you have gained will remain with you and help you to understand the nature of your emotions and those of others, and help you to spontaneously communicate the qualities of your feelings. In time, you will be more readily in touch with your real self, and express it to others.
Most of all you will often experience gladness to be alive – based on a fundamental feeling of the rightness of things, the blessedness of existence.
Let your breathing go as it feels for each emotion. You will tend to breathe in harmony with your expressions. You will probably find that for anger and hate you will often breathe with a sharp expiratory puff for each expression. With “no emotion” your breath will tend to be even and comparatively shallow. For grief you may breathe like a sigh with each expression, tending to stop at the end of each expiration.
For love, breathing will tend to be even, slow and rather deep. Love expressions may begin anywhere during the breath cycle, but are favored to begin near the end or the beginning of inspiration.
For sex, breathing will tend to be chopped, with short, mostly expiratory gasps, interspersed with stops.
For joy, inspiration will tend to coincide with each expression.
For reverence, breathing is quite slow and will tend to stand still at the end of each deep inspiration. It is the opposite of sighing.
Breathing will generally be faster for anger, hate, sex, and joy; slow for grief, love, and reverence.
At first you may find it easiest to generate each emotion by imagining a particular scene or person. After a number of sessions you may find that you often don’t need to imagine such scenes and recipients in order to express these emotions.
As you express the various emotions, you will find that each emotion may flash memories into your awareness associated with it. Acting as a search light to illumine your various past experiences, perhaps way back to childhood, it will bring them into focus effortlessly, in free association.
You may also spontaneously generate fantasies about new experiences.
Whenever a new emotion is announced , you will tend to be quite fresh in being able to experience the new emotion. As you do many expressions of the same emotion, you may find that for a while each expression will tend to increase the intensity of feeling; but after a while the intensity having reached a certain level, for some emotions your mind may at times begin to wander and the intensity to fluctuate. Doing Sentic Cycles does not require you to strive to have high intensity emotions. This wandering of attention if It occurs is quite common. When you become aware of it, simply bring your mind back to the quality of the emotion. Towards the end of some of the emotion periods you may feel satiated with that particular quality. However, you will probably be quite fresh to experience the next emotion called for in the cycle.
You will find that it takes a few moments to change from one emotion to another. Changing from one emotional state to another during the cycles will become progressively easier with practice.
The quality of feelings that you will experience may teach you insights about relationships and experiences that will come to your awareness as you express. These insights may be very valuable to you.
As you become familiar with doing Sentic Cycles you may find that the 25 minutes will seem to pass very quickly and may seem perhaps no more than 10 minutes long. You will also find that the knocks seem to follow each other with little waiting time. Doing Sentic Cycles can produce an accelerated time sense.
By contrast, your daily activities after doing Sentic Cycles may seem deliberate, quiet, and spaced out with plenty of time to maneuver in. This sense of spaciousness of time is one of the consequences of doing Sentic Cycles, and goes with the absence of anxiety.
Some extensions to the standard method
Apollonian and Dionysian ways of doing EFA
As a person becomes more adept in his experience of Sentic Cycles, he or she becomes aware that every emotion can be expressed in two different ways of innerconnectedness. The first way is the way in which a person expresses his own feeling as a person, as a personal ego trip. We call this the Dionysian way. You will tend to use this method when you are under considerable emotional stress, and doing Sentic Cycles in this way will be a helpful outlet to your feelings, defuse the stress and relieve your anxieties.
When you do Sentic Cycles in the Dionysian way with high intensity emotions, the experience can be quite draining. You might feel exhausted and drained instead of being energized. Repeated experience of Sentic Cycles will tend to even out the intensities and settle at a moderate level of intensity.
Another way of expressing your emotions is in their own pure quality, as existences – like the experience of going out into a beautiful garden, being under the starry skies, or being rocked by the waves of the ocean. In this Apollonian mode the emotions are expressed as their pure essences, and may be enjoyed in their purity. The negative emotions too can be enjoyed, much as a musician may enjoy performing a sad piece of music – and, in many instances, the sadder, the better! In this way the emotions become transformed from ego trips to a celebration of existence. Even reverence attains an additional dimension as we appreciate the special gift of its quality.
