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The University of Southampton

Grand finale to unique project to help cochlear implant users enjoy music

Published: 19 September 2012

An exciting concert of new works specifically aimed at cochlear implant users is taking place at the University of Southampton on Saturday 29 September.

The concert is the finale of ‘Compositions for Cochlear Implantees' (C4CI) - a collaborative project that is investigating how to help deaf people, who have received a cochlear implant, to get more enjoyment from music.

A cochlear implant (CI) can enable severely or profoundly deaf people to perceive sounds. Although CIs can provide excellent speech perception in quiet environments, current devices are very poor at conveying pitch information and therefore many CI users express dissatisfaction when listening to music through their implant.

Through a unique series of music workshops, the C4CI project has explored aspects of music that can be appreciated by CI users. This knowledge has then been used to guide the development of a computer-based music rehabilitation programme called the IMAP and compositions specifically for CI users.

This two-year project will conclude on Saturday 29 September with a public seminar and performance from 1pm at Turner Sims on the University of Southampton's Highfield campus.

Music professor David Nicholls and Dr Rachel van Besouw from the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) secured a £109,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to work with patients from the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre, based at the University.

"Hearing people speak again changes lives but many of our patients tell us they still can't enjoy music," explains Dr van Besouw. "They say they can hear rhythm but have problems distinguishing notes. We have investigated ways we can help them."

Professor Nicholls adds: "I have always been interested in how music can be used in a research environment to support people. It can encourage development and self-belief and boost self-confidence. I am sure our interdisciplinary approach to the challenge will make a real difference to our patients."

Dr Ben Oliver, the composer on the C4CI project, has composed new music for an ensemble of professional and outstanding student musicians to perform at the concert. Project leaders Dr Rachel van Besouw and Professor David Nicholls will introduce the research project with a short public seminar about cochlear implants and music before the concert.

The event will also be supported by Action on Hearing Loss, the largest charity in the UK working with hearing loss and hearing health.

The concert and seminar, which are open to the public, will be supported by a Speech to Text Reporter and a BSL interpreter.

Free tickets are now available from the Turner Sims Box Office on 023 8059 5151 and

Notes for editors

1. Members of the media are invited to attend the C4CI Grand Finale on Saturday 29 September at Turner Sims on the University of Southampton’s Highfield campus. There will be an opportunity to interview Dr van Besouw, Professor Nicholls and Dr Oliver about the project and speak to cochlear implant users who took part in the project.

2. For further information about the project please visit:  

3. The South of England Cochlear Implant Centre at the University of Southampton was established in 1990 to help severely to profoundly deaf adults and children. Since then, SOECIC has implanted over 800 adults and children. The Centre assesses the benefit that patients could derive from a cochlear implant, arranges for the surgical implant to be carried out and then trains the patient to use the system over a period of about a year.

4. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes hundreds of research awards ranging from individual fellowships to major collaborative projects as well as over 1,100 studentship awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

5. Action on Hearing Loss is the charity working for a world where hearing loss doesn't limit or label people, where tinnitus is silenced – and where people value and look after their hearing. For further information about Action on Hearing Loss or to become a member, visit  

6. The University of Southampton is celebrating its 60th anniversary during 2012.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, granted the Royal Charter that enabled the University of Southampton to award its own degrees in the early weeks of her reign in 1952.

In the six decades to follow, Southampton has risen to become one of the leading universities in the UK with a global reputation for innovation through academic excellence and world-leading research.

This year, the University’s reputation continues to grow with the recent awarding of a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in recognition of Southampton’s long-standing expertise in performance sports engineering.

To find out more visit  

For further information contact:

Glenn Harris, Media Relations, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 3212, email:  

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