UCL, Innocean Berlin transform Parkinson’s tremors into music

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University College London (UCL), in collaboration with creative agency Innocean Berlin and audio production company DaHouse, has launched a pioneering project, called Tremors vs. Tremors where bespoke songs have been created to help provide relief to the multiple symptoms experienced by people with Parkinson’s.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s, a number expected to double over the next twenty years.

Tremors vs. Tremors

The Tremors vs. Tremors project focuses on the individual nature of Parkinson’s and how it affects each person differently.

There are over 40 symptoms to the condition, many of them hidden from view such as anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and apathy, that have a big impact on an individual’s day-to-day life and can make the condition harder to treat.

Exploring the intersection of music, mood and movement, the project team measured the tremor of five people with Parkinson’s and composed unique songs with their tremor data embedded into the song’s core.

The project was led by Neurologist Dr. Christian Lambert, a Principal Investigator at UCL who interviewed individuals affected by Parkinson’s and took recordings of their tremors.

This was then sent to DaHouse, where the raw data of each participant’s tremor was transformed into a musical element and used to affect the instruments and melodies of the tracks.

To ensure that each participant saw themselves in the song, the lyrics were based on their individual journey with Parkinson’s and the melody on their favourite music genre.

The songs had a positive impact on the participants. The reactions were as individual as their condition.

“I feel a physical change in my symptoms when I have an emotional reaction to things. And, there’s nothing more emotional than music that’s based on me”, said Kuhan, the participant whose song is called “The Greatest Day”.

Clare, whose encouraging song “Starlight Keeper” is about acceptance, said: “It made me consciously let go of my hands, instead of holding my hand to stop my tremor”.

“I just want to share it with everybody. Listen to this. This is me, this is my tempo, this is my tremor.”

Dr. Lambert described the importance of the project: “In managing Parkinson’s, it’s not all about medications. There is a broad range of strategies and therapies available that can form part of a holistic approach to care that is tailored to the individual person.

“Our hope is that this project will inspire patients, people caring for people with Parkinson’s, and researchers to take some of this work further, to provide more ways to help understand, manage and treat the condition”.

Paul Jackson-Clark, Director of Fundraising and Experience, Parkinson’s UK, said, “The Tremors vs. Tremors project is an innovative way to express people’s experiences of Parkinson’s and we are incredibly appreciative that the royalties from the album will go to Parkinson’s UK.”

The aim of “Tremors vs. Tremors” is to continue to raise awareness of the variability in Parkinson’s, while also highlighting the importance of a holistic approach to managing symptoms.

The whole project is gathered on a dedicated website, which tells each participant’s story and explains the process in more depth.

Moreover, the “Tremors vs. Tremors” album is available widely on all major music streaming platforms, like Spotify or Apple Music, and includes a limited edition of vinyl records. All proceedings go to Parkinson’s UK.

The “Tremors vs. Tremors” project launches this week, which happens to be Brain Awareness Week (11 – 17 March 2024) and at an online event hosted by UCL in collaboration with Innocean, DaHouse and Parkinson’s UK.