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Interview: Michael Tyrrell

Ask any music lover, and they’ll tell you that music is an intimately powerful thing. Meticulous lyrics, a singer whose voice elicits goose bumps, a guitar solo soaring to new heights, and more have the ability to affect the listener’s mood. In fact, the ability to emotionally move fans is often considered a mark of greatness.

While this concept is generally accepted, it does not always extend to music therapy and/or frequency work, which each have their fair share of skeptics. Michael Tyrrell—accomplished musician, ordained minister, music practitioner, and the man behind Wholetones—is familiar with this uncertainty, even with a webpage full of anecdotes singing praise for his work.

I’m more of an analytical person, one who appreciates having scientific proof and hard numbers laid out in front of me. Regardless, I do see the validity of music therapy and music frequency work. Having dealt with insomnia in the past, I’ve even experimented with it to help myself fall asleep. And so, when Tyrrell’s press release floated by one of my editors here at Music Existence, both she and I were interested in learning more about Wholetones.

What follows is a conversation with Tyrrell spanning his thoughts on the music therapy industry in general, the creation of Wholetones, and more. It was an interesting conversation, and I’ll leave it up to readers to decide their own feelings on this topic.

Want to know more about Tyrrell and Wholetones? Check out his website, or listen to one of his online samples here.

ME: I was hoping we could start with a high-level overview of your background and how you came to work with music therapy.

Tyrrell: That’s a great question! My whole life I’ve been blessed enough to do one thing, which is pursuing a musical career. Besides being just someone that plays a musical instrument, I’ve composed for symphonies and orchestra scores. So when I say I’m a complete musician, I actually mean that. It wasn’t a hobby.

I’ve been able to pursue music for most of my life, and the entire Wholetones music therapy was a complete revelation [that took] about 18 years of research. To be quite frank with you, some of [that time consisted of] understanding physics and music, but not how those two things can corroborate each other. The book explains it in great detail, but there was a lot of work and a lot of trials (clinical trials as well) that went into the final product.

ME: Could you tell me more about the clinical trials?

Tyrrell: We had several different ones that we conducted, and the clinical trials we had were fantastic. What’s funny about substantiation and clinical trials is that everybody wants one more. Some of them are free. Some of them are very expensive.

Let’s see, we’ve had one that was run at Vanderbilt Clinic with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. We had several independent trials that were run at Fort Wright, Fort Lewis, and Fort Drum, primarily with males that had returned from Afghanistan or Iraq with PTSD or TBIs. The results and the emails are still astonishing. I get them every day, not only from the soldiers themselves, but also their wives and sometimes their children, who appreciate having a coherent, loving father back. The work was also mentioned by the Walter Reed Hospital in an article.

What I thrive on now is the tens of thousands of customer support emails and testimonies from credible people that talk about what Wholetones is actually doing in their life. This is one thing I’ve run into time and time again—no matter how many things you have written down, people just want one more. That’s such an energy drain for me.

I don’t have to prove that what I do works. People just have to experience it. That’s why I’m very sample heavy. We have four minutes of each Wholetones song running 24/7, so people can sample it. If it seems like it’s frou-frou or useless, those people don’t have to engage with it, but those that do engage prevalently find that it works—not just with Wholetones, but also with the entire [music therapy] industry.

ME: I noticed that Wholetones and music therapy in general does seem to have its fair share of skeptics, too. What are your thoughts about that?

Tyrrell: Yes! Oh, you want to hear something funny that I would have never guessed in a million years being a music proponent to the highest degree and an accredited composer, music scorer, engineer, and producer? I heard a few years back that they were going to start offering college courses for music therapy. I mean, you could imagine! I’m thinking, “Oh, that’s awesome, man. That’s so cool. Finally, people are going to use music as a therapeutic [device]. It’s going to be medicine for people.”

I never in the world would have thought that music therapists would have turned against me. Talk about the craziest thing. And accredited people obviously love me, because not only am I one of them, I’m actually one who has trained. I didn’t just do an online course and go play other people’s music in a room with a patient and hope they get better. Mine’s a little more intensive and calculated than that.

So someone that’s been doing this for 30 years and has a Grammy award suddenly was getting “poo-pooed” in these nouveau music therapy groups, because it was a college-accredited course and these people think that they’re doctors. None of us are doctors. I don’t care what they tell you. We’re not doctors.

