Babies. Squidgy faces. Sleep deprivers. Poo machines. So my friends say. As well as adorable things you can’t help but smile with. So we wanted to return the favour and get the chubby cherubs smiling. But how? Like their taller, older homosapiens, they love music. So we thought, let’s make the first ever song guaranteed to make babies happy.
So we made the Sound of Happy. We got C&G baby club to ask Mums and Dads what sounds made their babies chuckle. Farting. Tick. Sneezing. Tick. Duck noises. Quack.
Ok, Ready? Here comes the science.
We buddied up with two Goldsmiths University psychologists and Grammy award-winning artist (and writer of music for the new Harry Potter play) Imogen Heap. Fed them the SFX and watched them go. A literature review here. Four short compositions there. And it was over to the babies to let us know which melody they liked best. Kind of like the X-Factor, but with people taller and more articulate than Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell.
The little ones had spoken (well, wriggled, danced and smiled in Goldsmiths Babylab) as they let their favourite be known. Then it was over to lovely psychologists Caspar and Lauren to impart their wisdom. Babies think rhythm really is a dancer, as strong rhythmic music like the works of Mozart, gets babies moving to the beat.
They also knew how babies’ brains love patterns and repetition. And because they have a shorter memory span than adults, a tune can be repetitive without getting boring. At the same time, the element of surprise is something they also respond to. A silent pause, a change in the tempo, or an unexpected effect on the vocals, gets babies going gaga. And as 8 out of 10 dogs would testify, the higher the pitch of sound, the more engaged and gleeful infants become.
So, Imogen. What do you make of all that? Well, she made a catchy record that stuck in the ears of babies and adults alike. Featuring the favourite sounds of UK babies, the car horn of a 1955 Morris Oxford, the rocket launch sound of a US government agency, the woof of a grumpy Pomeranian called Lily and two different cat meows (thanks Linda and Fiji). Within a day of its release ‘The Happy Song’ had Buzz Lightyear, Simba, Sir Tim Rice and Elton John and all the Pokemon/men/women quaking in their cowboy boots, paws, loafers, cartoon feet, storming beyond the lot to take No.1 in the iTunes children’s chart.