D Scott Rogo is probably best known now for his parapsychological work investigating Out of Body Experiences (OOBE) and for his work with Ann Druffle on several noted UFO abduction/contact cases.
I was unaware that he had also extensively researched the phenomena of unexplained music and other unusual audio perceptions that have been reported in connection with various paranormal/parapsychological experiences.
Rogo was a trained musician and this topic was the very first parapsychological/paranormal topic that he studied, resulting in his first book NAD: A Study of Unusual Other-World Experience which he published at 19.
At this early age, Rogo had amassed a multitude of cross-cultural material reports of unusual audio occurrences, many of which were perceived by multiple witnesses in diverse circumstances and which span many centuries.
This early text is the basis for the two volume Paranormal Music Experiences which I consulted for this blog.
These kinds of experiences are of special interest to me because I’ve had many of them, both by myself and with others (or at least other beings, such as cats). I rarely “see” things, per se, but have often “heard” things, including music, voices, and audio “apports” (something I used to talk to Eugenia Macer-Story about).
Rogo is mainly interested in the more musical phenomena that he refers to as NAD, a term from the Sanskrit that can be translated as “cosmic music/flow or channel” and is referenced in classical Indian yoga texts as being associated with the exalted states that yogis might achieve.
BTW, NAD is not an acronym but an actual word that Rogo capitalizes in this way in order to emphasize it.
He is not referring to some of the more unusual sounds that have been reported more recently such as the mysterious trumpets, humming or booming noises that Linda Moulton Howe has been following, or the bizarre cries and screams associated most frequently with cryptids like Sasquatch, although both these categories of sound are quite interesting in their own right for different reasons.
Scott is also not referring to other sounds that may accompany parapsychological/paranormal experiences/events, say the odd rustling or mechanical/electronic sounds that occasionally are associated with hauntings or UFO reports.
He mentions, but doesn’t focus much on sounds that may accompany dreams, for obvious reasons of subjectivity I suppose.
Rather, Rogo focuses on NAD that seem to accompany Near Death states (NDE), hauntings, OOBE and mystical or visionary experiences, although some of his examples do seem to transcend these categories.
His collection demonstrates that unusual musical or auditory experiences are universal in the sense that every culture and people report them, although context will temper who hears what and in what circumstances.
Volume 1 and 2 of Paranormal Music Experiences break down the casework in the following manner:
Volume 1, A Casebook of Otherworldly Music attempts to categorize the different kinds of musical/auditory phenomena by its seeming concurrence with other phenomena, such as death (or near-death), hauntings, OOB experiences, encountering mediums or having mystical awakenings, and various other contexts.
Volume 2, A Psychic Study of the Music of the Spheres, takes these general categories and attempts to find commonalities which could result in what Rogo hopes might be a general explanation for the experiences.
In Volume 2, Scott collates his accounts and subjects the data to statistical analysis. He attempts to distinguish between parapsychological NAD and mystical NAD. From his perspective, the former would be more objective and less subject to specific states of consciousness, although, I’m not sure that some of the distinctions he tries to draw here would hold water now.
In addition to correlating NAD with specific experiences, as mentioned above, such as NDE, OOBE and hauntings, Scott examines his casefiles for the following: type of music (choral or instrumental), duration, volume, 'discernability' (whether there seemed to be a definite melody and/or specific form of instrumentation or arrangement) and finally, the effect of the music on the listener.
Using these criteria, Scott can conclude that the largest percentage of cases, at least in his database, involve musical sounds, that seem to be mostly of a mixed choral nature, which start quietly, then crescendo in effect, and fade quickly out, although in some instances the crescendo-fade may seem to pulse.
For the most part, percipients are surprised and pleased by the music, which contains elements both familiar and quite distinct to the listener.
Most of the listeners report experiencing feelings of bliss, ecstasy, peace or contentment when hearing NAD. None were frightened by the experience.
Scott also discovered that the mystical experiences of NAD and the parapsychological experiences of NAD were more similar that different, except that the former often lasted longer than the latter, and in some individuals, there was more evidence of control in the experience.
For the parapsychological experiencers of NAD, there was more of a sense of wonderment and the unexpected. Although mystics and visionaries enjoyed their NAD, they also were often more familiar with it, or at least with accounts of the experience, so although they still experienced the awe and bliss of otherworldly music, they had a frame of reference.
I was not entirely convinced by Rogo’s preferred explanation, i.e., that parapsychological sounds are a result of an external correspondence between something here on this side of the veil and something on the etheric plane—that causes a ‘rebound’ in energy, almost like a skin of a drum, or the tympanic membrane in the ear.
He seemed to be only really interested in explaining the audio experiences of individuals close to death or having OOBE, and as he admits, one has to believe in the etheric plane anyway for this theory to make sense.
I’ll confess that I’m not really interested in explanations for all NAD, because some audio music/sounds may be entirely subjective (only heard by the person), and yet remain completely meaningful.
