Babies don’t always do what mum and dad want them to. They’re not always happy. Every parent in the world wants to know how to keep a bub happy.
So BETC London and UK baby products brand, Cow & Gate, worked out how to do it.
With a tune. Thousands of British parents submitted the sounds that made their babies, aged between 6 and 24 months, smile – including the word “boo” (66%), a sneeze (51%), kissing noises (43%) and animal sounds (23%).
The agency took those sounds that made babies most cheerful, added lyrics such as, “Bring bring on the bicycle, beep beep in the car, ping ping in a submarine,” set them to trebly, upbeat tune and The Happy Song for Cow & Gate Baby Club was created…
…with help from Grammy award-winning musician, Imogen Heap, child and music psychologists, Caspar Addyman and Lauren Stewart from Goldsmiths University of London, and music consultancy, Felt Music.
The song underpins Cow & Gate’s positioning as a brand committed to promoting happiness in both littles ones and parents.
The track is available on Spotify, SoundCloud and Cow & Gate Baby Club’s social media channels.
How the song was created:
Heap took the sounds sent in by UK Mums and Dads, along with some previous scientific research and hypotheses from the psychologists, and produced four short tracks that explored different tempos, chord ranges and patterns, pitches, rhythms, performance cues and musical devices.
The first person to contribute to and hear them was Heap’s 18-month-old daughter, Scout. The Goldsmiths team then carried out a three-month testing process at their infant laboratory to identify the ingredients that would create the ultimate happy song for little ones. Supported by Felt Music, they monitored more than 50 babies’ reactions to the tracks, including movements, facial expressions, heart rate and vocalisations to see which parts of the song created a positive mood.
After three months a clear composition had been formed. To make sure the song worked on as many babies as possible, Imogen and the psychologists gave it more happy tests. Tempos and pitches were further raised and lowed pitch, ‘plosive sounds were inserted – all musical elements that the psychologists predicted would makes babies happy. Then, there was one last round of testing to confirm that the sound of happy had been found.
The 4/4 tempo was chosen as it is the most popular and easy to dance to. Heap chose to compose the song in the key of E flat as it was the key Scout sang a melody in on the first studio session. Other contributors included Scout’s dad for some whistling, Imogen’s mum for the chorus and the Pomeranian dog of one of Imogen’s past musical collaborators.
Dr Caspar Addyman, Goldsmiths developmental psychologist, who led the baby testing noted, “In the past researchers have looked at how noises and music might sooth or distress babies. Rarely has anyone focused on what sounds make babies happy. Our unusual team of parents, babies, scientists and the talented Imogen Heap each brought unique elements to the project, resulting in this fun, uplifting track that makes babies smile. The final song is a clever mixture of appealing sounds, musical motifs and interactive lyrics that give babies and parents a refreshing modern alternative to nursery rhymes.”