Active Minds develop activity products to assist people with dementia. The newest product is Scentscapes, a series of kits with sounds and smells designed to spark conversation, encourage relaxation and evoke pleasant memories. Vetyver were commissioned by Active Minds to create the soundscapes for the product.
Hearing and smell are the last senses able to engage people living with dementia. As dementia progresses it becomes more and more difficult to relate to the world around in a meaningful way. The power of soundscapes to conjure memories of the past is incredible, particularly when paired with scent. The combination can instantly transport people, stimulating memories and conversation that would otherwise have been difficult to reach.
The trick to creating genuinely transportative, evocative soundscapes is authenticity. The challenge here was that the world we we are recreating is one lost to history and largely undocumented. The world of domestic everyday situations from the 1950s and 1960s was an acoustic world devoid of mobile phones, computers and air traffic congestion. The materials used to make everyday products have in many cases changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Put simply, life sounded different. We strived at every opportunity to use equipment which was to authentic to the era. We achieved this through careful and close listening of our recording environments and by using authentic props and equipment. In order to achieve control and authenticity, all of the soundscape elements were recorded separately.
We paid careful attention during editing to ensure each soundscape was authentic and specific to a given situation, yet open enough to coax memories from the huge variety of the listeners' lived experiences. We think of the soundscapes as a blank canvas onto which the listener can project their own memories.
The other thing we had to consider is the way in which people with dementia listen to, and understand the world around them. The pace of the soundscapes is gentle and moves slowly to allow listeners to adapt and find their place within the accessible and resonant storylines. Active Minds worked in very in close collaboration with care homes in the development of the product and we benefited from extensive feedback during the editing process from the people who would eventually be using the product. This was very important to us and it is a privilege to work with a team so dedicated to creating a product which works and will truly make a difference to people’s lives.
A sample of some of our work can be heard on the player above.
Both the ‘At Home’ and ‘In the Garden’ Scentscapes can be purchased here. ‘The Tool Shed’, ‘In The Garden’, ‘At The Seaside' and 'Trains' coming soon.
Vetyver also composed and produced bespoke branded music for Active Minds which was used in the final mix.
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