DR DES TRAMACCHI

DR DES TRAMACCHI

DR DES TRAMACCHI

JOURNEYS INTO SOUNDS: PSYCHEDELICS AND AUDITORY PERCEPTION

When we think of psychedelics, it is often in terms of the alterations they cause to visual perception. We also think of cognitive and interpretive changes to mental functions, and multi-level altered states of consciousness. Changes in auditory perception are often secondary, but have a very significant place, particularly in the context of entheogenic healing and psychedelic ritual. Anyone familiar with psychedelic dance parties will know that virtually everything sounds amazing on LSD, but we tend not to think about how and why this is the case. Indeed, many of the mysteries of the neurology of sound remain to be discovered. Music is integral to many of the great entheogenic traditions of the world (although there are interesting and important exceptions such as the silent curing ceremonies of the Mazatec and Zapotec in southern Mexico). The Bwiti religion of Gabon in West Africa is known as “The Way of the Harp” and music and dance are integral to their use of the Iboga plant. Song and dance are pivotal to many forms of ayahuasca ceremonialism in the Amazon and beyond. In Peru, the spirits of healing plants are said to teach their magical healing melodies or icaros to shamans, without which icaros a remedy will not be effective. The Native American Church uses a repertoire of healing songs in conjunction with the ceremonial use of peyote. This talk will explore the mysteries of auditory conciousness, drawing on neuroscience, music therapy, ethnomusicology and pharmacology. A survey of plants, fungi and synthetic substances known to specifically change sound perception will provide points of reference for understanding the altered workings of the auditory system. Particular attention will be given to an obscure auditory psychedelic: DIPT (n,n-diisopropyltryptamine): a unique and dramatic chemical tool for studying the perception of pitch and harmony, leading us to some fundamental existential questions: what in fact is ‘harmony’ and why does it matter to us?

DES TRAMACCHI is a scholar of religious studies specialising in entheogens. He has an long-standing interest in trance and altered states of consciousness, shamanism and other wisdom traditions. For his doctoral thesis Des conducted interviews and fieldwork with Australian psychonauts to obtain qualitative information about their DMT experiences. He is a student of ethnobotany and has trained in both biology and anthropology. Des has published and taught university courses on entheogens, religion and anthropology, new religious movements, and religion/state interactions.