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The University of Southampton
The Music Focus Group

News release

The second set of music workshops in the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project ‘Compositions for Cochlear Implantees’ took place at the SoCo (Southampton Community Music Project) Creative Hub in May 2011.

The workshops began with a talk by Rachel van Besouw about why music, and in particular melodies, can be difficult to appreciate through a cochlear implant. Rachel explained the science behind cochlear implant technology and also gave some useful tips and strategies to help CI users get more from listening to music.

This was followed by computer and practical activities, which focused on how music can be built from simple building blocks. The workshop attendees tried out two pieces of new software that were developed especially for the workshops by project composer, Ben Oliver. The first piece of software, ‘The Environmental Rhythm Machine’, enabled attendees to listen and build complicated rhythms using everyday sounds such as a car horn, a toilet flush or a baby’s cry. The second piece of software, ‘The N-Machine’, enabled attendees to listen to particular instruments and mix their own versions of famous pieces of music including Maurice Ravel’s orchestral piece Boléro. In between these computer activities Ben introduced his new piece, Animal Building Blocks, which explores how different musical styles are constructed. During this practical activity, attendees learned how to build up complex rhythms and perform in an ensemble with guitars, pianos, shakers, drums and even a harmonium!

The feedback from the twenty-three CI users who attended the workshops was very positive with the vast majority finding the activities fun, useful and interesting. Comments from delegates included:

“[The] workshop [was] so easy to understand and such good fun. It was really worthwhile and I enjoyed the challenge.”

“It has given me a view into how music is composed. You don't have to have formal music training to enjoy composing.”

“…being the back-up to Ben's jazz in a live performance was great fun!”

“Get lots more funding to make the sessions longer. 

The final workshops in the series will focus on listening to live performances and will take place on Saturday 25th June. These workshops will feature an ensemble of student and staff performers from the University of Southampton. There are still a couple of places available so do let us know as soon as possible if you would like to come!

The N-Machine
Sarah Hodkinson helping a CI user

Final Workshops

The final music workshops for CI users, which will be focused on listening to live music, will take place at SoCo's Creative Hub on Saturday 25th June. Visit the workshop page to find out more info and how to sign-up.

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