You’ve known forever that music makes your heart go pitty pat, right? Did you know it makes your brain do the same? It’s true. When we hear music with a great beat it’s all but impossible to keep from toe-tapping, finger-rapping, gum-snapping in time to the beat. The thing is, the brain likes to try to copy the rhythms that it hears. People have understood for millennia that music provides a way to manipulate your brain into different states of consciousness.

The problem is, the beats we use in even the coolest music aren’t at the right frequencies. The brain has its own natural rhythm, which can be seen in the brainwaves it emits naturally — those are the signals an EEG machine detects and records. When your brain changes mood, what really changes are the combinations of rhythms of the brainwaves it emits.  For example if you’re asleep — you do sleep, right? — the brain’s frequency is a lot slower than when you’re, say, playing some one-on-one on the basketball court.

If you could change your brain’s rhythm on command, you could actually push your brain to enter any specific state you want, from sleep, to deep meditation, to intense focus and concentration, to wide awake and alert. And you know what? A certain type of music can help you do exactly that. Suppose you’re getting down to writing a new article or say even starting on a new book. The thing is, that’s the kind of task that needs focus and concentration, right? Scientists have figured out what combination of frequencies corresponds to that state of intense concentration — and it’s never just one beat, but a combination of many frequencies. In any event, there are now CDs you can buy that have these special frequencies laid down as tracks underlying music.

There is a problem, however. Almost all the useful brainwave frequencies — the ones that put you into interesting states of mind — are below the level of human hearing. So you can’t just listen to a music track with “brain beats” on it and accomplish anything. But fear not…there’s an app — or at least a fix — for that.

You have to listen to these special brain music CDs (or MP3s) in stereo, preferably over headphones or with ear buds, like on your iPod.  If you can’t arrange that — or if you want all family members to listen in — at least arrange it so everyone is sitting between the speakers, so they hear the music in true stereo, with the left speaker distinctly separate from the right. The music has slightly different brain tracks for the left ear and the right ear. Say, for example, that it’s intended to induce a 6 beat-per-second rhythm (that’s a frequency the brain emits strongly when you’re meditating), way below what people can hear.  But by putting in, say a 100 beat-per-second signal in one ear, and a 106 beat-per-second signal in the other ear, what the brain perceives isn’t 100 or 106 — it interprets those two inputs as the beat frequency… the difference between them, or 6 beats per second. Thus, the brain gets tricked into hearing a sound that doesn’t actually exist on the recording.

The brain frequencies are also generally embedded into a little bit of white noise, so these brain music tracks, if you analyze them closely, look like they have a slight hiss (though only real music perfectionists will notice that). If you take the “noise” out, you’re also dumping the brain signals, so don’t do that — and don’t use noise cancelling headphones either!  The other thing to know is that it doesn’t matter what kind of music you put these brain signals on. Any music will do, though it’s probably not real smart to put a heavy metal track with a set of signals designed to put you to sleep.

I know of two good sources for this kind of CD. Several dozen titles of varying types of music are available from Monroe Products — look for their “MetaMusic” titles. Be sure the description of what you want to do matches their description of the signals on the album so you’re not buying a CD designed to help you sleep when you want to write. While these list for $20 each CD, if you check on eBay or other online sources you can find them for a lot less. The other really good set of brain CDs are ones from Jeffrey Thompson. He has various sets out; look for ones on creativity or clarity and focus. The “Awakened Mind System 2.0” for example, retails new for only $11 from Amazon and you can again find it for less

While the music on any of these brain-CDs won’t exactly blow you away, you’ll be astounded at what a difference they make in your ability to concentrate on what you’re doing.  Whether you want to concentrate, meditate, or simply relax, these albums can help you get to whatever brain state you want.

Maureen is a skilled freelance writer working for a professional writing and research agency When she’s not busy helping people edit and revise their writing pieces, she spends her time joining a team of top article writers in pursue of completing original and interesting articles on virtually any topic.