Scoring music for films is all about finding the rhythms and harmonic resonances that elicit a particular emotional response from humans. I've had to compose music that makes people happy, sad, angry, anxious, afraid – the idea always being not so much to manipulate emotions, but more to create a richer experience for the audience.
I once directed a documentary film that required unusual music. We needed the audience to suspend judgment long enough to absorb evidence that leads to some particularly startling conclusions. To this end I worked out a score that induces a mild trance-like state, with the intention of tapping certain resonances in the collective psyche.
But not quite as planned.
It worked so well that many people viewing the film fall asleep about halfway through, even those who are fascinated by the material.
Years later I had a high octane guest staying at my house, who drank copious amounts of coffee, paced, worried, and never slept. A charming but exhausting guest. I went into my studio and pumped out some of this kind of music. Ten minutes later he was unconscious on the couch.
The next day he was ranting about how "that music" put him into a deep sleep (an unfamiliar state for him), and was convinced it was something the world needed and that it should be marketed.
I recorded a bit of the music and tried it out on about fifty people, all ages. It put everybody to sleep, apparently. I did some research, made myself aware of such processes as brainwave entrainment, synchronization of body rhythms (breath rate, heart rate, brain waves), and balancing the wave activity in the two hemispheres of the brain. As far as I could tell the music was fulfilling many of the prerequisites for inducing sleep.
And then again, as several people have suggested, perhaps there is something else – an indefinable ingredient – which has more to do with film scoring and emotions than scientifically quantifiable processes, something in the tones and harmonic nuances of the music as simply music.
I eventually made this 74 minute version of 'that' kind of music, gave away about 500 copies over the years ... and am continually surprised to find it always seems to work for people, though sometimes in odd and unexpected ways, and that some people have now been using it for almost a decade.
Apparently it also has a very strong focusing effect for those with ADHD, and some therapists have found it 'does something unusual' for children with autism: 'calming and focusing'.
Thus the idea of making it available to a wider public.
Ben Ged Low