Haemoglobin

"Oxygen transporter, life-source carrier.

Color to our blood, breath to our body."

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ELAR's Blog

First release date:  20.02.2020

Re-release: 26.02.2021

Can Music Heal You?

My scientific background often inspires me to write about vital processes that occur at the molecular level. This theme is a musical ode to the biological machine, hemoglobin (aka. haemoglobin), responsible for gifting us with the breath of life.

 

The spark of inspiration to write this piece came from something that happened to my grandmother. Two years ago, she suffered from an internal haemorrhage and was laying in a hospital bed, weak and mildly conscious. She had lost a lot of blood. We were all very worried. Meanwhile, I felt frustrated for being so far away without any way to comfort her. So, I sat down in the piano and began to compose, my favourite way to drain energy.

 

I believe in the healing power of music. Mainly because it can rewire our minds, enhance brain plasticity and affect our emotions. Sometimes, music brings back personal memories of places we have visited or of people that have shared special moments. Other times, even more profoundly, it can "universally" transport us to a state of peace and fundamental wellbeing without much thought.

 

While composing this theme, I try to let go of my thoughts and  visualise my grandmother. In the process, I discovered a melodic pattern to my liking that began in Eb. Soon enough, the melody was accompanied by a beautiful harmony that kept growing. Two more rhythmic patterns called my attention, and the piece was finished in a couple of sittings. Once I heard it through, I found it fascinating how I could correlate each part of the piece to a specific function in the cycle that hemoglobin undergoes in our body.

My idea was to send this composition to my grandmother, so that she could listen to it during her healing process. I am happy to know she is now perfectly healed. She is a true super-hero grandma and I am very proud of her.

Hemoglobin In Action

Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein found in red-blood cells. The heme has an active site that coordinates reactive species like oxygen and carbon dioxide. The heme's main function is to bring oxygen to our cells and secrete carbon dioxide from our body.

In brief, while in the lungs, the heme binds oxygen. Then, it circulates in our blood until it reaches cells within our body (tissue, organs, etc) and exchanges molecular oxygen with carbon dioxide, known as the oxygenation process. Finally, the heme travels back to the lungs to release carbon dioxide. The cycle is then repeated endlessly. Without this cycle, our bodies would literally suffocate in carbon dioxide.

Science Meets Music

This is how I think that the piece represents each part of the cycle:

 

1. The first part has a slow-motion like character. Imagine the heme waiting in the lungs and the electrons from the iron core patiently expecting to find molecules of di-oxygen. Oxygen undergoes a phase transfer from air and liquid form. Hence the slow motion build-up. The complete dissolution of oxygen in blood is effective only by means of hemoglobin as it has an impressive and effective mechanism for dissolving oxygen in blood. 

2. The second part of the piece engages a more elaborate melodic pattern. tt describes the moment the heme leaves the lungs and enter the circulatory system. Increasing in speed by the pumping of the heart, it is transported all around the body in a matter of seconds. 

3. Lastly, the heme meets the cells and performs the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. At this point, the cells can survive. Note: if you hear the re-mix version (see below) this exact process is represented by the bell-like sound effect. 

Hidden Details

There are two versions of the piece. A piano and a re-mix version both which are very similar, with some minor changes in harmony and melodic patterns. The first version of Haemoglobin came out about a year ago. In this release, I included a piano-solo version and re-mastered the older version to obtain better audio quality.

F.Y.I - I chose "Haemoglobin" instead of "Hemoglobin" because it adds a unique spelling that distinguishes it from other common song titles.

Haemoglobin.jpg

The Coverart

 

The cover art is an abstract representation of a red blood cell. The picture is a collection of approximately 50 single images of a single red blood cell, over-imposed to create some sort of optical illusion. The effect generates a bright center within the concave structure of the cell that reminds me of the active site where the exchange occurs.

 

Note: All cover arts are made by myself using Photoshop.

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Thank you for reading the blog!

ELAR