There is no hard and fast line that separates the Dionysian and Apollonian way of doing Sentic Cycles, and the two may merge into each other, especially for “Love”, or fluctuate in any given experience. But you will become gradually clear about their polarities.
Taking Notes on your Emotion Experience.
For those who are doing Sentic Cycles on a continuing basis, it can be useful to make regular notes concerning your feelings, bodily experiences and fantasies, about a half hour to one hour after each experience. Make notes for each emotion of the cycle, and score yourself from 0 to 5 on the intensity of each emotion experienced. Aim in general not to eventually achieve high scores, but rather enjoyable moderate levels.
Your accumulated notes can become a valuable resource to you, documenting your progress and insights.
How Couples can do Sentic Cycles Together
One of the best ways off doing sentic cycles is to do them together with your partner. It can be a wonderful experience, and doing it repeatedly can greatly enhance your relationship.
The two partners first learn to do sentic cycles individually, using the same tape and finger rest at different times. It is good to do sentic cycles at the same time, using the two finger rests supplied with each CD or tape. The finger rests should be mounted on separate tables so that the expression of one table does not jar the other.
The Couples Way of Doing Sentic Cycles Together
After the two partners of the couple have learned to do sentic cycles well separately, and have discovered their own forms of expression and emotions (this will normally take three sessions) they are ready for a special treat: they can now do the sentic cycles expressing directly on the palms of their partner’s hands, without a finger rest. To do this they need to learn a couple’s special way to do sentic cycles.
In this way, a couple sits on the floor with folded legs, facing each other, knees touching.
Each person puts the hand that is not expressing on the knee of the partner, palm up. Both partners express with the third finger of their expressing hand on their partner’s palm (see figure). The sentic cycle CD or tape is played as usual and partners express at the same time, with each click.
(Long fingernails can cause your partner pain. If your fingernail is long, don’t try to do sentic cycles in this way — your partner will experience the wrong emotion!). You will probably find a place somewhat to the side of the center of your palm most comfortable on which to express. Do not press directly on the knuckles. It is a good idea to sit on a cushion when doing this so that your legs will not “fall asleep”. Some persons may need to have their backs supported, by sitting against a wall or the foot of the bed.
Couples doing sentic cycles will be amazed to discover how they can traverse the entire spectrum of emotions together. Intense feeling of one phase may be replaced by the next phase and so on until at the end of the cylce you will feel the wonder off having shared all these feelings and you may realize how similar changes of emotions may occur in daily interaction and yet the common bond may strengthen. Doing sentic cycles together in this way can strengthen a couple’s empathy for one another and deepen their caring for each other.
How to Work on your Relationship using Sentic Cycles
Apart from the pleasant experience that doing sentic cycles with each other gives you, you will find the period of calm after doing sentic cycles invaluable for relating to each other in a new, different way. Matters that may have been troubling you about each other can be discussed in an hostility-free atmosphere and you may be able to communicate with each other in a very different way, causing various breakthroughs in your relationship.
When you do this systematically for some months, you may find that your growth together has been immeasurable enhanced.
By practicing sentic cycles you will learn to express your feelings and desires better through touch and to communicate sexual excitement, arousal, as well as affection and happiness. Sadness, too can be shared better when fully and faithfully expressed.
Sentic Cycles is a unique and simple method, an artform of touch.
Sentic Cycles lets you generate and express your emotions in a series, as a spectrum, your emotion ‘symphony’, so you tend to become free from emotional rut – being stuck in one emotion
– and be in touch with your real self – not overwhelmed by single emotion (yet able to savour them all as in music).
It takes only 10 minutes to learn to do it – and then you may benefit from doing it anytime the rest of your life – as long as human nature does not change! Anyone can do it.
It uses only your own natural expressions of emotion to generate and to enjoy them. Using expressive pressure of a finger on a finger rest you focus on the quality of each expression, while the rest of your body becomes quiet.
