The Award Winning Healing music for the healthcare environment

What Does the Future of Healthcare Sound Like?

Why Arts-Infused Strategies Can Support Healthcare to Offer the Leading Edge for More Humane Care

Day in, day out, Americans are subjected to endless debates and disagreements concerning what kind of healthcare system we as a culture wish to provide our citizens. Is it a privilege or a right? Can we create sustainable, scalable ways to develop humane modalities, environments, and systems that would care for people in ways that are not just about alleviating symptoms and delivering medical protocols, but are also about treating people with greater compassion, sensitivity and respect? Could we become compassionate enough to create healthcare systems that would fulfill the dream so many health professionals share, to embody the true manifestation of what it means to be “care-ing”?

Now is the Time

If we ever wake ourselves up to help set us on a course away from the world of our fears so we might shift our attention toward the fertile world of our dreams, it will clearly take all of us: the politicians, the CEOs, the academics, the media, the healthcare professionals and the scientists.  But if we are truly serious about making this shift, it’s time to intentionally integrate what the mainstream can no longer deny is true.

It will take the artist.


Why the artist?

The language of the arts is universal. It speaks to each human heart in its own dialect, in ways that touch and ignite precisely what is needed for that heart to open and bloom.   The arts hold the key that unlocks the human soul, long held in myopic confinement by the logical eloquence – and dominance – of our rational minds.

Ever willing to affirm Descartes’ interminable delusion, the world’s developed nations are now awakening to a new realization of unparalleled importance:  The unquestioned belief that the human mind alone can solve our most intractable challenges is a delusion. Most forward-thinking futurists now believe that the genius of the human mind, extraordinary and illuminating though it is, must be tempered and infused with the wisdom of the human heart. And what domain touches the human heart most effectively, efficiently and powerfully?

The arts. The multi-dimensional, multi-sensory, non-linear and immersive experiences that only the arts can deliver.

The arts – especially when created with life-enhancing intentions – provide a direct connection to that part of us that makes us distinctly human. The generosity of compassion, the poignancy of presence, the interplay of our interdependency; the tender courage of our vulnerability and the shared concern for the common good. These can be best elicited through the domain of the arts.

Neuroscientist Dacher Keltner’s research describes these distinctly human traits as ‘hard-wired’ in the anatomy of our brains. When awakened and utilized, these qualities strengthen our evolutionary capacities not only for surviving – but for increasing the chances that we as a species will thrive.

The arts are endowed with the unique power to transmit these kinds of experiences directly to our senses and to the very center of our consciousness.  Even more interestingly, the arts reach our awareness “under the radar”,  by impacting our subconscious –  from which so much of how we behave, relate, care for each other, and create meaning originates.


The Art Form that Reaches Our Subconscious Most Effectively

Of all the existing art forms, the art form that can most effectively alter our bio-chemistry, activate our neurotransmitters, and reduce stress and suffering associated with pain and trauma is the modality that can shift our vibrational field at the cellular level, activating waves of feeling within us. It’s what many refer to as “the universal language of emotion”, and of course that art form is music.  By generating waves of feeling within us, life-enhancing music and sound experiences can catalyze our vital, life-enhancing human traits in remarkable ways.

Now is not the time to invest in the belief that if we only had enough scientific research, technological breakthroughs, and symptomatic or reductionist strategies, we would finally be able to figure out how to create a better world, not to mention a more humane healthcare system.

Now is the time to be wholehearted and audacious. Now is the time to explore and integrate the compelling revelations about the kinds of intelligence from which we can benefit by integrating the wisdom in our “heart and gut brains”. Now is the time to expand boundaries and learn about the beneficial results of mindfulness, or the counter-intuitive wisdom of radically caring for our beloved, overworked professional caregivers before even thinking about patients.  Now is the time to use what author Daniel Pink calls our  ‘whole, new minds”.

When we honor all aspects of our humanness, we can thrive more harmoniously, care for one another more humanely and collaborate more cooperatively, all while staying grounded, pragmatic, and medically competent.  By even utilizing just a few ways to artfully honor the heart and soul components of our humanity in healthcare, we can learn to treat one another with greater compassion and soulfulness.  In a world where so much suffering, insensitivity, and chaos exists, we need what the arts – and the artists – can offer us so naturally: beauty, coherence, inspiration and awe, every day, as much as is feasible, in every part of our lives.

If you work in healthcare today, these needs are more immediate, more poignant, and more pressing than ever before. This is what Aesthetic Audio Systems’ programs have been created to address. We are dedicated to harnessing the astonishing power of music to create supportive fields of vibrational coherence that will resonate and awaken the highest intentions of the spaces in your institution, for a more effective and successful healthcare experience for all involved.

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My Journey: Learning to Apply the Film Scoring Art to Create “Alchemical Wisdom”™

As a composer for television and film for many years, I began to realize that the responsibility of the media composer was to create a musical ‘underscore’ that not only resonated with the characters, the scenes, the sounds, and the spoken words – it simultaneously needed to transport the viewer to a place of genuine emotional receptivity. In a culture that eschews being publically seen as vulnerable – but is also simultaneously yearning to experience the naturally occurring human emotions that reflect that vulnerability – this becomes an intriguing and fascinating challenge that is at the heart of what film scoring is all about.

