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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.

Dr Ben Oliver leading a C4CI music workshop
Music Workshop

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

Watch BBC coverage of the C4CI project

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