Depression and anxiety are on the rise worldwide. That's why we need to look at new ways to help people overcome psychological problems.
The Refeel study is a ground-breaking study aimed at designing relaxing music to calm the mind by reimaging the classics.
Music has long been used to improve mood and lower levels of stress.
While there is an abundance of relaxation music on the market, very few have been purposely designed or scientifically proven to relax the listener. The few musical pieces that have been proven to relax, the majority are highly synthesised and are often described as ‘elevator’ music.
The Refeel study is about reimaging Classical music by some of the greatest composers of all time and recomposing these masterpieces so they are scientifically proven to relax.
STUDY 1: IDENTIFYING RELAXING PIECES FOR STRING QUARTET
100 people will be involved in the first study. 25 people with clinically significant anxiety and depression and 25 people who use music to relax are to be provided with recordings of 10 adagio or slow movements played by the Recreate Project. 50 people will also rate the same music, played live by The Recreate Project.
The 10 string quartet adagio, andante or slow movements to be played were chosen after scanning the internet and current relaxation albums on the market for movements arranged for string quartets. Clinically significant depressed and anxious people rated the music on a simple relaxation scale, and reduced the list from 20 to 10 pieces for this study.
The following movements were chosen:
1 Beethoven String Quartet No 13 in B flat Major, Op 130 V Cavatina (Adagio molto expressive)
2. Beethoven String Quartet No 16 in F Major, Op 135: III Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo
3 Haydn String quartet in G, H. III Op 76 No 1: II Adagio Sostenuto
4. Tchaikovsky String Quartet Op. 11 - II. Andante cantabile
5. Debussy String Quartet in G minor Opus 10: III. Andantino, doucement expressif
6. Mendelssohn Quartet no 6 in F minor, Op 80, R 37: III. Adagio
7. Mozart String Quartet No.1 in G Majr K.80 Adagio
8. Borodin String Quartet No.2 in D Major: III. Nocturne andante
9.. Haydn's Quartet in B flat Major, Op. 76, No. 4 "Sunrise" adagio
10. Bach "Air".
Participants will be asked to score each movement on a relaxation scale and to order the pieces from the most relaxing (1) to the least relaxing (10). Additional information such as a rating of sadness, potential of each piece to be recomposed into a relaxing piece, and also potential for for the music to be used with relaxing, meditative imagery will also be collected. To minimize the recency effect the order of the movements listening to the recordings will differ for each participant.
The top 5 Movements which scored the most relaxing will be chosen to progress to the second study
STUDY 2: ORIGINAL MOVEMENTS
It is planned that 100 participants across a variety of ages and countries will participant in providing feedback on the original score of the 5 selected pieces of music from recordings made by the Recreate Project. A further 50 people will attend a live performance of the chosen music. Participants will be asked to rate each movement on a relaxation rating scale, pre and post stress measures, other mood scales, and also provide feedback of what they found in each piece to be relaxing, what they found to be distracting and adding tension. Results will be provided to a composer, who will collaborate with neuroscientists, clinical Psychologists and music therapists to reimagine the original versions to induce even more relaxation.
STUDY 3: REIMAGINED MOVEMENTS
The reimagined movements will be rated by 100 participants on a relaxation rating scale, pre and post stress measures, other mood scales, and also provide feedback of what they found in each piece to be relaxing, what they found to be distracting and adding tension. A further 50 people will be involved in this stage of the project by attending a live performance of the chosen music. Results will be provided to the composer to refine the reimagined versions and to recompose them to induce even more relaxation.
STUDY 4: RECOMPOSED MOVEMENTS
The Recomposed movements will again be rated by 100 participants on a relaxation rating scale, pre and post stress measures, other mood scales, and also provide feedback of what they found in each piece to be relaxing and what they found to be distracting and adding tension. A further 50 people will attend a live performance of the chosen music. Results will be provided to the composer to refine the recomposed versions to finalise the creation of the relaxed product.
STAGE 5 – RECORDING OF THE 5 RECREATED RELAXED CLASSICAL PIECES FOR A STRING QUARTET
Whilst all 4 stages of the project are critical the professional recording of the 5 recreated relaxed classical pieces will form part of a compilation of purpose designed relaxed music to help calm people in stressful environments. It is anticipated that this music will be trialled in waiting rooms, hospitals, aged care homes and mental health facilities and become a useful aid to assist everyday people to lower their stress levels and help to still their mind.
The Recreate Project, consisting of Rollin Zhao, Elle Hill, Andrew Hathway and Simon Svoboda, were formed in 2017 especially to play and record music to improve mood. As part of the Refeel Study they will meet with dance advisors to help them perform the music in such a way as to enhance the mood which the music is designed to create. What we have come to associate with traditional string quartets’ performances is likely to change as feedback will also be sought on whether the live performance by the musicians was relaxing to watch and whether any changes could further enhance the relaxation experience.
The Recreate Project will play the music in all four stages of the study including the fifth stage which is the recording of the recomposed adagio movement of the classical pieces.