Probably the greatest known therapeutic piece of music is Mozart’s “Requiem”. That was recorded in 432 Hertz (Hz), which is a very favorable frequency for the human body. [Imagine telling] one of those guys in those days, “Hey listen, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, you guys don’t have sheepskins. You can’t bring music therapy to the masses. You can’t play live and expect people to get better. You have to do it through this modality.”

So I sat down with a couple music therapists in a room and asked, “How many of you read music?” Not one of them reads music. “How many of you compose music?” Not one of them composes music. Finally, I said, “How many of you are actually musicians?” Only 10 out of 60 hands went up. And I said, “Hold on a minute, so what you do then is you take your iTunes library, you go into a room, and you play music that you’re hoping will stimulate something from an Alzheimer’s patient’s past?”

I said, “I can go light years beyond that with an Alzheimer’s patient. We can stop the beginning of regression … and try to bring this person back.” I just got absolutely lambasted. I’m still at a loss with the music therapy community, to be quite frank, even though I’m considered a music therapist.

ME: I can see how that can be frustrating. So then you didn’t actually study music therapy, rather your work with Wholetones can be considered music therapy?

Tyrrell: That’s what I’m getting at. As far as music therapy training today is considered, it’s wide-open real estate. I am not a licensed music therapist. I never in any of my writings or anywhere else claimed to be a licensed music therapist. I applaud the idea of making it a vocation.

To become a music therapist, you don’t have to be a musician. You don’t have to possess any musical talent whatsoever. I am not a music therapist and that’s where that disconnect is coming from. My music is probably doing—I won’t say probably, I have the hard numbers—more for people 24 hours a day on a clinical basis, than anything that’s available online today. We’re in 80 nations right now and have over 100,000 testimonials.

That’s not by chance, so when somebody says, “I went and played my iTunes library next to a cancer patient, and they smiled the other day.” Although I think that’s fantastic and well needed, that isn’t music therapy to me. Yet [the music therapy community] argues that’s music therapy, but what I do is not.

ME: Right…so you’re creating music that has the therapeutic tones in it that affects people in a certain way versus receiving—

Tyrrell: Absolutely, I have more of a scientific and music background, so they call us musical practitioners. I find it fascinating that they have all of these labels, which again, if you had said this to Ludwig von Beethoven, he would just say, “No, I’m actually just a voice of God.”

So I’m a music practitioner, but they’re music therapists. I can tell you that I studied frequencies for 35 years. I’ve used them in clinical trials. I’m also an inventor, so I actually have machines that create frequencies as well. And my music, I’ve seen things that I don’t talk about them too much, because it would draw attention to the point where again, I can’t meet the demands of substantiation. But I tell you, if you look at Wholetones.com, you’re going to see hundreds of testimonials about people that have not just said they felt better, but that they have actually been healed.

ME: I was wondering how you began working with PTSD, which you brought up earlier. How did you go about determining which frequencies help someone with this condition?

Tyrrell: I have a lot of friends, and I’m also an ordained minister so I’ve traveled and worked with a lot of churches around and outside the country. There was a couple I kept returning to. Fort Lewis and Fort Drum come to mind.

This is a cool story. One of the husbands’ wives came in. His name is Corey. And she started telling me about Corey, what happened when he came back from Afghanistan, and what happened surrounding his TBI and constant PTSD. I just started to cry when she told me this story. I grew up in a home where my father came back from the war that way, but they called it shellshock. We didn’t have the PTSD acronym yet. We just said they were “shell-shocked” or they “lost their minds” or whatever.

I lived with a PTSD father. My dad came back from the war, and I couldn’t really get close to him again. I understand that. It was painful to me to hear this story. You’re going to probably like this, I don’t know.

Corey came on another visit when I was at the church. I didn’t even have Wholetones to give him yet, so I walked through the back door of the church and I just hugged him. Laughs. I kept hugging him, and he was squirming, and I just kept hugging him. I said, “I’m going to send you something that’s going to change your life.” He made a funny face and walked away. So I did. I sent his wife a copy of Wholetones, and in two weeks, she called me crying hysterically.

She said, “This is like smelling salts for Corey. I don’t understand. He said it started with your hug. He didn’t say anything about the hug until after he started listening to Wholetones. He said, ‘That’s the man that hugged me. I remember him now.’”

