Holistic Communication


Feeling Music

"Tac-Tile Sounds"

Music Floors






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Music Therapy treatment using Vibroacoustic technology is becoming an important part of rehabilitation for different client groups and in particular for those students who have a sensory impairment, including those with Severe Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). People with a 'Dual-Sensory impairment' (loss in the hearing and sight i.e. deafblind), suffer from tensions in the eyes, head, neck, shoulders and legs.

Music Floor Designs

There are various types of ‘Music-Floor’ Designs and equipment facilities available on the market, some are fixed permanently in a special room, and others may be portable. These can include the following:

- Portable Music Floor ("Tac-Tile" Sounds System - TTSS)
- Fixed Music Floor
- Four-point fixed floor system
- Resonance Box or board

Portable Music Floor ("Tac-Tile" Sounds System - TTSS)

Recently given the Millenium Product Award in 1999, the development of the TTSS was initiated by myself through a project with the cooperation of Whittington Hall Hospital & Sheffield Hallam University and the Health Research Institute at Chesterfield and Sheffield in 1994. The aim was to produce a ’modular designed’ portable music floor which would allow greater access for people with a sensory impairment, so that the vibrations from the music could be felt in a physiological sense. The TTSS can be adapted to meet the demands of professionals and therapist working in different residential centres, hospitals and out in the field. The TTSS would also appeal to those clients who have Profound & Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). The design had to meet the criteria of being portable which can be stored into a conventional cupboard, placed into a boot of a car (for travel) and to be re-located to different locations using a purposed-built trolley.

Furthermore, from a teaching point of view, the units can be organised in a ’two and two’ units combination, with the teacher for example (playing a keyboard) at the front, facing four individuals sitting on the four units who are able to feel the music being played at the same time (this also be done when using a CD or cassette player). The TTSS project is now being evaluated by participating centres in Scandinavia and in Europe in specialised schools, residential centres and hospitals. (For further information contact Paul Chamberlain, Principal Lecturer Industrial Design, Sheffield University in the UK, see contact addresses).

Refer to the "Tac-Tile Sounds System" (TTSS) on this website.

Fixed Music Floor

Originally pioneered from Norway which consists of a permanent floor area (a single unit) which may be raised a few centimetres from floor level, and contains electronics which are positioned inside the floor unit. The floor is connected to a powerful amplifier, compact disk and/or cassette deck, and the music can be felt through the floor. In order to enhance the acoustics in the room, planks of wood like a good quality ’pine’, are placed on the ceiling and walls around the room. It has exceptional realistic sound and resonance qualities, but is also very expensive to build, approximately in excess of 12,000 depending on the size of the floor required.

Four-point fixed floor system

Similar to the above system, but instead of being on a raised floor, the speaker/electronic elements are built into the wooden floor area of a gym or dance hall. These need to stand up to a lot of punishment in their design and are also very expensive to produce. Some of these floors exist which may have been built during the 1980’s at residential centres around Scandinavia or in Europe like in Holland.

Resonance Box or board

This can be an effective, cheap facility but is somewhat limited in its use usually either a wooden resonance box or wooden board (square shaped, raised on a wooden frame). By placing two-speakers (connected to a music hi-fi system) at opposite ends in the box unit, or on top of the board’s surface, you can have your own small music floor. The vibrations from the speakers will vibrate through the box or across the board’s surface. One drawback is that you need to have a permanent place to store this facility, and the quality of the vibrations will depend on the power of your music hi-fi system. Due to the limited size and strength of this facility this may be only suitable for children.

Other Vibroacoustic Facilities

There appears to be a growing market of technological music facilities and equipment which may be built into a multi-sensory relaxation facility or centre. One needs to consider carefully what and how you want to use your music facility and how adaptable these facilities can be used. Are the facilities ‘user friendly’, or do you need to be a technical expert? In my experience a music system needs to be adaptable and simple to use otherwise the user will end up storing it away in a cupboard, which will not be used again. Some of the equipment may be very useful and productive. Be sure to try out the facilities with your clients in your own working environment or organise visits to other centres to evaluate its effectiveness, as some of these facilities may be expensive. Some other facilities are available in Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway) and Europe.

These can include the following facilities:

- Physioacoustic Chair (Petri Lehikoinen, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland)
- Vibroacoustic Bed (Norway)
- Water Bed on a hi-fi Speaker Unit (Denmark)
- Speaker PA System

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