Banda Sonora Vital is an interesting research project on music and memory promoted by the Music Technology Research Group of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. The project has been awarded the 2020 Red Cross Humanitarian Technology Award in the 'Impact' category.
This project, in which entities such as the Pasqual Maragall Foundation or Sanitas Mayores have collaborated, aims to use music as a tool for people with Alzheimer's or severe cognitive impairment to recall experiences and sensations from their past through music.
By means of an online questionnaire, it is possible to determine the musical tastes of the patient and to know what music has accompanied him throughout his life. All this allows to obtain a vital soundtrack in which songs and artists of your liking are collected that caregivers, relatives or the person himself, in the case of people with an early diagnosis, can reproduce in different situations such as music therapy sessions.
Forms of acquisition:
Currently the project is materialized in the form of a web page. It can be accessed through the following link:
If you have any comments or questions, you can contact the Banda Sonora Vital team at the following email address:
Author: Alberto Vidal Rodríguez
As mentioned, Banda Sonora Vital currently functions as a website that allows you to obtain a personalized playlist that collects relevant songs for Alzheimer's patients.
The operation is very simple. The way in which the tastes of the person and the music that have been significant for him or her are determined is through an online questionnaire.
This questionnaire is made up of 26 questions. Through these questions, relevant information about the patient's life is obtained, which includes biographical information, musical education, preferences (favorite artists, songs, genres, mood, instruments...) and memories associated with music.
Once the questionnaire has been completed and the list of recommended songs has been obtained, two options are proposed to listen to this music.
On the one hand, listen to it through YouTube videos from the Banda Sonora Vital page itself, in the links to the videos that appear below. Below each song are a series of related questions as to whether the choice of that song on the list was appropriate or not. In this way you can refine the list and make it even more appropriate to the person. When playing the songs from the website in the tests carried out, in no case has any ad jumped, which is a positive aspect to take into account.
The other option offered is to click on a Spotify link. However, this link is not working properly as it currently redirects to the exact same page. From Banda Sonora Vital they have indicated to us that this problem will be solved in future updates.
Once the personalized playlist is obtained, the questionnaire can be edited again later.
From the same account it is possible to manage the profile of different people and access their own music lists. This is very useful when working, for example, in nursing homes or day centers, so that a worker can manage the profiles of several patients from the same computer and with a single user.
Currently, one of the ways to finance the project is through donations. From the website itself it is possible to collaborate with the project by making a donation. These funds collected are used to keep the project active, as well as dissemination tasks.
We are facing a very interesting project that allows people with Alzheimer's or severe cognitive impairment to connect with memories, sensations or experiences through music.
In addition, music can be a good way for these people to relax or stimulate them to perform actions such as singing, dancing or laughing.
On the other hand, as shown on the Banda Sonora Vital website, this tool has served to collaborate in experiences of social integration that involve adolescents and the elderly. It has also been used in group meetings for Alzheimer's patients.
With a view to promoting and publicizing this project, it would be interesting if quantifiable results were given regarding how this or other music therapy projects provide a benefit in these Alzheimer's patients.
For this reason, it would be highly recommended to provide simple, clear information with a solid scientific basis that supports the use of music therapies as a tool in the fight against this type of neurodegenerative diseases. In this regard, on the website, in the section Technology different publications can be found on this particular topic.
In this sense, audiovisual materials are of great help to publicize projects of this type. The following link shows a video of the collaboration of Banda Sonora Vital with the Pasqual Maragall Foundation in a project that involves 4th year ESO students and Alzheimer's patients.
Regarding the medium or long term, several questions can be asked.
In the first place, if the tool could be transferred to another system or platform, such as a mobile or tablet application, so that it would be more accessible to the general public and to the elderly in particular.
Another interesting option would be the possibility that the system can work on a device of the smart speaker type. This would allow a greater comfort of use for these elderly people since they could use this service through the exclusive use of their voice and would eliminate the dependence that it has to be used through a computer, since many people in this group do not have in their Homes of a computer or not are well managed in the use of these devices.
A final aspect that could be considered is whether this type of music therapy can be useful not only in the treatment of patients already diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but also for older people as a prevention against this disease.
Along these lines, during these tests the Vital Soundtrack tool has been tested with a series of elderly people not diagnosed with Alzheimer's and in all cases the assessment they have made of it has been very positive, enjoying the experience of obtaining the personalized playlist and then be able to listen to this music.
Given that one of the potential users of Vital Soundtrack is the elderly, it is worth doing a small analysis of the accessibility of this tool for this group.
One group that Banda Sonora Vital is aimed at is people with an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's. They could use this tool without the need for someone else, for example a caregiver in a residence, to help them make use of their personalized playlist.
However, as mentioned above, many older people do not have their own computer and do not handle the use of these devices very well, being more common that they have a mobile phone with Internet access or a tablet.
In terms of usability, the design of the website is simple and easy to use. Perhaps a more direct way of accessing the custom playlist from the home screen would be interesting.
Regarding accessibility for people with reduced vision, something common in the group of older people, it can be said that it is good, since the web page presents a design on a white background with letters in dark colors that allow for a great contrast and make it easy to read. The size of the letter and of the different buttons also seems adequate so that they can be seen without major complications. In this regard, it should be remembered that in some browsers such as Chrome using ctrl + and ctrl – you can change the size of the text in a certain way, easily zooming in or out of the content displayed on the screen.
Possibility of using music therapy so that people with Alzheimer's can connect with memories and experiences of their past through music.
It is free, which allows it to be accessible to a greater number of users.
For older people it can generally be entertaining to review their favorite music or music-related moments in their life.
This tool can be useful in collaborative projects between, for example, young people and older people. These experiences can serve to bring both groups closer together and for young people to know a little more and learn from the experiences of these older people.
Possibility of exporting the web page format to another more accessible platform such as a mobile application.
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