ICBRKR EXTRAORDINAIRES: Meet Alexandre Tannous, Ethnomusicologist & Sound Therapist
Welcome to our ICBRKR Extraordinaires Series, where we periodically highlight one extraordinary ICBRKR. Our community is our backbone, and we’re proud to bring together such a passionate and engaging group of people. ICBRKR: MEET YOUR GLOBAL COMMUNITY. ⚡️
This month, we introduce you to Music Lover, Global Explorer, and Art Aficionado, Alexandre Tannous. An ethnomusicologist, sound therapist and sound researcher, Alexandre has been investigating the therapeutic and esoteric properties of sound from three different perspectives — Western scientific, Eastern philosophical, and shamanic societal beliefs — to gain a deeper understanding of how, and to what extent, sound has been used to affect human consciousness. This search has led him to the intersection of art, science, philosophy and spirituality. Get to know him better in our interview below, check out his Sound Meditation website, and join The SoundMind Collective every second Sunday of the month for a livestream of talks, meditations and live performances to assist the global community with sustaining a sound mind in these challenging times.
Alexandre, you facilitated a session with Mayan Warrior during sunset a few years ago at Burning Man and it was quite legendary. It is such an honor that we get to interview you today to get to know you better. Please tell us what inspired you to become a sound facilitator. What led you to this profession?
I have always been inspired by music since I was a child. I studied music at university for 12 years, and got 4 degrees in it. It’s my love, my passion, my inquisitive mind, and my curiosity that brought me into its deeper layers. Eventually, it got me researching the therapeutic and esoteric properties of sound. What I was used to doing before was full-heartedly music: I was a musician, composer, conductor, ethnomusicologist, and music professor. When I started studying sound, I became a sound practitioner and sound researcher. I was interested in the intersection of sound, spirituality, philosophy, and consciousness, and in the deeper layer of what music is about, rather than just entertainment and surface-level enjoyment.
Why do you call yourself a sound practitioner vs. a sound healer?
“Sound healer” is a gimmicky term, and I don’t like it because it is not true to what’s going on: it does not promote active participation, and miscommunicates the practice. It seems like sound is healing while a recipient is passive, or a sound therapist is healing them. But it is what the individual does with sound that makes it healing, and sound makes it an effective tool. I am a healer to myself, but when I work with people, I’m creating conditions for healing to happen, and each individual is an active participant. I facilitate healing, create conditions for healing to happen, give people the tools, and provide the experience, but I do not do the healing — that’s where the misunderstanding is. It is an ego inflation to call someone a sound healer, and it is disempowering to the receiver. Self-empowerment is part of the healing, for people to discover their inner capacity to heal themselves. If I call myself a sound healer, these terms create a reality that is not true.
So in order for a person to heal themselves, they need to be an active participant. How can one do that?
The first tip is to pay attention, and pay attention to how you pay attention. Get the mind out of the way, be curious, resilient, and willing to go inwards. These are some of the important prerequisites.
ICBRKR is about community and helping people discover experiences and you are about that as well. Can you tell us how you have been successfully bringing people together and helping them discover different experiences?
By transmitting things I have learned, and things that have made a difference in my life. Things connected to consciousness, the inner side of being, spirituality, music, sound, and knowledge.
You mentioned that you’re working on multiple projects that involve sound meditation including a new collective called SoundMind. It sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about this project? Are you working on other wellness projects that you are willing to share with us?
I am working on several other projects, but let’s focus on The SoundMind Collective, as it’s taking up the majority of my time. It is a collective comprised of different providers, sound practitioners, meditation and mindfulness teachers, therapists of all sorts, physicians, nutritionists, and others. Essentially, these are providers who help support people during these times so that they don’t fall into reptilian brain behavior, where they become separate from society, subject to fear, anxiety, uncertainty, scarcity, and disconnected from each other.
It is important to understand how damage really happens when people are exposed to unusual negative experiences. It is the trauma; it’s how you react to it; it’s how you label it. Our goal is to support people in how they respond to the virus (or whatever is going on) and rather than push it away, to surrender, allow, accept, trust the process, do their best. Because once you start behaving from a reptilian brain standpoint — which is a fight or flight response — you cannot pay attention to your emotional state. The reptilian brain starts to impinge on your emotions, critical thinking, logic, reason, imagination, and so on.
The SoundMind Collective provides content pro bono to help anyone who is struggling with all of this.
Amazing, and deeply needed in the world right now. What are your essential tips on how to center yourself, and navigate these stressful times?
Go inwards; don’t be afraid. Watch how your mind revolves around negative loops. Do the maintenance on the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual levels, and trust the process. Remember that aloneness is healthy.
What is your favorite city and why?
My favorite city is New York because it’s challenging, inspiring, and offers a lot of possibilities for growth and inspiration. It shows complexity on all levels: social, cultural, racial complexity in artistry, music, or whatever a person is into… It is a difficult city to navigate, and certainly is not for everybody. One needs to be able to manage heavy flows of energy and be able to stay afloat, know when to take breaks, and how to do maintenance on the self.
What is your favorite music genre?
I don’t only like genres of music, I prefer specific musical cultures with greater levels of specificity. Music that moves me. Music with the right properties that I have researched with precision and the correct divisions in the mathematics of the octave. I do not simply enjoy a genre or music that fits in a category like “Electronic Dance Music.” I like music that allows me to exercise deep listening, judicious listening, music that is suitable for contemplation.
That makes sense. Are there certain cultures of music you particularly enjoy?
I love Indian classical music, Turkish, Arabic and Persian classical music, African music, music across Asia, any music that creates positive emotions and allows for deep listening. A specific style of Indian Classical music I like is Dhrupad music.
Thanks so much for your valuable insights, Alexandre! What you are putting into the world right now is beautiful, necessary, and so helpful. We are thrilled to be able to share it with the ICBRKR community.
Interview conducted by Sylvia L. — ICBRKR Team
Use ICBRKR to connect with Alexandre and other extraordinaires in LA, New York, London, and around the world. If you think you, or a fellow ICBRKR friend, make for the perfect feature, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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