Series: Enquiries

Ideas explored: music for health and wellbeing

Participants: Esther Jones, Seb Crutch

In April 2019 Esther Jones, Deputy Music Director of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Professor Seb Crutch and Elia Benhamou of UCL led a weekend residency at Snape investigating what happens when we sing together.

EEG technology (to record brain activity) and Empatica devices (which measure arousal levels using heart rates and skin conductivity) were used to gather data from a group of singers from the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, as they recorded original musical works commissioned by Created Out of Mind, a previous Wellcome-funded project designed to increase understanding of dementia through science and the creative arts. You can hear some of this music here.

Self-evaluations from the singers were compared to data gathered during their performances, and initial analysis shows that there are statistically significant results. Further acoustic analysis will be made in order to compare significant moments with the Empatica, EEG data and the singers’ own verbal responses. The aim is to produce an academic paper summarising key findings from the experiments undertaken during the residency. It is hoped that this will form the basis of applications for funding for a wider study applying some of these techniques to clinical groups for comparison, e.g. singing groups for those with dementia, cancer, mental health issues etc.

Residency team:

  • Esther Jones (Project Director)
  • Seb Crutch & Elia Benhamou (researchers/EEG & Empatica equipment)
  • Jakes Slimings (audio for experiment/researcher)
  • Ben Parry (producer for audio recording)
  • Dave Rowells (engineer for audio recording)
  • Singers: Imogen Creedy, Ailsa Campbell, Emma Jones, Clare Sutherland, Michael Hillesdon, Scott Harvey, Sam Gilliatt, George Cook