The #soundofhappy project took off in ways that we had only hoped to aspire for when we embarked on this undertaking with C&G baby club & BETC London. "The Happy Song" reached #1 in the Children's UK iTunes charts within 24 hours of it being released.
THE CHALLENGE: To create the first track scientifically tested and created to make babies happy: #soundofhappy
BETC’s innovative creative answered C&G baby club’s brand commitment to baby happiness in a ground-breaking new way; giving back to parents and babies all over the UK.
BUILDING THE TEAM: Felt Music was brought in to pitch against other market leaders in Music Consultancy to find an artist able to create a catchy tune and work alongside scientific experts to form the lead components of the music team. Of the talent we explored, Grammy Award winning Imogen Heap fit the bill in exciting ways. Imogen uses an experimental approach in her music, is fascinated by human behaviour and pushing boundaries and is a front-runner in utilising technology musically (e.g. innovative gloves project). More importantly she is also a mother to a young daughter, enabling her to relate to and express the complex dimensions of the project in a personal way.
The Goldsmiths psychology team was selected for their combined skills that brought unique insight and two sides of expertise to the table; music psychology & infant psychology. Our science team was made up of Dr. Caspar Addyman (infant psychology) and Professor Lauren Stewart (music psychology) who were proposed by and engaged by Felt Music. Their combined and independent specialist areas bridged the gap between the science and the sound.
Felt Music acted as a musical facilitator alongside Imogen Heap and the Goldsmith team as they crafted various song ideas, rounds of changes and interpreted both overview and linear scientific data.
STAGE 1 - CROWD SOURCING: Activating C&G baby club’s core audience alongside Imogen Heap fans, the project first started with mums and dads inputting sounds that made their little ones laugh. Imogen took the sounds uploaded by her fans on Soundcloud whilst Felt created a bank of recorded samples mirroring the sounds sent in by C&G UK Mums and Dads via social media to spark inspiration for the first song ideas. Caspar & Lauren worked alongside Felt to put together a comprehensive overview of previous scientific research and hypotheses on infant happiness to catapult the song from it’s starting block. Imogen worked her musical magic and interwove her experience as a mother to produce four short tracks that explored different tempos, chord ranges and patterns, pitches, rhythms, performance cues and musical devices.
STAGE 2 – INITIAL TRACK IDEAS: The first person to contribute to and hear the initial track concepts was Imogen’s 18-month-old daughter, Scout. Armed with a list of research and theories, four ideas evolved. From these a clear winning track emerged from the results of the testing in the infant lab and specific musical devices were clearly winning the smiles, which formed the path for the next stages of the composition process.
STAGE 3 – TESTING UNDERWAY: The Goldsmiths team carried out a three-month testing process at their infant lab, during which they identified the ingredients to create the ultimate happy song for little ones. Supported by Felt Music and Pretzel films, who also documented the whole process by filming every step including our psychologists monitoring more than 50 babies' reactions to the tracks, including movements, facial expressions, heart rate and vocalisations to see which parts of the song created a positive mood.
STAGE 4 – FINISHING TOUCHES: To ensure the song worked on as many babies as possible, and that all winning features from previous research and previous rounds of testing were being made the most of, Imogen and the psychologists rigorously went through multiple rounds of happy tests. There were specific devices that proved to be essential to the efficacy of the composition; a major key signature, female (motherese) vocal, tempos between 160 – 170 bpm, repetition, ‘plosive sounds incorporated through the lyrics and crowd sourced sounds, infant vocalisations (enter Scout) and the interjection of surprise moments. As a bonus, Imogen created lyrics that encourage parent / child interaction and helping to form a bond through interaction with music.
After 3 months of testing for little smiles, giggles and dance moves, the results were in and showed that the sound of happy had been found.
Pretzel films did an amazing job of documenting every part of this amazing process, including gaining access to some of the participating mums and babies at home! From this content they created a music video for C&G baby club and a Making of Video!