The History of Tomatis

In the late 1940s, Tomatis was examining workers suffering from occupational deafness.  Tomatis observed that the alterations their ears presented, were always accompanied by a vocal deficiency.  At the same time, he acted as a consultant for many singers suffering from vocal problems.

When he performed audiogram tests on these singers, he noticed that they presented the same as the audiometric profile he obtained from the industrial workers.  This soon came to highlight the fundamental relationship according to which a subject can only reproduce vocally that which he hears with accuracy and precision.

On the strength of these discoveries Tomatis created his first therapeutic device enabling him to permanently restore full vocal qualities to a deficient singer.  This device was at the origin of the establishment of 3 fundamental principles named “the Tomatis laws”.

I. The larynx can only reproduce the harmonics, which the ear hears (the voice only contains                what the ear hears)

II. If, in a damaged ear, we restore the possibility of correctly hearing lost or compromised frequencies, then these frequencies are instantaneously and unconsciously restored in                       vocal emission.

III. When maintained for a certain time, stimulation under the electronic ear permanently  modifies the subjects hearing and therefore his phonation (law of remanence)

The application of these 3 laws has been named “the TOMATIS effect”

Tomatis research led him to take an interest in foreign language learning.  He demonstrated that in linguistic analysis each language is characterized by a particular frequencies zone, called a “Pass Band”.

At the end of the 1950s, Tomatis started considering the relationship between the ear and reading abilities.  In the following years he started to use his technique to help children who were suffering from reading difficulties.

In the early 1960s, another question came to occupy his mind regarding the possible influence of sound on the human being before birth.  It was in this period, marked by the question of the intra uterine experience, when the Tomatis method shifted its focus from audio phonology (where the field of study concerns the ear/voice relationship) to that of “audio psycho phonology”.

Tomatis then started to apply a sound therapy based on filtered sounds.  According to him they reproduce the conditions of life in the womb and enable a person experiencing difficulty on a relational and communication level, to revive emotions and memories concerning the first stages of his development during the intra uterine experience.

Tomatis elaborated a complete sonic journey whose role is to return a person, in a controlled and non-violent way, into the acoustic conditions of their intra uterine experience, then through this sonic journey, to bring about genuine psychological births, which he moreover called “sonic births”.

This sonic journey progressively determines a person’s way of listening, way of speaking and way of reading.  There can be accidents along the way which will entail disorders which are observable at one or other of these stages or at several at a the same time.  The therapeutic method recommended by Tomatis consists of having a person experiencing difficulty in communication; follow an ideal sonic pathway, which for various reasons he or she may have strayed from.