One of the most common questions I am asked about the MindHarp is in connection to the sounds that are at the core of the MindHarp.
- Where do they come from?
- Are they just any old sounds?
- Is there a process behind the creations of the sounds?
- How is it possible that they all harmonise without creating a massive chaotic dissonance?
Following is an overview
As a musician and composer who has been working professionally in this field for over 40 years I have plenty of experience to pull on, but nonetheless the creation of the MindHarp sounds may well have been my biggest compositional challenge to date.
I had to redefine objectives that are very different from my other compositional endeavours
- Understanding the end ‘user’
- Understanding as much as possible the neuroscience that focuses on dementia and the way music can positively impact on people living with dementia
- Spend an extended period of time with people living with dementia and learn through trial and error, which sounds resonated with them in a positive manner
- Create intriguing, evolving mini compositions that would allow for infinite variations and not just repetitious outcomes that would quickly become boring
- Create sounds with different anticipated outcomes; associative, calming, memory triggering, familiar and much more
- Alway remember that we are dealing with well-being through music
My approach was a combination of a deep dive into healing sounds and vibrations, a lot of neuroscience and 40 years experience as a composer who understands how to ‘push’ people’s musical buttons.
How it comes together
There are three banks of 8 sounds on the MindHarp and every sound (all 24 sounds) can be played at the same time and they will ‘harmonise’ with one and other. (not in a traditional western harmony approach, but rather in an ambient healing sound manner)
Together with this, each bank is designed to impact on a loved one and carer in a different way.
- Bank 1-’Stari’ is a bank that uses familiar western style melodies and rhythmic ideas that engage our life long exposure to the music we have been hearing from within the womb up until today, and triggers memories of songs or events that can be conjured up through musical association.
- Bank 2- ‘Sighs’ is all about voices. My time spent working in a care home for people living with dementia and evolving the sounds quickly led me to understand that voices are a really important sound event for all of us. For some it is about singing in the past in choirs, or social or religious gatherings where singing is a big part of the event. Then of course there is the infant in all of us; The infant who was sung to sleep with lullabies and gentle melodies and humming from our prime care givers and so much more. And finally voice is simply such a primal event for each and everyone of us, it seems to reach down deep into our emotions.
- Bank 3-’Khaju’- This bank for me was a revelation. I wanted to create a bank of sounds that could really trigger associative ideas that were completely random. I was amazed to discover that the more extreme I became with the sounds, the more I distanced myself from what is familiar and known musically, the more positive feedback I got from the residents living with dementia. I created sounds that could be considered nature like by some people and urban by others, but across the board I saw that these sounds really engaged the residents in a lot of chatter as the sounds seem to reflect or trigger something in their emotional memories that led to clear recollections and real memories.
Some general information about MindHarp sounds
All the sounds are created from ‘real’ musical instruments and then I spend many hours evolving and tweaking the sounds through a combination of analogue and digital manipulation.
The sounds are built around vibrational and scaler patterns that are shown to be beneficial for the end user.
Each sound evolves and each evolution of the sound takes the user on a musical journey that is designed to impact deeply on both our physiology and our psychology in a positive manner.
All the sounds and banks are accompanied by therapeutic ‘drones’ designed to create a relaxing safe space for all who engage actively or passively with MindHarp.