That was almost two years ago. Today, Corey is 100% restored. He works a regular job, tells his children that he loves them, and sleeps eight hours a day, and he’d tell you it was from the hug. It’s because his wife loved him enough to get him Wholetones and play it every night.

One important thing about Wholetones or any frequency work (it doesn’t have to be mine) is there always has to be an opening frequency. And you say, “What do you mean by that?” Well, the body is an interesting piece of machinery. If you can cause the body to receive something better—like in the skin care world, if a certain brush makes the product go into the skin better—that’s a good thing. In the same way, frequencies have the ability to open the body, and there’s an opening frequency. I chose 396 Hz on the Wholetones series. You’ll see that that’s called “The Open Door.”

So when you play 396, the first thing that it’s doing to your body is it’s sending an impulse saying, “Selby, you’re worthy to be healed. Selby, there’s no reason to feel shame or guilt.” It prepares your body to receive whatever’s next as far as frequency or resonance therapy is concerned. So when you have somebody that’s dealing with PTSD or a TBI, the first question you have to ask, “What was the trauma?” Sometimes, you don’t know.

What I tell everybody with Wholetones is to do anything they want, but always start with 396 to put their bodies in a relaxed state where they can better receive [other frequencies]. The best way to find out what’s good for you is by letting your body tell you, and it will [happen] relatively quick. If you spend the just shy of three hours listening to all seven of those, inadvertently one of them will affect you.

Usually I’ll tell PTSD and TBI patients to use 396 and then 639, which is funny. They’re reciprocal numbers, but they work with each other synergistically. One opens you and the other one restores relationships. A lot of times, when someone comes back from Iraq or Afghanistan, there are a couple of issues. A lot of them are fed up with the government. We just have to deal with that. Laughs. The second part is they feel disenfranchised from their family. And third, they feel disenfranchised from themselves, because they can’t believe what they did. There are a lot of relational wounds, so the quickest turnaround I’ve seen so far is using 396 and 639 Hz. That’s a 44 minute and 44 second time for therapy, just shy of an hour every day.

ME: So then would you suggest that once you find that combination that works for you to listen to it once a day, or should be people listening to it while they sleep? How do you go about it?

Tyrrell: Here’s a perfect example: 92.4% of our listeners say that when they put on 396 Hz, [they fall asleep], even insomniacs. This is a double-edged sword, because remember, I said to start with 396. Most guys that come back from Afghanistan or Iraq can’t sleep worth a flip, none of them. If they sleep an hour or two hours a night without tremors, shakes, or night sweats, it’s a miracle.

You’ll see it at Wholetones.com when you check it out. A large portion of people that had to use narcotic medication to make them sleep went cold turkey and just started looping that frequency. I mean, they put it on infinite repeat and play it all night long. I’ve never made it more than 5 minutes in before I’m out cold myself. Most people say that within 5-10 minutes, they sleep and they don’t wake up for eight hours. So that’s a powerful thing about 396 hertz.

If you can come to peace with yourself, you can sleep. You can. If you can feel good about who you are and you can come to grips with shame, guilt, and fear, you’re going to sleep. You’re going to sleep like a baby. If you could turn your brain off and stop trying to figure out how you’re going to solve all of the world’s problems in eight hours, you’re going to sleep.

ME: That makes sense from nights where I’ve been stuck awake. Laughs.

Tyrrell: Me too, up until I used this. Laughs.

ME: I was wondering how you determined which frequencies to use. In your videos, you mentioned something about the frequencies almost being between music notes.

Tyrrell: Let me clarify that, yes. I found it in Israel. It was on a clandestine trip with a pastor from Nashville, Tennessee, and I was traveling with him. I was actually driving, and he had a feeling or a sense that we were supposed to go to this coffeehouse in Jerusalem. He believed that a friend that had no idea he was in Israel would be there. I thought that was fascinating enough to drive. It was like, “Great, I’d love to see that.” Laughs.

So we drove to this coffee house. Once we got inside, there was a guy in the corner playing music, and as soon as I sat down, he was staring a hole through my head and smiling. It was creepy at first. It was kind of unnatural. And so I thought, “I don’t get it, but I’m going to close my eyes and listen so I can focus on what he’s doing.” Laughs.