When utilizing the aesthetic tools available as a creator of melodies, textures, rhythms, harmonies, and genres, it’s necessary for the composer to open himself to feeling deeply, to awaken his inherent sensitivity and empathy to experience the mysterious terrain of being heart-opened and emotionally vulnerable.  When this happens, it asks of the composer to be fully immersed in the ‘’medicine’ – the full affect- of the music, serving as the subliminal subtext in support of the plot, the acting, the visuals and other obvious components of the film.


The Life-Changing Story of Graceful Passages

After twenty-five years of scoring all kinds of projects, a dear friend, Michael Stillwater, invited me to collaborate on a project that might be a support for all those facing the challenges of the end of life process.   As we explored what creative approach might work, it became clear that we could utilize the complex and multi-dimensional art of film scoring to underscore authentic, tender, and poignant mentoring messages, spoken by some of the world’s most beloved humanitarian luminaries of our time. We sought to create a musically infused experience that could reduce the overwhelming fears that arose when the possibility of no longer surviving became a distinct possibility. The film scoring art was used to elicit emotional, subconscious responses to these poignant messages spoken by some of the world’s “wisdom-keepers’ such as Thich Nath Hanh, Elisabeth Kubler Ross, Ram Das, and many others. Over the course of three years, a potent listening resource was released as a book and CD set entitled Graceful Passages: A Companion for Living and Dying.  

This work went on to receive global acclaim.  In only a few years, many leaders in the field started to recognize that Graceful Passages was one of the most powerful works of its kind. Since its release in 2001, it has touched the lives of nearly a million people worldwide, helping patients, family members and care providers find a calm place inside themselves where they would find the acceptance, compassion, and perspective to remember that we each are only here for a short while, never knowing when the time will come when we will be asked to cross the threshold of life and death.

We learned from thousands of people’s responses that there was something about the music that lessened the fear, opened the heart and inspired the soul to connect to its origins, remembering the place within that will never die. While these things are difficult to express in words, this phenomenon was reported to us over and over again for many years, as many patients, family members and care professionals starting playing this work, especially the instrumental music, to soothe the edges of their nerves and fears during this remarkably vulnerable and tender passage of life.


Alchemical Wisdom™ Giving Rise to Heart-Centered™ Music to Create Sonic Sanctuaries for Sacred Space™

Over time, it became clear to us what was happening.   When the spoken messages were removed from these music and word montages, qualities of awe, connection, acceptance and a sense of the Sacred emerged in the instrumental music that remained, After years of this phenomenon being communicated to us from all corners of the globe, we grew to realize that this music seemed to be providing people who were facing the challenges of the end of life process with what we referred to as “sonic sanctuaries for sacred space”.  The reports came in from health professionals everywhere that something truly astonishing seemed to be happening with Graceful Passages’ instrumental music.

The spoken word underscored with film score quality music was a listening modality that became known as “alchemical wisdom’. The alchemy that emerged between the spoken word and the music enabled the listener to listen to the wisdom  – infused with the emotional subtext – not only with one’s ears, but with one’s heart and soul as well. But when listening to the music without the words for which it was created, there was a deep spaciousness created by the absence of the spoken word. It seemed to enable the listener to feel what quantum physicists refer to as the “unified field’ – the field of awareness helps us feel connected with all things. But this ephemeral spaciousness also made it seem easier to engage in providing a healing presence, easier to focus on medical procedures and communicate meaningfully with others, all while maintaining an ability to be empathic, mindful, and heart-centered. Amidst the chaos and goings-on of life, something deeper was affirmed that strangely supported and eased people to engage in soulful, meaningful ways.

These instrumental, heart-centered musical tracks are among the many choices offered in Aesthetic Audio System’s musical programs, especially for our new programming that will be specifically designed for the contemplative healing spaces and multi-faith chapels that every hospital provides. Specifically emerging from the genesis of Graceful Passages, a spacious, contemplative musical style was born from underscoring heartfelt messages, subliminally supporting people to rest, breathe, sigh, connect with loved ones, and pray. This ‘heart-centered” musical modality doesn’t say to the listener – “listen to me!”. It says something entirely different, akin to… “Be still and listen to your quiet, small voice within – and know that all is well.”

If subliminal musical soundtracks can be created that could deepen, support, and inspire healing engagement and more humane experiences as these works have for so many people with such consistency, what else could the emotionally evocative art of film scoring achieve that could support the purposes of other spaces in the hospital?  We believe that these questions can lead us to fruitful explorations, explorations that we believe will lead us to potent discoveries about what the future of healthcare will sound like. We welcome your partnership in this exciting exploration.

To find out more about the musical strategies and resources Gary Malkin has created, you may download his heart-centered mindfulness music at If you’re interested in having Gary discuss Aesthetic Audio Solutions options for your institutions, call (858) 748 6060 or go to