Expressing each emotion in this way a number of times (20-40 times) tends to generate that emotion. Every 3 to 4 minutes you smoothly change to the next emotion.
Discover your own simple art of touch.
Going through virtually the entire spectrum of emotions takes only about 25 minutes.
Like prayer, it costs nothing to do it.
You may feel peaceful afterward for up to 24 hours, and whatever you have to do will tend to feel more enjoyable.
It was discovered and developed by Dr. Manfred Clynes, in 1968, then chief research scientist at the Research Center of Rockland State Hospital, Orangeburg NY, called a ‘sentic cycle’. It has been used beneficially by thousands of people throughout the years.
For more information about the work of Dr. Clynes see http://superconductor.com/clynes.htm
We all tend to be prisoners of emotion more than we may wish to be. Emotions make life enjoyable and meaningful, but not if you are in an emotional rut, where a particular, most often negative, emotion takes over, and makes it hard to get out of, even temporarily. Often such negative emotions are suppressed, but still interfere with function and freedom of experience.
Sentic Cycles allow you to experience and express all such emotions more constructively, without being overwhelmed by them. Like music, like an artistic experience, the emotion becomes an example of your own humanity: it allows you to savour that emotion as one that is shared by humanity. At the end of the Sentic Cycle you may feel a sense of belonging, a sense of being glad to be alive.
You need two things: the Sentic Cycles Download sound file and the Finger Rest. Then you are ready to do Sentic Cycles. You can order the complete kit, including CD, user guide and finger rest direcly from this site.
The finger rest lets you express with one finger, and at the same time the other fingers can be relaxed, without touching anything.
The surface of the finger rest does not give you a textured message of its own as most surfaces do. The finger rest has just enough give for a sense of interaction, and enough resistance to allow adequate expression of negative emotions.
After some minutes, one tends to forget about the finger rest and it becomes, so to speak, part of one’s body.
For this to work, you need the timing signals, soft knock signals, given to you every few seconds by the Sentic Cycles Program which you download. The knock signals are spaced in time to suit each emotion, and so that you will not be able to anticipate when the next knock signal comes, even after many experiences. The timing of the knock signals, timed differently for each emotion, enable you to harmonize with your own inner timing to generate each emotion. As each signal comes, you express by pressing on the finger rest in a way that you feel expresses that emotion. As you wait for the next soft knock, it may seem a bit like a dialogue, while your body becomes very quiet, and you can become aware of the tensions and flows that you experience as you feel each emotion.
Sentic Cycles is a structure in time that lets you compose your own symphony of emotions.
The Sentic Cycles sound file has a number of spoken words and timing signals (taps) that allow you to express and generate emotions, as explained in the following.
The timing gives you the freedom to generate and experience the qualities of your emotions-fantasies and memories associated with these emotions, and new images as they spontaneously arise. emotion first aid let you express emotions naturally, without inhibition and fear of consequences.
Sentic Cycles lets you have the biological time-forms for expressing and generating the qualities of your emotions-with each emotion having its own time form.
The Sentic Cycles sound file, containing eight words and a series of clicks, may seem deceptively simple. But the subtleties it embodies are essential to make the experience possible.
Sentic Cycles probes far deeper and higher than may appear.
Once you have the Sentic Cycle sound file or CD and the finger rest you are ready to have a very special and unique experience and keep having it whenever you wish, for as long as you live. To have this experience please follow the instructions. Pay particular attention to posture and sitting. Make sure you have the right kind of chair, and proper support for the finger rest. With these taken care of, you will find emotion first aid extraordinarily simple and easy to do. You should feel some of the benefits after the first, second, or third experience.
You may do Sentic Cycles at any time but the best times are in the morning after getting up, after breakfast, or in the dusk at evening, or an hour before bedtime. It is not a good idea to do Sentic Cycles after a substantial meal.
Should you have a restless night, you may find it good to get up and do one Sentic Cycle and then go back to sleep.
