Yoko K. Sen

How one musician is reimagining hospital sounds

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About Yoko K. Sen

Yoko K. Sen is an ambient electronic musician who is reimagining the sound experience in hospitals. Yoko had enjoyed years of success as a composer, engineer, and performer of ambient electronic music all around the world before health complications in 2014 required her to spend time in the hospital. While there, she was deeply disturbed by the noises she heard, and her experience made her realize the impact of sound on wellbeing and dignity. In the years that followed, Yoko was inspired to found Sen Sound, a social enterprise that aims to transform the soundscape in hospitals. Yoko has been a fellow at Halcyon Incubator, and she has served as an artist-in-residence at Johns Hopkins Sibley Innovation Hub and Stanford MedicineX. Her initiative, My Last Sound, was selected as a Top Idea by Open IDEO’s End of Life challenge.

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About This Talk

From the beep of cardiac monitors to the blare of alarms, hospitals are often jarring places to be from an auditory perspective. And for patients, the combined dissonant sounds can become overwhelming and even run antithetical to the healing process.

Yoko K. Sen, an ambient electronic musician, took an interest in the sound of hospitals after a period of being in and out of the hospital herself. As a patient, she was distressed by the loud and cacophonous noises she heard, and she felt as though these sounds were amplifying her feelings of fear and loss of agency. After regaining her health, she decided to dedicate her career to better understanding how sound impacts our emotions and to transforming the sound environment of hospitals. Tune in to Yoko’s 2018 TEDMED Talk to hear how she’s redesigning hospital sounds with the help and perspective of patients and clinicians who hear them every day.

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