• The Sound of Therapy

  • October 1, 2021

    Preserved notation samples of actual "healing" music can be found throughout history, from ancient Egypt to Greek Antiquity to the Renaissance. But only recently has music therapy evolved from no science to actual brain science. In this post, MI shares an update on a recent initiative and promising new avenues of clinical science research in music therapy.


    Music therapy, techniques grounded in the notion that creative musical expression supports healing and mental health, has long been considered a useful part of therapeutic processes for a large number of mental disorders, from depression and anxiety to dementia, schizophrenia, autism, stress, trauma, pain, fear of childbirth, and more.


    Its diverse application across clinical domains has also helped to re-conceptualise patients' experienced well-being—their quality of life and personal relationships, for example—as health indicators.


    But research gaps remain in the field that only large-scale clinical studies can address—asking and answering questions like:

    • Which therapeutic approaches are best suited to which indications?
    • How might mobile technologies enhance existing modalities - and pioneer new ones?
    • How will clinically validated music therapies be administered at scale?
    • What role does patient choice play in therapeutic outcomes?
    • And intriguingly, can music therapy help in the diagnosis of disease or support clinicians with unique sets of medically relevant data?


    In short, rigorous, theory-based approaches to the application of music therapy in mental health treatment using digital technologies are needed.


    That's why earlier this year, MI partnered with Shanghai-based sound therapists Wu Manjia and Chen Youming to launch the first music therapy experience in AmDTx. Grounded in theories of sound resonance, a suite of six compositions were recorded live in Shanghai and launched on AmDTx in late 2020.



    Wu and Chen, who perform as “G Music Space”, are two of China’s leading sound therapists. Their music places the gong at the heart of their work, supplemented by voice, singing bowls, and water. Their performances draw crowds from across China who come to literally bathe in their music.


    Chen's love of music and belief in its power to heal led him to a mastery of gongs and other resonant instruments at the Performing Arts Department of Shanghai Normal University. Wu's love has always tended towards the singing voice. Grounded in Buddhist philosophy, she approaches her work through the prisms of sound, light, and vibrations.

    The two artists see the stressors of modern life as having a negative impact on our health and wellbeing. Through their music, they work to restore balance in mind and body, improving sleep, reducing anxiety and strengthening our immune systems.


    “We try our best to simulate nature’s sounds and rhythms to lead participants into a state of deep meditation, healing both physical and mental health,” says Wu.


    Results from AmDTx’s objective and benchmarked measures of wellbeing show how G Music’s compositions evoke positive shifts in users. After a total of 672 Mindful Minutes of engagement with G Music’s compositions, AmDTx users reported:

    • A 15-point drop on a 100-point self-reported stress scale (44 to 29), indicating a 34% drop in perceived stress.
    • A 3-point drop on a 100-point objective stress scale (49 to 46), indicating that AmDTx’s selfie video assessment picks up a 6% reduction in the body’s neuroanatomical stress response.
    • A 3-point increase on a 100-point implicit mood scale (48 to 51), indicating a 6% boost to mood.

    These data are leading MI to explore the theoretical basis of G Music’s work and define prospective clinical applications for patients.


    “How it's delivered is going to make the difference between whether or not music therapy has a therapeutic effect—and in particular how long the effect lasts,” say MI CEO and Chief Scientist Dr. Bechara Saab. “Because there's a difference between listening to music and just kind of feeling good, and having that music reinforce healthy brain states, facilitating brain circuits that enhance your resilience and compassion, and reduce your risk of mental illness.”


    "Clinical validation is needed to ensure that what is being offered is effective," says Saab. “But it's important on a whole other level in the fact that you don't achieve integration within the healthcare economy—you don't get the physicians on board—unless you have the data to demonstrate that music therapy really works.”


    This is the beginning of an exciting new area of study at MI and we couldn’t be more thrilled that music therapy is helping to lay the foundation for a happier and healthier future worldwide. Stay tuned for new experiments in music therapy coming soon to AmDTx.