thoughts on incorporating infrasound


having a background in neuroscience, music has always been a fascinating concept of study.
the cognitive processing of music is handled differently than speech and often when stroke patients loose access to speech pathways, music therapy can be used to help with communication. a simple example is the inability to say “happy birthday” but prompted with a the first few notes of singing happy birthday suddenly they can sing the whole song.
here, however, the idea of infrasound communication presents some unique perspective on crafting “sound”. music is more than what we hear, and the tactile components seem worth exploring.

very-low frequency sound (8–37 Hz) increases dancing

“I’m trained as a drummer, and most of my research career has been focused on the rhythmic aspects of music and how they make us move,” says first author Daniel Cameron, a neuroscientist from McMaster University. “Music is a biological curiosity – it doesn’t reproduce us, it doesn’t feed us, and it doesn’t shelter us, so why do humans like it and why do they like to move to it?”

'“low pitches confer advantages in perception and movement timing, and elicit stronger neural responses for timing compared to high pitches, suggesting superior sensorimotor communication. Low frequency sound is processed via vibrotactile and vestibular (in addition to auditory) pathways, and stimulation of these non-auditory modalities in the context of music can increase ratings of groove (the pleasurable urge to move to music), and modulate musical rhythm perception. Anecdotal accounts describe intense physical and psychological effects of low frequencies, especially in electronic dance music, possibly reflecting effects on physiological arousal”

By introducing levels of bass over speakers that were too low to hear and monitoring the crowd’s movements, scientists found that people danced 11.8 percent more when the very low frequency bass was present


If you’re after 11.8% more dancing then incorporating infrasound it seems like a no brainer to me

Makes me wonder about surface transducers, actually. Since frequencies that low are felt more than heard, what happens if you lace a dance floor with transducers for the sub-sub-bass?

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Don’t some clubs already do this? Or do the transducers they use only go down to sub-bass?

I believe Fabric in London has a vibrating dancefloor, I’ve not heard of any others. But I doubt there would be much sub-sub-bass to be found in the music that’s played, as usually any extremely low frequencies are filtered out at the mastering stage. You’d need music specially conceived for that, which I imagine is what they did for the studies.

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“A recent study in the journal Current Biology found that people danced 12% more when very low frequency bass was played.”

This is just so funny to me. It strikes me as such common knowledge that of course this is true.

But what is even funnier to me is that they are trying to verify this by doing “drops”

“We turned VLF speakers (8–37 Hz) on and off every 2.5 minutes over 55 minutes of the performance”

To me this plays right in to what djs do to get people to dance and stay dancing. You can’t just go, go, go all the time. You need to let off the bass, let people sway then bring it back. Every dj does this. When the bass kicks back in you follow it. It’s a vernacular. Producers engineer tacks this way. To have “scientists” come in and be like “our study has found…” or whatever feels really out of touch with the actual engineers of this form: people making the tracks, the systems, and running the mixers, people dancing… like do the scientists think these people aren’t aware of what they’re doing?

I’m curious if the increase in head movement was consistent throughout the entire vlf phase or spiked and then tapered off. If it was the later you could almost make an argument for a more cultural cause than physical.

Take a look at these graphs!

Seems like a pretty steep attenuation after 40Hz. Also, I’d just like to point out the Y axis isnt labeled. On a big sound system there is a whole range unexplored there that tracks definitely make use of. There is a void of bass there. Seems more like taking bass out than adding it in. That peak around 30Hz especially.

I’d be curious to see them break those two VLF peaks into two separate experiments and see if people dance or “nod their head” more to 36 Hz or 18 Hz instead of lumping everything below 40 into VLF.

And you can’t quantify dancing off of just head movement. Bad science really sets me off lol.


The job of science is to confirm what we already think we know just as much as it is to discover brand new things we never knew before. A study which confirms a preconception is certainly less glamorous than the alternative, but it’s hardly bad science.


i always love a good ol’ journal review, however there are a couple things here to address:

the graph you posted does have a y-axis: its “sound level”. which makes sense the level would be low at the lower frequencies if the VLFs are off.

the VLFs they were turning off and on were also in the non-audible range:
To confirm that the VLFs were not consciously detectable, 17 new participants (one of whom participated in the concert experiment) completed a two-alternative forced choice task using the same VLF speakers in the LIVELab. On each trial, participants heard two pairs of 3.5 s excerpts from the concert audio and indicated which pair’s excerpts were different (all excerpts in the trial were identical except for the presence or absence of VLFs in one excerpt). Participants performed at chance (mean 49.8% correct, SD = 4.56%)

theres a little more to unpack here, but bass in music and pleasure/dancing has been previously studied and sited by the study. the interesting connection here may lie in the physical sensation of VLFs and they’re possible role in the reward pathway.


I had many other qualms than its lack of glamour.

I guess all I have is emprical evidence that I definitely notice that steep of a roll off after 40Hz and that presence and absence of amplitude around 30Hz.

Yes it has a label. I should be more specific: it lacks a scale. No units, no meter.

I didn’t know, or perhaps I missed, that people in this forum were connected with this study, and I hope y’all will forgive me for being frank. I just disagree with the validity of the methods.

To elaborate, the crux of this study, and it’s central claim that “a complex, social behaviour — dance — can be increased in intensity by VLFs without participants’ awareness” centers on that the participants are unaware of the presence of these VLFs. This claim is justified by playing 3.5s of music and asking if there was or wasn’t VLF in the excerpt in which they were correct half the time.

This study claims the VLF are imperceptible but that they have influence which to me has so many implications that are not addressed. To quote the paper:

Post-concert questionnaire data indicated that participants felt bodily sensations associated with bass frequencies during the concert, and that these were pleasurable and contributed to the urge to move (all p < 0.001). However, the bodily sensations were not perceived as stronger than at similar concerts (p = 0.49).

So everybody felt the bass, but they weren’t conscious of it? That to me seems like the biggest leap. The whole, “it has an effect, but they are not aware of it” part. Perhaps in 3.5s it’s hard to tell the difference, but when you are dancing you are tuning in to the sound in a more focused way over time. There is no mention of possible differences in perception in duration of the 55 minute set vs the 3.5s pick one of two options thing. It’s not the same environment.

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It could be as simple as feeding the desk into a hpf then an octave down pedal or into an envelope follower that gates a sub sub oscillator. I can’t imagine the floor tranducers being very hi-fi.

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When I was young I went through a “dark ambient” phase and I remember reading that Brian Williams (Lustmord) used low frequency sound in his recordings intentionally for the effect of creating unease (he also composed excellent film scores for First Reformed, and The Empty Man)

If I remember there is some speculation that low frequency sound could be associated with “haunted” areas (created by aberrations of air pressure) I remember an anecdote about low frequency noise from a fan creating a sympathetic resonance with the liquid in the eye (perhaps creating visual illusions)


I’m curious if these low of frequencies can translate similarly with major vs minor keys to affect the mood created

Retribution Body shook me live.