Frazer Blog

Grief and Music: An App Lets You Create a Soundtrack for Grief

by | May 16, 2018 | For Families

grieving man with headphones

Music has long been used to help heal grief. From classic funeral hymns to more modern funeral songs, music plays an important part of our memorial rituals.

Why Music and Grief Go Hand in Hand

Humans have used music as a form of expression — not just for grief, but for all types of emotion. And there’s a science behind why that is.

Music reacts with the pleasure center of our brain, releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine. This causes us to feel positive emotions when we listen to music. In times of grief, dopamine can have a soothing effect and help us feel better.

Most of us listen to our favorite songs, or songs that remind us of our loved one when we need comfort. However, this experimental app is trying to change how we express our grief and they are doing so by letting us write our very own grief song.

Cove: An App That Lets Your Mood Write the Music

The app — originally called Flutter — was conceived by designer and inventor Alex Rothera and Ivor Williams, the lead designer of Being and Dying, which is a consultancy group focused on end-of-life care.

The app — now called Cove — was recently launched by Williams’ and Rothera’s new company Humane Engineering. Cove works by letting you express your mood through music and even lets you record your songs in a musical diary. According to an article in Wired, “Instead of users relying on words to describe how they’re feeling, they capture their mood by creating instrumental music that can be saved or shared. The goal is to replace the intangibility of grief, or happiness, or any emotion for that matter, with something you can see and hear.”

The designers said they originally chose to focus on adolescents because they often have trouble understanding and expressing their grief. The app provides a way for them to think about and express their emotions in a healthy way. But Williams and Rothera also point out that adults may find Cove equally useful in helping to express their grief.

Using studies on music and emotion as a starting point, the two designers then brought in composers to help design the complex chord structures needed to create soundtracks that reflect our own complex emotions. The results are surprisingly accurate. See for yourself by downloading Cove from the App Store.

What are your thoughts on using music to grieve? Share with us in the comments below!


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