Drumming Out Dementia&Percussive Furniture

Posted by on 15 Mar, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I am very happy to share this article written by drummer and designer Thomas Maisey, who has been attending Drum Circles at Jacksons Lane. I am keen to offer the space to artists, therapists an dreamers to experiment and bring new ideas. Thomas brought his percussive chairs and run an experiment with the group.


Percussive Furniture
January saw the sound therapy group take time to experiment with some other sound: the electrical, the
amplified, the assistive! A big thank you to Laura, Anna and Mara who volunteered at Jackson’s lane
The title of the research project Drumming Out Dementia started back in 2009. My work has been largely
focused on the delivery of music therapy sessions in residential care homes for dementia patients in North
London. It has been a journey of rigorous experimentation in discovering and refining design interventions
to provide assistive music making opportunities. This experiment is an example of my approach in
unearthing new insights into musical interaction through other contexts and situations.
I have been observing and participating in various music therapy sessions to experience and understand the
subject in depth, one of the discoveries is that familiarity works as a tool in encouraging dementia patients
to participate, giving birth to the percussive chairs. They sit tapping to the music being played by the
therapist in the comfort of their chairs so I saw this an opportunity to amplify their musical contribution.
The experiment at Jackson’s Lane helped to develop prototypes into more sophisticated and efficient
products. This has resulted in a piano Zimmer frame which allows the ‘amateur musician’ to play a piece of
music collectively using assistive melodic technology through midi interfaces.
The feedback from this trial was very positive and complemented the mixture of acoustic and electrical
instruments. Some comments gathered afterwards included, ‘it’s almost hypnotic sending me into a trance-like
state’ and ‘they are empowering to the user, it makes me feel in control’. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every piece of
furniture had this emotional power? Other than some technical developments it proved that any object can
have a musical opportunity, turning your everyday mundane routines into a musical performance.
There have been many other creative ideas which have evolved into working prototypes, these will be
available for viewing (and playing) at the Central Saint Martin’s Exhibition in June – all are welcome.

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