I started listening, and I thought this guy is in a Hasidic coffee house. He’s obviously Jewish himself. But he’s playing Christian worship songs, but they don’t know it because they’re instrumental. So I was laughing hysterically. Now I knew why he thought it was so funny. Somehow, he must have picked up on the fact that I was a believer as well and knew exactly what he was getting away with. After his set, he came to the table and said, “Hey, this is crazy, but I’m supposed to give you my life’s work.”

What do you say to that? I said, “Excuse me?” And he said, “Yes, my name’s David, and I feel that God would have me give you my life’s work.”

I said, “What is your life’s work?” And he said, “Decoding the songs of King David.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was like, “OK?” Laughs.

He said, “Can you wait another hour until I play my next set, and then I’ll go in the car and I’ll get you the manuscripts?” I was like, “Uh, yeah, I can sit here for forever if that’s really what’s happening.”

At the same time, my friend, Don turned around and his friend was walking through the front door of that coffee house. I thought, “This is surreal. This is one of the coolest, most clandestine, spontaneous moments of my life. I’ve got a man telling me that he’s going to give me something that God gave him that he’s worked his whole life on. And now the guy that supposedly didn’t know we were in Israel just drove from Tel Aviv to meet us in a coffeehouse, because God told him to.” So there you go, so that’s the introduction.

Upon returning to the states, I looked at the manuscript. There were two sets. There was more of what we’d call a nonpolyphonic intervallic manuscript, which is not music because there was no musical notation or key signature.

For example, David used an instrument that was tuned purely melodically and not to create chords, because chordal music obviously came much later. But the fascinating thing was that he had transcribed this music, Selby, and when I played it, I didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t feel anything exciting about it. It didn’t mean anything meaningful to me so I filed it away in a cabinet. I’m so glad I didn’t throw it away.

For two years, I just went on with my life and my work and one day, I just had this crazy thought, like, “Why didn’t you look at the other manuscript?” So I picked it up, and I started looking at the intervallic design and I realized it’s the way that you teach solfege. Solfege is sightseeing. Your mother would have taught you sort of the acapella notation. She would have taught you these notes, and you would have had to memorize the notes until they became relative to you—meaning that there weren’t any set tuners or anything. These were given down by generations. David would have taught Solomon, and such.

One thing I realized right away though with these solfeges is that the intervals were easily calculated. The reason why the translation that this guy gave me of his music that didn’t affect me was that it was translated into A. The note A = 440 Hz, and I had realized that there was something very wrong with that frequency. It was a negative frequency.

Anyway, I looked at the intervals. All of a sudden, I thought, “Oh my gosh, could it really be this easy? Could it really be 444, is it really just a four cents difference in something that could help mankind curtail their health and circadian rhythms?” Sure enough, when I started testing, I realized that more than likely, King David’s harp was tuned to A = 444 hertz and all of these other frequencies—i.e., 417, 444, 528, 639, and the other two, which are 741 and 852—come out of that particular tuning.

And the first question people have for me is, “Well, wait a minute, it doesn’t follow a common chord modulation. Wait a minute. It doesn’t fall in equal temperament tuning.” It’s for one simple reason, like I told you when I started. In those days, they did not have tuning in fifths like we do to form chords on our guitars, pianos, what have you. They played particular intervallic notes that when played together, played particular melodies. All of the songs of David are melodies. They’re not chordal and they’re not even antiphonal. Some of them are joyous celebrations. Some of them are worship. Some of them are praise, but they were all created in a melodic structure. And so, once I got to that point, that’s when the wheels fell off. That’s when the revelation of Wholetones and the intervals began my studying of how those particular intervals would affect the human body.

ME: So how do you produce the frequencies then?

Tyrrell: That’s a great question! Happy to tell you, and I’ve only shared this twice since I’ve been doing this with people, because part of it is proprietary reason.

If any of your readers go online and they go to YouTube and look for say 528 HZ, they’re going to listen to a sound that [makes a sound] like when the TVs go off at one o’clock and there’s that annoying sound. It’s created by what we call a frequency generator. It’s a sine wave. It’s a machine that produces a test tone. So what’s laughable is that on YouTube, you’ll see that tone that will say 1 hour and 20 seconds, and I’m thinking, “I couldn’t listen to that for 20 seconds, right?”

