Dan Ellsey, a young man with cerebral palsy whose life was transformed when he learned to compose music using Hyperscore, is the subject of a new documentary film, Music is My Voice. Hyperscore was developed by the Opera of the Future group at the M.I.T. Media Lab and featured in this TED Talk by Tod Machover, with a live performance by Dan. The new film, directed by Jesse Roesler, is a semi-finalist in the Focus/Forward contest. Congratulations! Here’s the trailer and a chance to vote!
Tag Archives: music and health
Post by Elly Jessop and Rebecca Kleinberger
As part of the Dalai Lama’s visit to MIT, the Opera of the Future Group performed an experiment in collaboration with the vocal ensemble Blue Heron, Affectiva, Elliott Hedman, and Tenzin Priyadarshi, director of the Dalai Lama Center at MIT. During Blue Heron’s stunning performance of early choral music on Monday, we used Affectiva’s Q Sensors to track and measure the reactions of selected singers and audience members over the course of the concert. The wireless Q Sensors, worn on the wrists or palms, measure the wearer’s skin conductance, which increases during emotional states such as anticipation, excitement, surprise, or anxiety. Through the information provided by these sensors, we can examine the similarities and differences in the affective reactions of various singers and audience members.
Tod and Elliott presented some of the affective stories of a few performers and audience members stories on Tuesday at the beginning of the Dalai Lama’s final talk at MIT. Continue reading
The Dalai Lama visited M.I.T. earlier this week to give a series of talks hosted by the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values. The Opera of the Future group in collaboration with Tenzin Priyadarshi, MIT’s Buddhist Chaplain and Director of the Dalai Lama Center at MIT, and the Blue Heron vocal ensemble, produced a fascinating experiment in the M.I.T. Chapel. Here are a few fun photos providing a glimpse. We’ll be posting more about this later.
The current issue of the Swedish design journal LOFT carries a lavishly illustrated interview with composer Tod Machover. The interview focuses on the creative process and covers a lot of ground, from early childhood experiences with music to the ongoing project to compose a Concerto for Composer and City that calls upon the residents of Toronto to participate actively.
The other thing which I always tell my students, because I have learned this myself from experience, is that a good teacher does not necessarily provide you with a single strategy or approach to solving problems creatively. Probably the best composition teacher I ever had – the one whose thoughts still resonate in my own mind fairly frequently – is the one who had the least methodology or underlying theory to his commentary. In fact, I had to learn how to ask him questions to understand the connecting theories behind his reactions. But he also told me to look with a fresh eye and ear at each new problem, and to have multiple strategies at hand to address any situation that came up. It is this ﬂexibility and repertoire of complementary techniques that allows us to ﬁnd the most fruitful path, to steer around ruts, and to proceed whenever we do get stuck. In this way, each of us needs to develop a very good intuition about what methodology is going to work for you, right now – this year, this week, this day, this hour.
Any guesses as to who that teacher was?
WBUR (90.9FM) launched its “Visionaries” series today with a feature about Tod Machover. The program airs one more time today, at 5:50PM EST, and should be available later on as a podcast. The transcript of the story is available online, together with this new video showing some of the projects at the MIT Media Lab’s Opera of the Future group. Don’t miss the wonderful footage of Dan Ellsey, a 37-year-old man with cerebral palsy, whose inner composer was set free by Hyperscore software. Watch the unfettered joy on his face as he listens to a song he composed.
Listen for Tod Machover on WBUR (90.9FM) series on Boston Visionaries this Tuesday, April 10. The program airs during Morning Edition at 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m., and All Things Considered, at 5:50 p.m. Reporter Bianca Vázquez Toness visited Tod in his 18th-century barn-studio for a wide-ranging conversation, met the chickens, goats and cats, and even asked daughter Noa for funny stories about her dad. We have no idea what will end up in the program!
Click on this link to listen via livestream.
At the MIT Media Lab, Tod Machover and the Opera of the Future team are exploring the frontiers of what Machover calls “personalized opera”, music that is created for each individual and designed to elicit responses specifically tailored to that person’s needs. One person may seek music to calm and focus the mind. Another may desire music to energize and stimulate creativity. Most of us depend on others to create songs that touch our emotions, but suppose you could gain insight into the deep interplay of musical forms and your psyche, and generate your ideal music? We can only begin to imagine how powerful and transformative such music could be.
In the meantime, the music that already exists can work wonders, if it can reach those who need it. The Music and Memory foundation is showing how music, delivered via an iPod loaded with a personalized playlist, can awaken people impaired by severe neurological disorders. Watch this video of “Henry”, a man in the catatonic grip of advanced Alzheimer’s disease. A session of listening to music literally “restores Henry to himself.”
The foundation can’t keep up with requests from nursing homes for iPods for their residents. Please consider donating a new or used iPod. Help people connect to their music, and to their selves.
Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed made the 90-minute drive up to Santa Barbara last week to attend Tod Machover’s talk on ”Music, Mind and Health: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Well-being through Active Sound,” one of four lectures he gave recently at the university’s Sage Center for the Study of the Mind. In today’s issue, Swed reflects on the concept of music as therapy and a future in which each of us could have music that is tailored to our individual psyches. Tod’s new CD “…but not simpler…” gets a nice mention too!
Here’s an excerpt:
“Machover, an intriguing futurologist as well as an inventive composer, runs the departments in hyper-instruments (acoustical instruments given spiffy electronic features) and opera of the future at MIT‘s ultra-high-tech Media Lab…Music, Machover said, touches on just about every aspect of cognition. There are theories that music exists to exercise the mind and to help coordinate its separate functions. Music lovers intuitively know what researchers have verified, that music modulates our moods, helps us move, stimulates our language skills, strengthens our memories and can wondrously bring about emotional responses without their bothersome consequences…
“In an inspiring feedback loop, Machover and his MIT minions, which include some of the nation’s most forward-looking graduate students, are applying their musical gadgets to therapy. The process of making remarkable restorative advances is changing how they think about and make music. And that could affect how the rest of us might think about and make music in the not-so-distant future.”
Read the full article here: Musical therapy is making breakthroughs
Wow, watch this trailer for “Alive Inside”, a documentary currently in production about how music reaches people even at advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Next time you visit someone with Alzheimer’s, bring an iPod loaded with beautiful music.
Here’s a cool article and video from Adam Boulanger’s visit last week to Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, PA. Twenty-one students from the school are being trained to teach Alzheimer’s patients to use a music composition tool. They are part of a collaborative research study with the M.I.T. Media Lab, the Cleveland Clinic and the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute.
Adam, a postdoctoral researcher at the Media Lab, spent the day training students to compose music using Hyperscore. This graphical music composition tool was developed some years ago by Tod Machover’s Opera of the Future research group at the Media Lab, and has been used with great success around the world. Originally designed for children, it has been embraced by adults and has even shown powerful therapeutic benefits in people with physical and psychiatric disabilities (see Tod’s TED Talk).
Early next year, the students will teach 18 volunteer seniors to compose music using Hyperscore as part of a clinical trial.