soundtracking with Robert Szkolnicki: The therapeutic use of loops

February 9, 2012

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

It’s cold and flu season, which means there could be a time ahead of us when the day’s achievements are measured by simple things. Like walking from the bed to the couch. Eating … something. And my favourite sick time achievement – sleeping comfortably.

Not only does my appetite for food change when I am sick (I have no taste for coffee), my musical taste also changes.

We all probably have in our musical library, a special collection of songs that we reach for to make us feel better.

Whether it’s getting over an illness or just helping get through the day, music helps us heal.

I saw Owen Pallett play a show in Winnipeg a few years back. In between songs, he hit a button on his keyboard to release a soothing electronic loop of sound. He remarked that the loops helped him recover from a recent bout with the flu. The memorable quote he used was “the therapeutic use of loops”.

Final Fantasy at the West End on Oct. 2, 2009 demonstrates the therapeutic use of loops. Photo by Robert Szkolnicki. All rights reserved.

Philips has recognized the importance of sound and have now included that in their light therapy lamps.

Ready for African Savanna? Morning at the Monastery? Romantic Paris? Holiday in the Country?

Okay maybe not. Actually, some of the sounds are not that bad. And it’s a free download so there you go.

Or start collecting your own soothing sounds. Kendal Chimes 2 by Josh Davison (found) on Disquiet. And a remix by L-A-J on Soundcloud. A new single, Never Change by Julianna Barwick.

And speaking of Soundcloud, check out the the Music Therapy Group.

If it is longer recordings and albums you are looking for then here are some recommendations.

From the independent record label and/Oar, a downloadable recording by Nathan McNinch When You Went Into Churches.

The experimental group Celer has a large collection of albums on their Bandcamp site. I recommend Dying Star.

I was recently introduced to Nicholas Szczepanik on a year end All Song’s Considered 2011 best of list. The album Please Stop Loving Me was described as having similar impact as Terrence Mallick’s 2011 movie Tree of Life. I think there is something to that. Stream the album on Bandcamp.

Hope you are feeling better soon.

Robert Szkolnicki


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