“Illness is always a misalignment of that which is harmonious in us”
Interview with music therapist and luthier Joel Olivé on the occasion of the online course ‘Introduction to Psychedelic Music Therapy’, by BMed Global, and the classroom course of the same name, taught by Joel himself, psychiatrist Peter Hess, pioneer of Gong therapy, and his wife Heike Hess.

Joel Olivé’s path towards music therapy has been a journey back in time, from electronic music to archaic instruments, which he makes with his own hands. “The archaic instruments affect a more irrational part of the being”, Olivé tells us in this interview on the occasion of the online course ‘Introduction to Psychedelic Music Therapy’, by BMed Global, the training branch of BMed, which will culminate with intensive retreat with psychiatrist Peter Hess, pioneer of Gong therapy, and his wife Heike Hess, next March in Catalonia.

Here you can watch and listen to the full interview:

“Music” and “therapy”, two words that, when joined together, create “music therapy”. Tell us why music is therapeutic.

Therapy is a process of self-knowledge and growth, whether with one tool or the other. Music gives us a very great transforming capacity for many kinds of pathologies. In today’s society stress, anxiety and depression are pathologies that many people have to deal with on a daily basis. We are very loaded with things, with information and sometimes we need to reset, connect with the natural, return to our essence. This is one of the most powerful aspects that music offers us as a tool and that is where its greatest transformative power lies. The ancestral instruments have, from my point of view, a deeper aspect than other instruments that do not belong to this essential force so powerful and so natural. The archaic instruments affect a more irrational part of the being. There we seek to touch the core in depth, getting closer to the essence of the person. It is a journey of regression in which we can review our biographical existence through active listening.

The online course is a preamble to the climax, a residential meeting with your teacher, Peter Hess, next March.

Yes, the doctor of psychiatry Peter Hess and his wife Heike Hess will come to the residential course starting on March 29. This online course is a preamble to be able to prepare ourselves and access this experiential workshop, more extended with the expanded states of consciousness and music.

The term is new, but everything indicates that the therapeutic use of music has been with us for millennia.

The movement of the grandparents, playing the drum, is one of the most ancestral aspects of music therapy, as can be seen in caves where drawings have been found representing music therapy sessions, where there are clearly people lying on the ground, and other people guiding a sonorous journey with rattles or drums.
Añadido: Pathologies? Very many. What I work with most is anxiety problems and burn out, stress… practically everyone needs to reconnect with the natural part of who we are. Illness is always a misalignment of that which is harmonious and natural, which belongs to our essence. To heal people with sound is to bring them to homeostasis, where the inner balance itself regenerates the person in its multiple dimensions. I also work with bipolarity and addictions. For example, the percussion circle is widely known for its therapeutic capabilities in impulse control, in creating group structures, both for a company and for a detoxification clinic. Moreover, music therapy has no contraindications, unlike drugs.

Music therapy is also effective for insomnia problems.

That’s right, difficulty sleeping, not having a deep and continuous sleep at night. Over the years I have been able to experiment with a lot of cases. For this pathology, we have an instrument – the monochord – it is so powerful because, literally, you tune a monochord well, and you can all the harmony of the frequencies that resonate by sympathy and all the harmonics are constantly being absorbed by the body. In fact, this instrument was invented by Pythagoras as a study of harmonics, but it evolved very specially from the 80’s, when they started to ban the use of psychedelics in therapy -and Peter is one of the responsible ones in this sense-, because they needed to create tools that were not illegal to get the same effects of LSD or MDMA.

Simultaneously, by the way, with Stan Grof’s recovery of holotropic breathing…

Stan Grof, Hess’s fellow practitioner, was in the same predicament: not being able to have such powerful tools and needing to create other transformative rituals to reach those same states. Grof created holotropic breathing, which is an adaptation of ancient techniques. Another access to modified altered states of consciousness are the Sufi dances, in which the gyrovagos can spend one or two days spinning around until they fall into a trance… Music is present in all the rituals of the world. Whenever there is a ritual, there is a gong or a bell marking the tempo.

In the case of Amazonian shamanism, the ‘ikaro’ brings the healing energy of the plant, as much or more than the substance itself, ayahuasca, according to the masters.

Totally: the substance can open a space, but the music is the navigation map? I have also studied Indian classical music for several years. In fact, my interest began with digyeridu, but the quality of Indian classical music has always captivated me; I have studied tabla, singing…. From another perspective, it’s the same philosophy: the well-done performance of a Raga is a shamanic and transformative act. There are aspects that are transcultural, transversal. We are going to work on all these aspects so that everyone can access without the need to play an instrument or sing to understand the essence of how to use sounds from a musical form to create a sonorous journey. For example, during the course we will study ‘nada yoga’, the yoga of music, which incorporates powerful and transformative techniques. You don’t have to be from India, Peru or Brazil for it to work: whether you are an Eskimo or a Pygmy it will work. That is the magic of the work that I have met with Peter Hess, which is totally transversal, which goes to the root of the perinatal matrices, as described by Grof and, from there, to interpret with sounds the sonorous archetype of each perinatal matrix. To experience this transformation through the sound journey, either with plants or without plants.

What are sound archetypes?

To put it very simply, it means that the essence of an instrument and what it symbolizes has a specific effect that is part of one of the perinatal matrices. In his clinical work, Peter Hess found that the monochord occupies this amniotic universe that is rooted with the energy of the ‘tampura’, which brings the divine to the earth; the percussion, which is this structure that can guide us on the journey…. each instrument has its own connotations, which are not subjective but objective. Obviously, to get that effect you have to know the technique. The ‘didgeridoo’ provokes more struggle, more resistance… it is this point of not fitting in and needing expulsion. The gong itself is death and rebirth. When you listen to the gong you can physically feel as if you are passing through the birth canal.
With these powerful instruments we can catapult a person into a deep trance and take hours to return. We have to be aware of the power it has when we are going to use it in that sense.

Is it a requirement to be a musician or play an instrument to access the course? Who is it for?

We are all musical beings. I love to empower people to pick up an instrument, listen to their heart and start beating with the music they have inside. Everyone can get close to playing a monochord. At some point in your life have you been able to feel the power of music and how listening to those sound waves is transforming your whole being? Well once this is already inside is to take the path and go ahead, take some tools or start with your own voice and feel the sound and bring it out… for everyone is accessible, this is the grace of music. Playing a shamanic drum, a monochord, a rattle… you don’t have to study music to do this. Are you going to feel like a musician? Sure: we are the music we make. It is in our hands with super basic and simple tools to be able to get closer to our heart and to the heart of people, music is drastically binding.

The online course ‘Introduction to Psychedelic Music Therapy’ is composed of six meetings of 2 hours, between February 2 and April 2, 2023. For the program and more information, visit the course website, write to or send a WhatsApp to +34 658 46 47 08.

The intensive retreat ‘Introduction to Psychedelic Music Therapy’ will be taught by Peter and Heike Hess and Joel Olivé between March 29 and April 2, 2023. This course is aimed at those who have participated in the online course. For the program and more information, visit the course website, write to or send a WhatsApp to +34 658 46 47 08.

Our partners
Beckley Med’s training offer articulated courses from three of the world’s leading institutions in psychedelic therapy

Think Tank founded in Great Britain in 1998 by Amanda Feilding, a pioneer in psychedelic research in the field of mental health and on Drug Policy reform.

The world’s leading psychedelic research organisation. Rick Doblin’s MAPS is a global leader in training programmes for psychedelic therapists.

The figure of Stan Grof in the history of psychedelics has reached legendary status. His legacy takes the form of a comprehensive psychedelic psychotherapy training programme.

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