Top musicians look for medical cures

peter-gabriel-850-100Muscians Peter Gabriel, St. Vincent , Jon Hopkins, and Esa-Pekka Salonen are helping an initiative headed up by former Nokia design head Marko Ahtisaari — explore the future of musical medicine.

The four musicians are going to help The Sync Project as advisors, roles that’ll necessitate working with the scientists researching music’s therapeutic properties and helping to raise the project’s awareness.

Gabriel and St. Vincentare art-rock veterans, Hopkins is an accomplished electronic producer, and Salonen conducts the London Philharmonia Orchestra. However Ahtisaari is more interested in their value as thinkers than their musical legends.

He said that he needed musicians and creators who have an active relationship with technology. It wasn’t so much about the contents of the music, or to commission any work, it was because they were creative thinkers.

The idea is to build a biometric recommendation engine for music and create musical treatment programs for medical conditions that match the efficacy of drug-based treatment without subjecting patients to the dangers and side effects of pharmacological programs.

Ahtisaari cites treatment for Parkinson’s disease as an example. Users could contribute data from their streaming service of their choice and sensors from their phones or wearable devices that characterize their physical response to certain music.

Collected in bulk, that data could inform more specific clinical trials testing the effects of various musical qualities on patient mobility.

The final result would be a personalized playlist, one that aids movement and changes with the patient’s activity.

The project’s musical advisors can’t shape its medical aspects, but Ahtisaari is hoping they can help push the conversation regarding music’s therapeutic potential forward among both musicians and listeners.