BBC Launches ‘Music Memories’ Website

Monday 01 October 2018

The BBC has launched their ‘Music Memories’ website to help celebrate BBC Music Day 2018.

Seeing as BBC Music Day is a nationwide celebration of the ways in which music can incite happiness and improve wellbeing, it is fitting that the BBC chose the 28th to launch a potential lifeline for those with dementia. The Music Memories site allows users to browse popular music by decade and classical music by composer, as well as theme tunes from popular TV shows of the last hundred years. More than 1,800 thirty-second clips of tracks born throughout recent generations are available to browse, each one holding the potential to unlock someone’s memory of a time now forgotten.

Music therapy is an increasingly popular treatment method for individuals suffering from memory loss. As we often attach a particular song or genre to a specific moment or period in our lives, music has proven an effective medium through which to reach damaged parts of the brain. It is not uncommon for dementia patients to respond to the songs of their younger years, and piece together the timelines of their lives via popular music.

Tim McLachlan, an operations director at Alzheimer’s Society, remarks, “In latter stages, some people who may no longer be able to communicate much or at all through language can be transformed when they hear a song they recognize, joining in singing and/or dancing along. This is going to be a fantastic online tool to trigger music memories for those with dementia.”

Anyone can access the Music Memories website here. Once on the site, users have the ability to mark their favorite songs from each category and save them to a playlist. Upon completion, they can anonymously submit their playlists to the BBC via a survey which requests a birth year, gender, and other context. Organizations working with Music Memories, including Playlist for Life and Alzheimer Society, will analyze contributors’ backgrounds and attempt to pair their playlists with Dementia patients of a similar upbringing. In pairing a user’s playlist with a Dementia sufferer of a similar demographic, music therapists could potentially have an easier time pinpointing songs that will trigger their patient’s memory.

Gary Lightbody of rock band ‘Snow Patrol’ is the BBC Music Memories Ambassador. Of his participation in the memory-jogging effort, Lightbody says, “[Music] is the most powerful international language. It can break you and mend you sometimes in the span of a single song. My dad has dementia and anything that throws a light on the disease and helps in any way to reconnect people with their lost memories is something I want to be involved in.”