“In tone therapy, we’ve created a space which is both safe and intriguing so we can solve some of the discomfort problem with mindfulness meditation and we can also solve some of the boredom aspects of it.”
– Michael Joly
This episode’s guest is the founder of solu®, maker of n.o.w. Tone Therapy™, a sound meditation device. Before solu®, he designed a range of professional and consumer audio products for motion picture sound, home theater, and recording studio use. He has a background as a musician, an on-air announcer and radio business development executive, and he’s also been immersed in the study of metaphysics, focusing on the intersection of sound, listening, and consciousness.
His name is Michael Joly and you can find the n.o.w. Tone Therapy™ System at nowbysolu.com. There’s a lot to unpack here, but Michael’s enthusiasm for audio and its proper use is something I really think you’re going to enjoy hearing. If you’re one of those people who are extremely sensitive to sound, I think this episode will validate and soothe you. I know Michael understands your pain!
Sounds in the Fog
Michael tells us about his first memorable experience with sound at the age of five when he heard the sound of distant foghorns on a misty morning in New Hampshire. That early memory not only sparked his interest in such experimental sound projects as Brian Eno’s Music for Airports but also paved the way for his own work with ambient audio and tone therapy. “I realized,” Michael explains, “I heard something like what Brian Eno is doing when I was a kid, that is, quasi-random overlapping of simple sounds to make new compositions. And that’s what eventually led to tone therapy.”
Listening to Nothing
We also talk about Michael’s early professional work, a career in cinematic audio technology that introduced him to a surprising new way of considering sound. “I spent a lot of time listening to the noise floor of optical soundtracks and the noise floor of magnetic tape, so I got really, really experienced at listening to nothing.” Listening to nothing became a big part of his approach to tone therapy, and turns out to be harder than we might expect. As he puts it, “I realized that you can’t be thinking and listening attentively at the same time. It’s just not possible to do. You’re either giving your full attention to what you’re hearing or you’re thinking about it, or you’re asking a question, or you’re judging it.”
The Power of Now
Michael admits that when he first read the book The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, he wasn’t impressed. But a series of changes in his life several years ago, including his struggle with depression, helped him see it in a new light. We discuss how the name of his n.o.w. tone therapy system is an homage to the book and its role in shaping his approach to sound healing, and how the sound of church bells in Frankfurt, Germany inspired the distinctive sounds of tone therapy. “I remember hearing two bells ringing, then one bell ringing, then no bells, just the foot traffic on the street,” he says. “And then, like out of the movies, the clouds parted and this beam came down.”
Surprising Yet Familiar
Tone therapy can be a challenge at first, he explains, because so many of us simply aren’t used to sitting still and turning off all our thoughts and worries. That’s why he’s worked to create a sound therapy system that, as he describes it, is both safe and intriguing, and incorporates the harmonic sequence to create an instinctively soothing quality. We also take a look at his upcoming tone therapy software service, including a brand new sonic logo.
Next week we’ll continue with a discussion of the best quality microphones, share helpful recording tips to try at home, and a look at what the future might bring when it comes to tone therapy.
Get your complimentary mini e-book and learn how to create your personalized and branded audio branding strategy with my Top Five Tips for Implementing an Intentional Audio Strategy.
Do you need a voice talent for your next project? Visit my voice-over website to find out more about how my voice can help you with your audio brand. You can also subscribe to the Audio Branding Podcast on YouTube to watch the show’s latest episodes.
This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.
Connect with the Guest
Connect with Michael Joly on LinkedIn: