Designing sound for health and wellbeing

Brown, D 2012, Designing sound for health and wellbeing, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Art, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Designing sound for health and wellbeing
Author(s) Brown, D
Year 2012
Abstract Designing Sound for Health and Wellbeing is a three phase research project designed to firstly ascertain Emergency Department patients’ preferences for a range of purposely composed electroacoustic and soundscape compositions and secondly, to determine whether subsequent compositions developed from these preferred electroacoustic and soundscape components have the ability to effectively reduce emergency patient levels of stress and anxiety.

I was recruited for Designing Sound for Health and Wellbeing as a musician with a significant history in composition, improvisation, extended instrumental techniques and the use of recording technology. My role was to research, develop and produce electroacoustic compositions designed specifically for the project. The resultant sound compositions were delivered through headphones and iPods® to patients at the St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. In addition the participating patients were provided with questionnaires employed to gauge their responses to the sound compositions.

For the Designing Sound for Health and Wellbeing project the research focused on a number of key areas where I investigated the sonic effects of hospital and Emergency Department architecture and infrastructure upon the working, clinical and listening environments of medical staff and patients. The research concentrated on the functions of the human brain in regard to music and, in particular how the brain deciphers sonic and musical information. I also investigated the use of extended instrumental techniques throughout various musical genres to determine how these techniques influenced the project historically and explicitly during the composing stages. The project also examined how literature, Sicilian culture and Asian instrumental sounds influenced the compositional contribution to the project.

The outcomes of Designing Sound for Health and Wellbeing illustrate the ability of electroacoustic compositions and soundscape compositions to significantly reduce the stress and anxiety levels of Emergency Department patients. In addition the composing process for this research project encouraged me to work outside my usual musical abilities and add new sonorities and instrumental techniques that broadened my musical palette. These outcomes demonstrate that rigorously composed and refined musical and sound compositions can be used in public forums to encourage engagement between areas of community life not traditionally seen as intertwined.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Keyword(s) Composition
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Created: Wed, 14 Nov 2012, 14:47:43 EST by Kelly Duong
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