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Brainwave entrainment for Linux

binaural beats, pulse beats, phase beats

Here you will find links to the discord documentation, a brief discussion of how to listen to brainwave entrainment sequences, links to samples of the output from discord you can listen to, links to sites with sound samples that you can use for mixing while using discord, and some links to resources I think might be of interest to users of discord.

If you want to download discord and get started immediately you can do that from the discord project and download page at Sourceforge. Or just click on any of the images if you decide you'd like to try it while reading the website.


What is discord? It is a program that generates beats for brainwave entrainment. It can generate the original binaural beats, and also has four other voices that yield beats.

In case you aren't familiar with binaural beats, they result from different frequencies played in each ear. If the frequencies are close enough together, the brain creates an internal beat frequency equivalent to the difference between them and the brain can entrain to that frequency with its internal brainwaves. There are links to articles on Wikipedia in the resources below that describe the concept in more detail. These are the original brainwave entrainment beats, with a history of over 50 years, and thus could be considered tried and true though they are still somewhat controversial and a subject of ongoing research.

The chronaural and pulse voices generate a spike of sound at a frequency you select. They are similar to the effect of drumming. From prehistoric times until now people have used drumming to enter altered states of consciousness. Now you can too, without all the trouble of physical conditioning and rhythmic ability.

The phase and fm voices create a doppler effect at a frequency you select. They are like the sound you hear when a truck blows its horn as it is coming up behind you. There is a perceived shift in frequency and the brain uses this to determine if something is approaching or leaving. The voices create that doppler shift at a desired frequency as a beat. These beats are very mesmerising. I haven't read of any studies using them. I do note that the latest device from Transparent Corp has these available, or sounds whose description is like them, so I no longer can say I haven't read of anyone else using them. I still think they have to be considered experimental. My own experience still suggests they are very effective.

The beat voices binaural, phase, and fm allow amplitude variations by channel at a beat rate as well (this doesn't make sense for chronaural and pulse voices). And all the beat voices except binaural (where it makes no sense) allow what I call a split beat, a variation of the pan of the beat between the left and right channels at a specified beat frequency.

There are also voices to generate tones/bells, random tone noise, and to allow you to play mixed in audio samples at random times, sample them continuously, repeat them continuously, or play them only once.

Randomness can be selected in many places, in keeping with my philosophy that entraining to many different frequencies is beneficial and so that any accompaniment isn't repetitive with multiple listenings because it varies every time you play it.

All of the options and adjustability mean that creating a script file can be complicated. That is why the many samples are there, to serve as examples and templates for you to work with in creating your own scripts.

Some Minor Flies in the Ointment

And now, some uncomfortable truths. Yes, just like roses have thorns, there are some issues with discord.

First, if you are not running linux, then discord will not work for you.

At that point, you have some options.

If you want a prepackaged solution, discord is probably not for you. There are many places to buy prepackaged binaural beats on the web in CD form. They range in price from a few dollars a CD to hundreds of dollars a CD. I list a few below and you can easily find such commercial solutions by doing a search on "binaural beat CD" or some such thing. Some providers have been in business for years, and the product they are selling seems to work. At least they have lots of positive testimonials and they have continued in business for a long period of time. What you won't get with this solution is the ability to vary the program, to try different things. Once you buy the CD, it is the same every time. And the progression of CDs is fixed. With discord or another beat generator, while it is easy to listen to one of the included script files and never change if you so choose, you are in control of the program you use. It is designed to be powerful and flexible for this reason. You will have to invest time in learning how to use it and understanding what you are doing. Once you do that, you can vary the beats and the background every play. Tired of the same old sound, make it new! Your imagination is the limit. And you can create your own CDs as good as or better than the commercial products. One of the design criteria for discord is that the sound be very precise, and it is.

Don't expect to instantaneously reach amazing states of awareness unless you have used brainwave entrainment before or you are an experienced meditator. Just like anything else you've done in life, there is a learning curve. Your brain needs experience before it can entrain well. You wouldn't expect your brain to pick up another language instantly, so you shouldn't expect it to pick up binaural beats without practice either.

