From ancient ragas to "Weightless", the art of making music for sleep is an age-old practice. Renewed interest in live "sleep-ins", and an advance in research and technology that can help us understand what effect the music is having on the body, is helping musicians dream of a perfected soundtrack for sleep.
Hear our exclusive interview with Richard Talbot and Duncan Meadows of Marconi Union from the critically-acclaimed Marconi Union, about the creative process behind “Adrift”, the first composition available through , and their views on modern music technology, artificial intelligence and generative approaches to music for health.
Today, at Design Indaba in Cape Town, we're launching a world first - Unwind - an exclusive personalized music experience to help you relax before sleep.
Anyone interested in relaxation and better sleep with the help of music can participate using their smartphone at . It is free to participate.
Sync Project has collaborated with critically-acclaimed musicians Marconi Union to create this unique responsive music experience. This is a new kind of music made by combining machine learning and human musicianship, personalized to your unique physiology. All with a view to improving your relaxation and sleep.
Before the music starts you will be asked to hold your phone while still for a few seconds and we will "magically" determine your heart rate. The music will then begin to play using your heart rate as input and then gradually help you unwind from there. We will also ask you about your perceived state of relaxation before and after the music.
You can try the experience only once or as many times as you like. We hope you'll enjoy the personalized experience as much as we do, and we recommend trying the pre-sleep music for at least seven days.
So why launch Unwind in Cape Town at Design Indaba? Cape Town has been nicknamed “Slaapstad”, loosely “Sleepy Town”. This is a play on the Afrikaans name for Cape Town, "Kaapstad", and the Afrikaans word for sleep, "slaap". While we take no position on this, we've heard that Cape Town is often considered to have a slow, chilled-out pace of life, compared to, say, Johannesburg!
So tonight, Slaapstad will put the world to sleep! At Design Indaba, Sync Project is inviting all friends of design and creativity around the world to participate in this grand experiment, and to personally experience the relaxing and sleep improving effects of music. We will share results from this global experiment later this year.
About Sync Project
Sync Project is developing music as precision medicine. Intuitively we know the power that music has over us. We all self-medicate with music. Recent research has shown that music affects the same neural pathways that are regulated by psychostimulants and other drugs. Sync Project is building on this foundation and partnering with the world’s leading scientists and musicians on the first-ever large-scale studies to measure how the structural properties of music – like beat, key and timbre – impact biometrics such as heart rate, brain activity and sleep patterns. Sync Project is applying machine learning to this dataset to commercialize personalized music therapeutics.
Sync Project was co-founded by Marko Ahtisaari, Ketki Karanam, Yadid Ayzenberg and PureTech Health. Advisors include musicians Peter Gabriel, St. Vincent, Jon Hopkins and Esa-Pekka Salonen, as well as neuroscientists Robert Zatorre and Adam Gazzaley.
About Marconi Union:
Marconi Union – founder members Richard Talbot and Jamie Crossley with Duncan Meadows who joined in 2012 – are thought to be “amongst today's most talented musicians” (The Sunday Times). They have continually steadily developed and refined a unique musical identity, evoking emotions from gracefully blending elements of dub, jazz, ambience and electronica within their richly melodic compositions.
Their music is perfection: measured and solemn on occasion, misty and dreamy on others, discordant and grating as well, but always underpinned with a hint of experimentation that pushes boundaries, setting out to challenge as well as to entertain. They are never afraid to accept the challenge of making new music rather than just repeating their earlier work.
Marconi Union are probably best known internationally for ‘Weightless’, (“One of the most popular ambient tracks of all time” Yahoo), claimed to be the most relaxing track in the world with its tens of millions of streams and YouTube views, even earning the accolade of being named as one of the 'Best Inventions Of The Year' by Time Magazine). They were delighted to be approached by The Sync Project and commissioned to create a new generative composition for them, ‘Adrift’, which will be tuned to the individual listener as part of the Sync Project’s ‘Unwind’ App and which in consequence may never play in the same way twice.