Relaxation Synthesis is an experimental music project dedicated to helping people relax (particularly women in labor), to be mindful and to encourage acceptance of one’s feelings. The idea arose out of repeated requests among my wife’s antenatal clients for more appropriate music to aid relaxation than what seems to be widely available.
My wife was then a paediatric research nurse who had worked for many years on an intensive care unit. In 2008 she gave birth to our son Hunter at home in a birthing pool using natural birthing techniques primarily from the HypnoBirthing methodology. Her labor lasted only three hours and Hunter was born within less than 15 minutes of the first push. 3.5 years later our daughter Minnie was also born calmly and joyfully at home in a birthing pool.
Inspired by her own positive birthing experience and having become increasingly aware of the endemic lack of understanding of the needs of women in labor across society my wife began teaching antenatal classes to pregnant couples. From the start most of her clients expressed a need for more appropriate music to aid in their relaxation than what was being provided. We began asking exactly what it was about the music that was putting them off. The answers amounted to an inability to be absorbed by the music without actually noticing it. Using recognizable instruments such as piano, harp or flute could be distracting because of personal associations with those instruments. One woman was unpleasantly reminded of being forced to have piano lessons as a child for instance. The same is true for natural ambience – not everyone finds the sound of waves on the seashore peaceful.
Informed by the needs of my wife’s clients I set out to create a body of work that specifically addressed these needs at every stage. The two tracks I’ve released have been used successfully not only in my wife’s antenatal classes but also by several women during both labor and birth with extremely positive results. I posted the tracks on Soundcloud several years ago and took a hiatus from the project. When I returned recently I discovered to my immense surprise that between them they’ve accumulated more than 310,000 plays, 2,500 likes and 500 reposts. They are the 3rd and 8th most popular tracks in the #relaxation category.