It is command line only. You have to run it in either a console or terminal emulator in X. I've thought about putting a gui on it, but haven't been able to justify the roi. Lots of work for very little return from my point of view. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from doing that. I develop discord for my own use, and put it out here as a public service for anyone who is interested in brainwave entrainment. The beats are the thing for me, and as long as discord works properly to generate them that's enough from my perspective.

If you are still here, please read the DISCLAIMER, which basically tells you that you are using this at your own risk and what risks there might be.


As far as how to actually use the program discord, that is on a separate page. You can use discord documentation in html format or discord documentation in text format There is a little question and answer or FAQ there as well.

How to Listen

In my opinion, anyone can entrain their brain; it is a function of the way the brain works. So, if you try it and it doesn't work for you that doesn't mean that you can't entrain, just that you are doing something that isn't allowing your brain to entrain.

Entrainment isn't something that you do mentally, the way you add some numbers or plan a vacation. That is, it isn't a thought process, it's more of a feeling. What you are trying to do here is let go of the conscious control of your mind so it can flow with the beats. An analogy can be made to swimming in a river. Imagine it is summer and you are swimming in a gently flowing river. You stop and grab a branch hanging over the water. The current tries to sweep you along but can't because you are hanging on to the branch. If you let go of the branch, you will go with the flow of the river at the speed it is going, a gentle ride. Entraining is letting your brain, by itself, adopt the same brainwave frequency as the beats you are listening to. This won't happen if you are using the brain to think because then you are creating brainwaves (clinging to the branch) and the entrainment has to fight against them. You can still watch your thoughts go by while enjoying the gentle ride, you just don't direct which thoughts those are, or get caught up in associations.

The mood you want is best described as drifting, not focusing or concentrating. Be in a relaxed state when you do this, not tense and not in a hurry and not anticipating. An easy chair is great. Can you remember the feeling that happens just before you fall asleep? Try for that. You might even fall asleep while listening. That isn't surprising as many of the frequencies that brainwave entrainment entrains your brain to are only normally experienced in sleep. You will still garner benefits.

If you find yourself thinking and unable to just observe, focus on the beats. The binaural beat can be heard by lifting the cups of your headphones one at a time and listening for the difference in the sound between when one is raised and both are down. It should be a *sound* in the middle of your head. The other beats are externally created and so are obvious if you listen for them.

Don't give up too soon if it seems like nothing is happening. It might take time for your brain to become accustomed to entraining.

If you do all of the above and it still isn't working, then try the following suggestions.

Remember that these suggestions are just my opinions. If you do completely contrary things and it works for you, keep doing what you are doing. Your experience is more valid than my opinions. Well, at least for you.

Brainwave Samples

Here are some samples of output from discord. Those from this site should play immediately. Those at freesound will require that you have flash installed and javascript enabled. And be aware that they are streamed in lossy format so they will not be as pristine as if you were listening to them directly. In order to hear them as they were recorded you have to download the original files, which requires that you be a member of freesound. Becoming a member is a free and relatively simple process.

Listening to the output convinced you that you now want to try discord? You can do that from the discord project and download page at Sourceforge.

Sites for Mixing Sound Samples

Some people find that listening to bare brainwave entrainment sequences is uncomfortable and boring. Here are a couple of sites that have sounds that can be used with discord to mask the beats, if you choose to do so.


There are more than 110,000 sound samples on freesound licensed under creative commons, so you should be able to find something suitable for your use with discord. As mentioned above, you have to be a member in order to download any sound samples, and becoming a member is free and relatively simple.

Silver Sky Imports

This is a commercial site that sells tibetan singing bowls. You can listen to and capture the sound of bowls on this site. They are not complete, but do provide excellent samples. They should also only be used for personal use. There are some wonderful bowls here; who knows, you might want to purchase one of them.

Auxilliary Useful Sites

Audacity is a great tool for converting between sound formats. You can also use it to clean and modify sound samples before you use them. If you want to use an mp3 sample, you can use audacity to convert it to flac or wav or ogg so discord can read the file.

PlanetCCRMA is a wonderful resource for anyone working with sound on linux, but particularly for Fedora.