Three or four times a week is a good measure for average long-term use. In periods of stress you may like to do them more often – even several cycles a day, under great stress. For special purposes, such as in an effort to stop smoking or to lose weight by suppressing hunger, freeing yourself from drug habits and addictions, several hours of Sentic Cycles a day can be helpful. Too many cycles done in a short space of time will tend to slow you down, and reduce your drive.
You may wish to use Sentic Cycles to prevent nervousness or stress, for special occasions; before examinations, public performances, lectures, and the like. Half a cycle can be sufficient for this (to the end of “Love”) done about half an hour before the occasion arises.
Farewell to Australia
Here we are together, says my friend
I am Australian and you are a Jew ;
We each dance
He says it without malice
only in ignorance –
Only as Director of an Institution
who is a friend
And then we play
NEW YORK — When a man with a unique beard announces that Beethoven’s last quartets are actually storage devices for noble emotions — emotions that he can now reproduce with an Apple computer — some sort of background check is in order.
Now then: Who is Professor Manfred Clynes, and what are his scientific credentials?
Prof. Clynes, an esteemed neuroscientist, formulated the basic biological law that explains, among other things, why it is impossible to smell the fading of an odor. He also invented the machine that was for many years the standard laboratory device for measuring brain waves.
Fair enough. And his musical credentials?
Prof. Clynes has performed piano recitals to great acclaim on three continents. He studies with Pablo Casals. Sir Yehudi Menuhin, the violin virtuoso, calls him a friend and “a brilliant musician”.
Well. And his literary credentials?
Prof. Clynes is a published poet and the author of five books. He coined the word “cyborg”. He also coined the word “sentics” to describe a new science entirely of his own devising.
Anything else? A fan letter from Albert Einstein maybe?
“Your art combines a clear understanding of the inner structure of the music with a rare spontaneity of expression. . . . I am convinced that you will meet with the understanding to which your achievement entitles you,” Einstein wrote to Prof. Clynes in 1953, after hearing him perform a program of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert.
Why have so few people heard of so eminent a polymath as Manfred Clynes? For one thing, the 66-year-old scientist has spent the past 12 years in Australia. For another, “He’s working on things that are so far out that people don’t follow up on them much. it’s time that more people looked into them,” says Marvin Minsky, the Harvard scholar and dean of artificial-intelligence research.
Prof. Clynes proposes that when human emotions are expressed, they have shapes — real ones, shapes he has measured with a machine, the same from one person to the next, as recognizable (and reproducible) in a painting, a gesture or a song as in a frown. His proposition is so embarrassing to traditional scientists that when he first presented a paper on the topic, at a conference in 1968, the audience laughed out loud.
But he has been refining his theory ever since, and influential thinkers are taking notice. “I think artificial intelligence isn’t going to approach human capability until it understands that emotions aren’t really separate things, but different kinds of knowledge,” says Prof. Minsky. “That’s one of the reasons the field is stuck.”
Perhaps, some day, Prof. Clynes’s work will enable computers to feel, and then we will have a few words with them. But his theory actually has far more immediate implications. If he is right, it should be possible to experience a new kind of laughter. It should be possible to sit down with a musical score and an unfeeling computer and synthesize a performance of Beethoven that is as Beethoven meant it to be played. All these Prof. Clynes says he has done.
The music Prof. Clynes has produced is still recognizable as synthetic — synthesizers aren’t yet up to producing sounds absolutely faithful to instruments. But it is also recognizably moving. “I threaten my students with it,” says Robert Abramson, a professor of music at New York’s Julliard School. “I say, ‘This is what a computer can do. Can you do better?'” And Prof. Clynes’s music is, as much as anything, a demonstration of his ideas about the brain — a logical approach, as music contains a much richer vocabulary than words do for conveying emotions.
The root of Prof. Clynes’s theory goes back to his boyhood in Vienna, where his father designed paddle-wheelers that steamed the Danube, his mother wrote plays and studied physics, and his maternal grandfather invented the soda siphon. “When I was a child, I used to listen to Casals playing Schubert trios” on records, Prof. Clynes says. “I used to have these wonderful moments of ecstasy that seemed tremendously important. And I assumed that other people had them all the time only much later I found out that wasn’t the case.”
