Improve Your Mental Health with Mindscape
The App that Combines Music, Voice Activation and AI
Mindscape is part of ‘Music x Mind’, an initiative by international creative music agency MassiveMusic with the aim of offering insights on the connection between mental health and music.
Since early 2018, we have been working on numerous projects, all related to our Music x Mind initiative, highlighting how music can be used to increase wellbeing.
After Music x Mind panels, sound bath sessions, Spotify playlists (and even a Free Your MMMMind party in Cannes) that helped our mind reach a place of calm and peaceful solitude, we thought:
How can we take this to the next level?
As it often happens in life when you believe in the power of connections and in the magic of serendipity, creative agency Cult LDN approached us to collaborate on their Mindscape project, an app that features a voice assistant to take users through a soothing series of questions, helping to assess their mood through conversation.
We at MassiveMusic played our role by composing and producing science-based musical compositions that can help users tackle mental health issues.
Ready to dive into it? Let’s go.
Cult LDN’s Cat Turner and Jen Heape with MassiveMusic London’s Aifric Lennon (on the right)
What is Mindscape?
Cat Turner and Jen Heape – respectively Chief Creative Office and Creative Innovation Lead at Cult LDN, had this great idea, conceived as a possible solution to all the countless stories that they heard from their circle of friends and connections who were struggling with anxiety and panic attacks.
What they found out was that there weren’t many opportunities that offered affordable and readily-available help out there. That’s how Mindscape was born, a mental health app that combines voice-technology, AI and neuroscience-based music therapy.
What did MassiveMusic do for Mindscape?
We composed 5 tracks aimed at alleviating anxiety, lifting low mood and aiding sleep. We also produced sound design underpinning the breathing exercises and also a short mnemonic for the invocation of the app.
The user only has to ask Google Home or Amazon Alexa to open Mindscape. Once the mood has been assessed by Cult’s voice AI technology, one of the pieces of music composed by MassiveMusic is selected. More precisely:
- Through a guided analysis, users can speak about their anxiety, learn to moderate their thoughts and breathing, and regain control through scientifically-proven sound-based therapy
- Free to use and always on, the app can be activated 24/7 and offers the closest experience to human interaction as possible
- The sound therapy is uniquely created at each interaction, based on mood evaluation, time of day and other user’s needs
- The app is intended as a support for instances when the user is unable or unwilling to access medical support, and not a replacement for psychological or medical treatment
What makes Mindscape stand out from a musical perspective?
MassiveMusic used evidence-based methods researched by Aifric Lennon to ensure that the bespoke music that we created incorporated scientifically proven sonic features to aid in specific scenarios. The next step was developing our quite prescriptive compositions to cater for the four unique scenarios that we wanted to address.
Who is Aifric Lennon?
Aifric Lennon works at MassiveMusic as Project Manager and Music/Mind Researcher. Despite her background in biomedical science, she said goodbye to the medical lab to pursue a career in music.
Fresh out of her MSc in Music Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths, she now leads the Music x Mind initiative within MassiveMusic. On 8th October 2018 she was invited to BBC World’s Talking Business with Aaron Heslehurst to speak about how music can help with mindfulness and what MassiveMusic did for Mindscape.
What keeps her focused and motivated is to work on understanding how the connection between music and emotion can leverage brands through sound, as well as improve mental wellbeing.
What kind of compositions can users find in the app?
We composed 5 tracks, each of them with a specific purpose in mind. For example, in the sleep track, we used rhythmic entrainment to gradually ease listeners to sleep across a 20 minute period. The piece begins at a tempo of 70 beats per minute (average resting heart rate), and gradually decreases to 50 beats per minute (average heart rate during sleep).
Rhythmic entrainment involves our unique human ability to ‘lock-in’ to an external pulse: the human body naturally augments its internal rhythm in response to an external pulse, and has been widely proven to have a therapeutic effect.
The great thing is that Mindscape has been developed in such a way that additional pieces of music can be added to the application further down the line.
As Roscoe Williamson, Head of Sonic Branding, MassiveMusic London says: “The challenge was to compose music with a conscious thought in mind for the listener. By factoring in the various compositional features set out from our research, we were able to build a small family of sound therapies with continuity as well as purpose. Creating sound with purpose was the key driver for our creative, and I am a firm believer in using music as a form of holistic therapy.”
Roscoe Williamson and Aifric Lennon at BBC World studios in London
On a broader level, how can music improve mental health?
One of the most accessible and universal creative outlets is music – and we know that. Valorie Salimpoor, a researcher based in Toronto, Canada, who has dedicated her career to investigating how music makes us feel, revealed that dopamine, also known as ‘the happy hormone’, is released in the brain during intense moments of pleasurable music listening.
When there’s an increase in dopamine production in our brains, we want more. So, music really is medicine, and we need to use it more consciously.
Simple ways to use music in order to keep on top of our mental health:
- Listen to the right music, first thing in the morning
- Choose music to match your mood (and don’t be afraid to listen to sad music if you’re feeling gloomy)
- Repetitive, rhythmic music will help you concentrate (non-lyrical, minimal, percussive music is best to help you focus)
- Music with a slow tempo will ease anxiety (optimum BPM for relaxation is 60)
Cat Turner from Cult LDN adds: “Mindscape was designed by humans to help others feel stronger, allowing them an opportunity to work through their concerns and offering them effective pathways to calmness; a feeling of control in a period of panic. It is our hope that Mindscape will help people in the moment where they need it most.”
Who knows, maybe after a while, especially if your mind has learned how to be healthy, calm and focused on the way, you won’t need to escape from it anymore. In the meantime, trust the process.
Mindscape officially launches on 8th October 2018 in readiness for World Mental Health Day on 10th October. It will be available to all English language speaking countries. You can experience the app at Google Home and Amazon Alexa using the voice command “open Mindscape”.
This article contains excerpts from How music can help creatives living with anxiety and depression, published by Design Week on 11th June 2018.
💟 Do you want to read more about our ‘Music x Mind’ initiative?
Music x Mind: let’s talk about mental health
Jambient, Vol. 1 (Live) A jam + ambient album by MassiveMusic
AMSTA: Bespoke playlists to support residents of nursing homes
Sound bath and the healing power of sound
Instruments for Change: Changing the world through music