Sox is a command line sound conversion and massaging tool for linux. It too can convert from mp3 or ogg to wav or flac if compiled with the proper libraries.

The Wikipedia article on binaural beats gives a good general overview of the topic. This review of the literature on brainwave entrainment is at the bottom of the wikipedia page so I thought I would include it explicitly as it has some worthwhile information. Another link at wikipedia is this one about brainwave synchronization. These links just touch the surface, as there is a lot to explore from Wikipedia.

Clean Language is a therapeutic approach based around questioning which attempts to remove unwitting and unintended influence by the questioner. The idea is to use the symbolism that comes out of the subconscious for communication with and exploration of the subconscious.

5-path is a hypno-therapeutic system based on investigating early subconscious influences that lead to emotional trauma.

Omni Hypnosis Center of Gerald Kein has hypnosis training videos for sale. Gerald Kein seems to be a down-to-earth kind of guy and it is pretty clear that he takes an ethical approach to hypnosis and therapy. If you are interested in hypnosis, of course, no investigation would be complete without an awareness of Milton Erickson. But his work and life predates the web. A search will turn up many other hypnosis resources.

The Sedona Method was originally developed by Lester Levenson. He died in 1993 and there are two main successors, Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin and Sedona Method by Larry Crane. I like the original materials by Lester Levenson better than the second generation materials.

Richard Bandler's NLP site and NLP comprehensive's site are two NLP sites, one by a co-founder of NLP and the other by some of the early students. A quick search turned up this resource site , a somewhat dated listing of NLP resources. Any search you do will be overwhelming in the amount of results as this is a very popular technique. You can get your feet wet with some of the early books: Frogs into Princes, Reframing and the Transformation of Meaning, Tranceformations, Change your Mind and Keep the Change, etc. It seems that Richard Bandler has also noted the effectiveness of brainwave entrainment and is also offering his solution in this space.

Core Transformation is a therapeutic and self development approach based around questioning which digs deeper and deeper into subconscious motivations.

The Work of Byron Katie is another therapeutic and self development approach based around questioning which digs deeper and deeper into subconscious motivations and limitations. The site has many free resources to help you understand both what The Work is and if it is an approach that appeals to you. I have a wxPython app called Do The Work here on Sourceforge that is an aide for The Work.

Gary Craig, the founder of EFT has retired. He has passed much of his website material on to I have a wxPython app called Tap Your Power here on Sourceforge that is an aide for EFT.

The EFT masters website is another site worth looking at. These are people certified by Gary before he ended the Masters program, and include some of the earliest and most skilled of his students / early adopters. Articles, free techniques, training materials. A search for EFT will turn up many more resources, since it is now being used by hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people around the world.

The nei yeh is a poem from early China (4th century BCE) with strong echoes of both taoism and buddhism and gentler echoes of yoga and tantra and mysticism. This is the original Chinese with the ability to translate each character literally if you are interested in such things by clicking on the >>. It certainly gives an appreciation for the skill required to translate a tract of subtle meaning such as this one.

Holosync / Centerpointe is one of the heavyweights in the prepackaged brainwave entrainment marketplace. If you search the web diligently enough you should be able to find reverse engineered specifications of these. People have used Fourier analysis to isolate the carrier frequencies and beat frequencies and posted them. Is that the sum total of their offering? Only Centerpointe knows.

Hemisync / Monroe Institute is the other heavyweight in the prepackaged brainwave entrainment marketplace. If you search the web diligently enough you should be able to find reverse engineered specifications of these. People have used Fourier analysis to isolate the carrier frequencies and beat frequencies and posted them. Is that the sum total of their offering? Only the Monroe Institute knows.

Kelly Howell brainsync is a lesser known in the prepackaged brainwave entrainment marketplace, listed here because I have read some positive reviews of her material. As I said above, a search will turn up many others providing brainwave entrainment CDs.

Some interesting articles on brainwaves from the scientific literature and related to applications. This is sponsored by Transparent Corporation, a major player in the marketplace providing tools for self exploration of brainwave entrainment.

Questions and Feedback

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