Spiritual traditions such as Sufism and Raja Yoga maintain that internal sounds are just as important as anything that might be experienced externally because both insist that the external/internal division really doesn’t exist.
I don’t necessarily believe that all the things I’ve heard have been objective sounds—in the sense that others would have perceived the same thing, or anything at all.
However, I was fascinated by all the examples he was able to collect and I’ll give a couple of examples below.
Ross L. Bralley (Ozark, Missouri) personal communication with the author
“Years ago, around 1930 I was doing some door-to-door work for a small publishing concern and I was in a small town either in Oklahoma or Kansas and it was necessary to walk across a cemetery or go a block around to some steps. My mind was not on anything unusual, when suddenly as I was crossing the cemetery I both seemed to hear and feel the most beautiful singing. It seemed to be a choir or an audience singing songs of praise such as church audiences do. However, I did not recognize any earthly song I had ever heard. It was of a nature I find hard to describe. It was beautiful, no false strains or chords, blending perfectly in harmony with a perfect ethereal tone I had never heard before….It seemed rather distant yet near. I felt it and I heard it. I stopped and listened for a time. I walked slowly out of the cemetery and it seemed to fade and disappear. There were no earthly tunes I could recognize. They were more beautiful and perfect than any I had ever heard before.
Connected to the death of a beloved relative Miss E. Rinkowski (Brooklyn, NY)
“About three years ago my Aunt Selma passed on. She had been ill for some time with terminal cancer. Since we were all very close to her, especially me, for I was her favorite niece and she my favorite aunt, she came to live with us for some time after the doctors let her come out of the hospital. She had wanted to spend her remaining time with relations she loved. The few months she had left flew by quickly as we all tried to bring into her life some remaining happiness.
One day, in early September, I felt acutely sad. Some part of me must have known that Selma would not be with us very much longer. As I brought her lunch up the stairs I felt suddenly a rush of very warm air—the type you feel in the nice days of early spring. As I stood on the landing, just a few feet from her door, I was startled to hear faint strains of beautiful music that came from her room and dwelt lightly in the hall where I was. I opened the door, and I was sure then, as I am now, that Selma was seeing something I could not, even though I did hear the music. As I stood—even more spellbound than anything else—Selma turned her head in my direction and smiled the most peaceful and happy smile I have ever saw. Her head fell lightly back on the pillow and I knew that she was gone.”
As mentioned above, I’ve had many interesting audio experiences, some of which I may share another time. For the purposes of this entry, I can say that I’ve had the definite NAD experience, as Rogo defines and describes it, twice that I can easily recall.
The first occurred back in 2000 only days after I’d found my partner dead of a stroke. That same week, the Sufi community in Kansas City was celebrating Rumi’s Urs. In Sufi traditions, the anniversary of someone’s death, what in the Jewish tradition is called the yahrzeit of a person, is celebrated as their return to the Source of all Being, their Urs.
Many Sufi communities celebrate the Urs of Rumi, who died on December 17, 1273 by the Western calendar. The Kansas City community has long held dances, whirling, sema, dhikr and meditation practices on a weekend close to that date as a commemoration of Rumi’s life and influence.
I attended all events that year because I was bereft and really messed up. During the extended sema on the last evening, while doing dhikr, I suddenly heard a range of singing that I’d never heard before.
We were doing these practices at an old style wooden Episcopal Church and I thought that perhaps members of the church choir had joined us—occasionally members of the congregation would participate with our devotions.
I looked up to where the choir seats were located and no one was there. All of a sudden, it was like the ceiling lifted up and I could distinctly hear other voices singing above and beyond our own with harmonies and descants that we didn’t use.
This was not an echo because the pitches were both higher and lower than our voices could probably physically achieve.
It sounds very bizarre, but it was as if the heavens had opened and the voices of creation were singing with us, supporting everything we were doing. I was seized with this intense desire and energy to begin whirling myself—which is not something I do because I normally will fall down and possibly throw up.
I started to whirl, first to the left and then to the right. Whirling is normally something that one has to develop, to build up the stamina towards because it changes the circulation of the cerebral-spinal fluid, affects the middle ear. Whirling without knowing how to do it can make one really sick.
Somehow, I whirled, for the first and only time of my life, for almost 30 minutes. I was in a state of ecstasy I’ve never experienced before. It also gave me a headache afterwards and I couldn’t sleep very well for about three days—because every time I closed my eyes, I could hear the music and see the light it came from.
I’m willing to accept that my openness to this experience at this time was due to my grief and trauma. At the same time, my experience is referenced fairly regularly in Sufi literature, so it’s not that unusual in that regard. I do know that it changed me and helped me get through that difficult time in my life.
My other distinct experience of NAD occurred in the late spring of 2013 three years after I’ve moved to the mid-Hudson Valley. A series of thunderstorms had moved through earlier in the evening and there was just a bit of wind and scattered showers remaining.