His family migrated to Australia in 1938, and there Prof. Clynes studied music, engineering, physics, and mathematics. Eventually his path led him to the biocybernetics research laboratories at Rockland State Hospital in Orangeburg, New York, where he took some transistors and a tape recorder and built the first Computer of Average Transients for measuring human brain waves.
After hooking up his invention to the scalps of many volunteers, Prof. Clynes made a startling discovery: Different people’s brains respond in the same, orderly, predictable way when stimulated by the color red. Prof. Clynes began to wonder whether the process could be reversed — that is, whether inner states would register uniformly when different people were hooked up to an output device. So he built another machine, an exquisitely sensitive instrument for measuring the pressure applied by a fingertip, which he called a sentograph.
Casting about for a way to test his hypothesis, he remembered the observation by German musicologist that experienced musicians, when asked to wave a finger to “conduct” pieces by different composers, tended to produce patterns, or shapes, that were characteristic for each composer. He hooked himself up to his sentograph and thought his way through pieces by Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert, and made clearly different shapes for each composer. Were they just his own shapes? Or were they somehow absolute?
Here Prof. Clynes’s research almost went off a cliff, because the next person he hooked up to the sentograph was the pianist Rudolf Serkin, who turned out to be a wise guy. “We asked him to think Beethoven, and he would think Mozart,” Prof. Clynes says. “But we could tell by looking at the printout. So he cooperated, and we got the same shapes. That was probably the most exciting moment of my life.”
Prof. Clynes verified his findings using the fingers of Pablo Casals and other accomplished musicians, and was able to derive shapes representing the “inner pulses” of different composers — not unlike the brush strokes of different artists. He concluded from this that touch expression and musical expression have the same origin in brain function. Could it be, he wondered next, that emotions themselves were similarly hard-wired, as firmly rooted in physiological reality as is the genetic code?
He hooked up his sentograph up to hundreds of subjects, recording the patterns they made when asked to use finger pressure to express anger, lust, hate, joy, reverence, and other conjured emotions. He took the machine — a preindustrial-looking thing in a wooden box — to Mexico, Japan and Bali to factor out cultural bias. The shapes of emotions, which he called “essentic forms”, were the same wherever he went. The experience of a given emotion and its expression, he concluded, were an indivisible unit, programmed in the brain. That explained why emotional communication was so often unambiguous: why children cringe at scowls, why Michelangelo’s Pieta evokes grief, why the whole world knew what Khrushchev meant when he banged on a desk with his shoe.
It might also explain why some music is great and other music is not great — why, in Prof. Clynes words, “anyone who has heard Beethoven’s last quartets tends to become stronger.” First he discovered mathematical parameters for the “inner pulses” of various composers, and then he set to work programming a computer. He used the program to manipulate phrases, amplitudes, individual note shapes and infinitesimal pauses, looking for essentic forms in music that would give maximum satisfaction to the brain — the kind of satisfaction that his own young brain had experienced listening to Casals.
Lest this seem like labor that only a wonk could love, Prof. Clynes quickly points out that it still depends on a programmer’s artistry. Overcoming the tyranny of technique, it allows a musician to refine a performance outside of time — to stop, back up and fix phrases at a unprecedented level of detail, working like a sculptor toward a more perfect sonata.
There are skeptics. “We will never have great performances coming through that route,” says Yehudi Menuhin. “It’s like using a thermometer. It tells you something about what’s going on, but it doesn’t cure anything.”
And there are believers. “We have taught (musicians) to read the notes, but not the music,” says Julliard’s Prof. Abramson. “What comes out is a simulacrum of music, without any of the meaning. (Prof. Clynes) is showing people that there are ways of actually transmitting emotions in music. But this is stuff that nobody can talk about.”
Prof. Clynes has obtained patents on his computer program and set up a company called Microsound International Ltd. in Sonoma, California, to refine it.
About that new form of laughter: Try putting your middle finger on a flat surface, setting up an internal giggle and preventing your throat from moving. Now press down with your finger, about five beats per second. If you get it right, it can be hard to stop.