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Hospital Sounds


The following information is in reference to Chapter 10, page 140 of The Power Of Sound.

In her second chapter in Music that works entitled Music as a Medicine: Incorporating Music into Standard Hospital Care,14 Vera Brandes focuses on the role of music in clinical enviroments. After a thorough literature review on the effects of media (and noise) in hospital settings, and recent research on the decreased anesthesia and greater pain reduction due to the presence of music, she turns her attention to delivery systems.

Every new study that corroborates the positive effects of music intervention in hospitals adds urgency to the general question as to how music can be implemented in standard daily clinical practice. The structural changes pending in technical hospital management will bring about many changes. The idea of providing patients with (ed., computer) laptops and internet access is gaining currency and in the foreseeable future we may expect this to be as normal as present day patient call systems. Therefore, it is urgently necessary to consider carefully how media can be implemented in the clinical environment in a manner that brings about recuperative effects instead of causing additional stress.”15

To that end, Sanoson has developed a special radio program. After a decade of research and development involving universities and hospitals, the program is available to interested institutions, via broadband streaming service. The content is based on the findings from the basic research of the chronobiological aspects of the effects of music16 and depth psychology analysis applying psychological morphology methods.17

As of this writing, I have not heard these sound tracks. Vera Brandes and colleagues have created original music and sound recordings that adhere to six functional aspects–in accordance with psychological structural patterns established by their research.18

1. tranquilizing programs with familiar sounds

2. meditative background programs

3. grounding elementary sounds

4. transforming stimulation programs

5. offer of metaphysical sound-journeys

6. possibility of self-medication.

“In respect of the program’s healing support capacity, the Frieske study showed that the basic aspects of the psychological and physical stress ensuing from the patient’s conditions and from the hospital situation could be addressed by their listening to the program content. The listeners received ‘acoustic food for the soul’ – their unease could be calmed and there were revitalizing components to help them cope with their sense of immobilization. They could apply self-treatment or let themselves be treated. Their horizons were expanded beyond bed and hospital ward through mental passages of sound that led them out into nature and ‘back to the roots.’ Restrictions fell away and in their imagination they could travel without limitation. For instance, journey of sound could help them to think beyond the present. The music sowed seeds of survival on the ravaged field of their harshly distributed condition. Acoustic therapy for the soul multiplied the effectiveness of physical treatment, ushering in a new day with a more positive orientation.”19

Having participated and reviewed countless research studies, Vera Brandes has incorporated many subtle, but effective considerations into her construct. One that stands out to me is her understanding of the impact of psychological perception, in addition to the neurological effects of resonance and entrainment. In her chapter in Music that works, Vera speaks of a July 2008 Nature essay on science and music by John Sloboda,20 in which she says, “…researchers must study music as people actually experience it, if they are to understand how it affects thoughts and feelings. However, most music perception research methods are limited in their application regarding the effects of music in the clinical practice¬–the context in which a patient perceives music represents a special challenge to researchers.”

Taking into account the enormous variability of medical conditions and illness progressions, Ms. Brandes is aware of the size of her task.

“Our study and the audio program that we have developed have set the ball rolling. There are already program variants available for a large section of the population of adult in-patients. However, children’s music differs from those of older people and pre-operative and post-operative music therapy must address quite different issues, i.e., compared with palliative medicine. Likewise, what is required in an intensive care unit is different from that which stroke patients need during the rehabilitation process, and those suffering from dementia must receive a different therapy, which helps patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Now that we have come to recognize just how potent music can be as a source of stimulus, research into the required frequency and type of music-based interventions, as well as into the question of how to implement it in the best way, has become a matter of priority. In addition to the forms of music therapy already known and in use today, it will, in the future, be necessary to develop a wide range of specialist variations within the discipline in order to exploit the therapeutic potential of music fully.”

After ten years of research and development in the realm of receptive music therapy (whereby no active participation of the patient is required), Ms. Brandes turns her attention to the technical implementation. She believes that in order to provide an optimal music solution in a hospital, the entire staff infrastructure (medical, care, technical, and administrative) have all got to work together, to learn about protocols, frequency of application, etc. She says, “The ideal music concept must take into account the various care levels involved and it must be possible to implement it and integrate it smoothly into the daily clinical routine within the realms of what is feasible.”21

Contact information:


Waehringer Strasse 115/19

1180 Vienna, Austria

Tel. 0043 1 9682655

Fax: 0043 1 9684723

Email: kontakt@sanoson.at

Web: www.sanoson.at

Ch. 10, p.140 Additional information on Harmonic Healthcare and Don Campbell:

The following interview with Don Campbell took place in Novemeber 2009.

JL: What exactly was your job description and why did you, as such a busy guy, choose to accept it?

DC: As The Mozart Effect® brand had been translated into twenty six languages and reached nearly three million in sales, I realized one of the missing links to sound and healing had to do with music in the healing environments. Because a piece is slow and soft does not mean it is healing. It can be boring and even clutter a space as if there were too much light on incense. I am director of music and acoustic services for Aesthetic Audio Systems. I took on the massive challenge of selecting and liscensing over 5,000 pieces of music for playing in 12 designated public and staff areas in Healthcare facilities.

JL: What criteria (psychoacoustic principles) did you apply to the selection of music?

DC: Music can never be too thick. Modalities and styles of music need to change in waiting areas depending on how long people are waiting. From an outpatient wait of 20 minutes to a surgical waiting area of 6–8 hours, the change of the music is essential in keeping the environment fresh, interest and subtle. People are not there to listen to music, the stress is high and a variety of sounds and silence create an essential atmosphere.

JL: When did you begin and where are you currently in the process?

DC: Our first major installation was in 2005 at Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital near Boulder, Colorado. MarianJoy Rehabilation Hospital in Wheaton, Illinois has the most interesting environments including an outside labrynth and garden as well as a special meditation room and chapel. Aesthetic Audio Systems has now installed Harmonic Healthcare® in dozens of facilities and medical office throughout the United States. You can take a audio tour of a hospital at www.aestheticas.net.

JL: What’s the future hold for music in healing environments?

DC: My newest project, Healing at the Speed of Sound™ with Advanced Brain Technologies, has surveyed nearly 11,000 studies in sound and music. A forthcoming book will update the field in what has happened in research sin the past fifteen years. There is so much on the great buffet table of sound and music, it has astonished me.

Editor’s note: Don Campbell passed away in 2012.

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