It was about 930p, not long after full dusk. I was sitting up in bed, with the window open letting the fresh rain-washed air blow into my room because it had gotten quite warm that day. I could hear frogs outside and the beginning of spring insects, so just wanted to listen and relax.
The music began faintly and at first, I thought that neighbors down the way or behind us were playing music outside. It sounded sort of like “pipes and flutes” (although I know that’s going to evoke images of either Lovecraft or fairy-lore depending on one’s predilections). Seriously, that’s exactly what it sounded like.
For a bit I dismissed it, but then the sounds began to get a little louder and I realized I the melodies were nothing I could recognize. The sounds almost had a call and response pattern. They would crescendo quickly and die down, almost as if in pulses or waves. They were very pleasant, though also a little creepy.
The music got so loud that I finally went outside and walked around the house trying to figure out where the sounds were coming up. At last, I realized that they were coming from above, or all around. So, I just stood out in the backyard and listened to this enticing, beguiling music.
Interestingly, no one else seemed to be outside listening. No neighbors came out, no cars passed, and in fact, the entire neighborhood seemed to go quite still, even the frogs stopped when the music was at its loudest.
Eventually, the music seemed to dissipate as if it was traveling away to its next location. I went back inside, a little creeped out, but fascinated.
Over the next week I did a little discreet investigation and asked a few of my neighbors, as I ran into them, whether they’d heard anything themselves that night.
I was surprised to discover that two neighbors had “heard something musical” but had chosen not to investigate because they were involved with other things at the time and assumed they were hearing something from down the street—just like I had initially.
I didn’t elucidate further on what I’d heard with them—but was relieved that others had heard something.
It is possible that I was hearing some kind of phenomenon connected to the weather, although I’ve been through many thunderstorms and have never heard anything remotely like what I heard that night. So, we’ll have to leave it at that.
D Scott Rogo’s investigation into paranormal music is interesting primarily due to the vastly different examples he’s collected into one place. The experience of NAD is attested widely in religious and mystical literature, but has rarely been examined at all, at least to my knowledge, probably because most skeptics would argue that there’s no way to objectively quantify it, or remove it from the possible realm of imagination.
That being said, the universality of the experience can also speak to the importance of music and sound generally as a conveyor of meaning and significance.
I know many people, including myself, who have had the experience of hearing/ascertaining beautiful music while dreaming and being bitterly disappointed when the music fades upon awakening.
At the very least, these experiences may point to a level of creative endeavor that many individuals latently possess, or a pre-verbal form of communication with deeper/higher levels of consciousness.
Even Nietzsche, the arch atheist declared that the “conclusion of a melody is not the point of a song, but without its conclusion, neither is the point of the melody achieved either.” He referred to that fact as a “parable” about music. He also admitted that music alone brought him to the point where he could believe there might be something greater than himself.
In an earlier blog I mentioned I would talk a little bit more about Rogo’s life and contributions to paranormal studies. He wrote about 30 books on parapsychological topics and contributed to many more. Only about a dozen remain in print or available.
D Scott Rogo was openly gay among individuals who knew him and at the time of his death had been involved with studying how various spiritual practices might help people who were suffering from AIDS. He was apparently preparing a book on the topic.
This may have been one of the reasons why Ann Druffle asked him to sit in on the Tujunga Canyon investigations as the subjects of that study were self-identified lesbians/bisexuals.
Rogo’s last public service was his regular time volunteering on the community AIDs hotline. He was last seen alive by a neighbor on the evening of August 14, 1990 after coming home from his volunteer work.
At some point, between August 14 -15, 1990 Rogo was stabbed to death in his home by an unknown assailant. His body was found during a welfare check on August 16, 1990.
At first robbery appeared to possibly be the motive, but there are obvious questions about his murder that will probably forever remain unanswered.
An early suspect, Juan Battista, who was an acquaintance of Rogo’s and who seemed to have a possibly shady background was initially charged in with the crime, went to trial twice due to procedural difficulties, was convicted and then exonerated by the judge because bloody fingerprints at the crime scene did not match his own.
Rogo’s murder is unsolved and the case is still open.
Rogo’s life ended far too soon. There is no way of knowing how he might have contributed to paranormal and parapsychological research had he not been killed.
I found D Scott Rogo’s work on Paranormal Music Experiences to be fascinating and worthy of further examination, with his examples as a guide.
This link provides additional biographical information about D Scott Rogo plus a YouTube recording of an interview he did with a skeptic back in the late 1980’s.
Additional biographical material can be found at the webpage extempore.com, however, caution must be taken with this link as one of the banner adverts has been corrupted with malware, so it will set firewall off. That’s why I won’t provide the link here.
This is unfortunate as the article itself has good information in it—just don’t search for it without your computer defenses intact.