So the first issue is, let’s say, I just created something that can cure any sickness. You put it in your mouth, and you spit it out. You say, “That’s the most god awful thing I’ve ever tasted. I don’t care if it can cure cancer. I’m not eating that.“ Well then, what would be the first rationale of an intelligent person? Well, if it works, then I’ve got to make it taste good. Right? So with the musical content, the same thing’s the truth, because the music is nothing more than a spoonful of sugar that helps the frequency go down. The frequency itself is what’s doing everything, and the music is actually the delicious candy coating. Laughs.

So what I had to figure out is how to create these same frequencies naturally, so if I were to strip the music away and all you hear is that tone, you’d be just as happy and just as healthy, because they’re naturally occurring and not created by a machine. I decided that one side of the stereo spread I had in my particular mix would be nothing but real strings—you know, violins, cellos, violas. On the other side, it would be crystal glasses that I meticulously filled with water and took away with an eyedropper until I could wet my finger and run it around the rim until it perfectly sounded that note on a frequency analyzer.

I sampled and recorded both, and that became the bed of every Wholetones frequency, and everything that I did and will do from this point on. So listeners would enjoy that underlying frequency that’s in all seven of the songs, even if it was just playing by itself. But because of the nature of this project and because of what I felt led to do, we also have spontaneous music to make that even more exciting for our listeners.

I spent many years in Nashville as a producer and an engineer and also just kind of a jack-of-all-trades guitar player that played on any project he could make money on. To be quite frank with you, there’s a way that we do what we do. There’s a protocol, and none of those rules applied in creating Wholetones. When I got into the studio, I had an immediate problem. I didn’t have any music, Selby. I didn’t have any notation. The recording studio also only consisted of isolation booths, so the musicians couldn’t see each other at all. There was no clock.

All of the music you hear—all three hours of it—was done in one take, with all of us playing together without being able to see each other with no music. We all ended within 22 minutes and 22 seconds spontaneously, without help from anyone. So there you go. That’s what makes it so extraordinary. I would never record the same way again after experiencing what it’s like to play with musicians that were so on the same page as me. It’s almost like they could hear my thoughts when they were playing. So that’s how Wholetones was born.

ME: So I know we’re running toward the end of our time, and my last question is a big one. Christianity is something that plays a large part in your testimonials, as well as the story of how you came to work on this project. Would you say this is something that’s coming through the music—almost like Wholetones is meant for Christians—or is it just people that have this experience while listening to the project are contributing that experience to God?

Tyrrell: That’s another great question! For me, elementally, there’s only one thing in nature that contains all of the frequencies in the sonic spectrum, and it’s Niagara Falls. There’s a scripture that talks about it. It says, “His voice was like the sound of many waters.” So you realize the vastness of God. He can speak once, and all of those frequencies instantly are activated. From a theological standpoint, I would simply say that Wholetones is part of God’s vernacular. It speaks to people. It’s God’s voice. It speaks to people through music, through frequency.

I’ve never been an apologist about anything that I do, whether I play too loud or too soft, whether you like the color of my skin, how long my hair is, or the fact that I call myself a believer. I don’t make apology for that. I would say like Bach and Beethoven did, that everything that I’ve done that’s actually been beautiful, every good and perfect gift, comes from above.

One of the things that I always loved about Johann Sebastian Bach and all of his writing is if you look at the great HS 140 or some of his other pieces, the HS stood for Holy Spirit. I always thought that was a great use of the initials. For years, I always wondered who HS was. I thought it was this ghostwriter, and it was actually the Holy Spirit, which is even better. Laughs.

It’s really funny, as a Christian person and not a pushy one either, I have my own personal beliefs and if someone’s interested in asking a question, I’m happy to share. But I’ve found that a lot of people’s questions and answers are assimilated quickly by this project. I’m not smart enough to know all of the applications and parameters of how and where Wholetones could be used, but I can simply say that I was not expecting Christians to attach to this project whatsoever. In fact, when I first released it, I was more concerned that people would think that it was something other than what it is.

I was joyously and happily surprised that Christians absolutely loved this work, but so does everybody else, too. Faith is a very personal thing. I’ve been around Rastafarians, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Non-Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, and for me to have this thing that I can hand anyone from any faith, that they can put on and experience something special, is huge for me.

About Selby Rodriguez

A Wisconsinite adjusting to life on the East Coast. Lover of music, mother of cats, and avid drinker of beer.

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