contemplation spaces

Music composition based on science, times they are a changin’…

For Dutch Design Week 2017, Sizzer Amsterdam teamed up with curator Justine Kontou, Kettel & Secede, Klangstof, and a selection of highly talented and leading-edge artists and designers, to actualise the first edition of Contemplation Spaces. This highly tailored exhibition is designed to accentuate the importance of introspection, serenity and mindful interconnection in a multi-sensory experience using art, design, tactility, scent and sound. The exhibition features three contrasting areas. Resembling tree steps of a journey, each with its own composition which on their turn resonates with the themes, whilst amplifying the art & design.

Based on grounded research performed by musicology students at the University of Amsterdam, Sizzer Amsterdam explored the additive value of sound for this new way of addressing mental health. The results of this report were moulded into three unique musical pieces. Insight on creating soundwaves based on science and a download that includes the compositions can be found below.

Composition one “Motion in Motion”

The first step in entering Contemplation Spaces is diverting beholders from their day to day mind-set. To achieve this, Kettel & Secede composed layers of dissonant intervals upon a chaotic constantly changing rhythm structure. Research done by students at The University of Amsterdam shows the human brain controls its workload by detecting patterns. That explains for example why we can read only a few words of a sentence with our mind filling in the rest of the phrase. By using dissonant intervals (which consist of tones that don’t complement each other), and by using non-conforming rhythm and percussion elements, the mind has a hard time distinguishing patterns. While confused, the amygdala and hippocampus part of the human brain (responsible for processing emotions) are being stimulated. This arousal causes the mind to focus on the disconcerting composition, distracting itself from other stimuli and therefor creating focus.

Composition two “Alight”

When stepping out of the elevator, one enters a moment of release. Resonating through a breathing, airy soundscape composed by Kettel & Secede based on an original composition by Klangstof, this composition brings comfort but at the same time it portrays a hint of mystery. By implementing no percussive elements whatsoever, we’ve re-created the feeling of floating in between two mind-sets. Two different worlds, creating a serene and relieving atmosphere.

Composition three “Room 2402”

Room 2402 completes the passage of Contemplation Spaces, with the ultimate goal to achieve a relaxed state of mind upon its spectators. This composition is based on several recommendations originating from the report written by the students from the University of Amsterdam. We implemented a repetitive (major) chord pattern, structured around a 4/4 time signature which is most common in contemporary music and also reflects the tempo of our hearts beating. These factors combined create a point of recognition, reducing brain activity while conceiving a feeling of safety and familiarity. A very interesting detail about this piece is that the tempo decreases 10 bpm from the start of the composition all the way to the end. While listening, your heart rate gradually slows down. The decline in heart rate on its turn also leads to reducing blood pressure, calming down the person on the listening end. This phenomenon is called entrainment. An important recommendation from our researchers was to use as much real instrumentation as possible. Therefore, we live-recorded all piano pieces, as well as an Auguste Bernardel cello (no. 101, hand-crafted in the centre of Paris dating 1834) in the Blue Hotel studios in Haarlem.

Find all compositions available for download below. For more info contact

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