Music Created From the Tremors of Parkinson's Patients

Sonic exploration yields 'Tremors vs. Tremors'

Can music based on Parkinson's tremors help those struggling with the disease—which inhibits movement and bodily functions—to regain a sense of harmony?

A project from University College London explores this realm through a project led by neurologist Dr. Christian Lambert. Dubbed "Tremors vs. Tremors," his initiative probes the relationship between motion, mood and melody.

Developed with Innocean Berlin and DaHouse composer/producer Lucas Mayer, the work constitutes a creative experiment. Its makers hope their learnings will yield new treatment options somewhere down the line.

Tremors vs. Tremors

Transmuting the "shakes" associated with Parkinson's into danceable beats feels empowering. It's a way to reclaim control over a debilitating symptom and get back in sync with one's natural rhythms.

DaHouse built full arrangements around tremor data from five participants, with lyrics based on each one's Parkinson's journey. The results range from symphonic and uplifting to jaunty, with swoops and dips in modulation that entice the ear and, perhaps, provide relief to weary souls.

"In managing Parkinson's, it's not all about medications," Dr. Lambert says. "There is a broad range of strategies and therapies available that can form part of a holistic approach to care that is tailored to the individual person. Our hope is that this project will inspire patients, people caring for people with Parkinson's, and researchers to take some of this work further, to provide more ways to help understand, manage and treat the condition."

This isn't ambient noodling. The tracks stand on their own as catchy pop tunes.

"I feel a physical change in my symptoms when I have an emotional reaction to things. And, there's nothing more emotional than music that's based on me," says Kuhan, one of the participants. His song, "The Greatest Day," is an insistent thumper.

Clare says her track "made me consciously let go of my hands, instead of holding my hand to stop my tremor. I just want to share it with everybody. Listen to this. This is me, this is my tempo, this is my tremor."

That tune, "Starlight Keeper," rocks a vibe that wouldn't sound out of place on most Gen-X playlists. The empowering verses wax poetic:

"Now she lifts the moon
In the palm of her hands
Starts to move the stars

Her voice
Lights the cosmic tango

Her eyes
Paint the silent groove

Her boots
Push the outer space

Listen to her moonlight dance

Can you feel the spectacle?
Isn't she incredible?"

The full album streams on all major platforms. Sales of a limited-edition vinyl record available will benefit Parkinson's U.K.

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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