This film investigates an exciting, multidisciplinary project undertaken by a team of academics based at the University of Southampton. The team there received AHRC-funding to investigate how to help deaf people, who have received a cochlear implant (CI), to get more enjoyment from music.
‘Compositions for Cochlear Implantees’ was a two-year research project that concluded in autumn 2012 with a performance of music composed specifically for CI users, at Turner Sims, University of Southampton’s concert hall.
A cochlear implant 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 project 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.
Dr Ben Oliver, the composer on the project, composed an original musical score for an ensemble of professional and outstanding student musicians to perform at the concert which was the grand finale of the project.
Music professor David Nicholls and Dr Rachel van Besouw from the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) initially secured the £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 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."
The team at the University of Southampton has now received a further grant for AHRC follow-on funding to further develop the IMAP software and roll it out internationally for the potential benefit of a global audience of CI users.
To read more about the research please see the following link to the team’s website: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mfg/current_projects/compositions.html (opens in a new window)