tones to melt and heal hardened hearts diffused on bicycles

tones to melt and heal hardened hearts diffused on bicycles is an innovative, participatory art experience developed by Matthew Ariaratnam, a Vancouver-based interdisciplinary sound artist, composer, listener and guitarist. Created with tones imbued with wishes to heal the world from people of all walks of life, the 37-minute sonic composition will be diffused on speakers during a public bike ride on September 9, 2023.

Ariaratnam invited participants to follow a short meditative score, recording a tone as they emerged from their experience. This unique process resulted in a collection of vulnerable, playful and highly personal recordings that document intimate, embodied moments. The people behind the sounds hail from a wide range of music and sound communities and open the door for listeners to explore some rarely heard but delightful sonic niches. Highlights include Vancouver’s Kettle Society Choir, field recordings of Pacific Spirit Park, and a gathering of vocal and instrumental performances that trace Ariaratnam’s musical friendships between Montreal, Calgary, Gibsons, Vancouver, and Victoria.

Matthew Ariaratnam’s composition carefully weaves these individual moments in time into an experience of community, reminding listeners of everything we hold in common through our care for the environment, our grievable lives, and our shared wish for healing.

This project is part of The Only Animal’s Artist Brigade.

tones to heal and melt hardened hearts diffused on bicycles


Meditate for 5 minutes
However you like
in any way you can

Imagine a tree casting a shadow on the ground
the light from the sun
diffusing the shadow
changing the shape of the darkness
warming a spot once cold

Take the feeling from your meditation
Play or sing one long tone*
Put all hope into the tone

This tone has a magic property
to melt the hardness of our hearts
in the face of crisis
climate, racial, housing
whatever you think the tone needs to heal

as needed

* Long and tone are open in this instance. How long is long? What is a tone? If you are playing a percussive or plucked instrument you can repeat the note. If you are playing electronics, you can use many kinds of sounds. Extended techniques are acceptable and encouraged. Please ask if you have any questions.
** You can repeat your tone as much as you wish. This is open and up to you.

optional audio score

artist statement

The piece creates one tone at a time. What happens when those sounds imbued with hope and healing are sent out into the world? If sound is a form of touch – what sound would you make to touch others?

If the land and ourselves are interconnected and in a sense, one being, I want to find a way to resonate us together. I want these tones to heal us, the human part, and search for a way to deal with the explicit despair of climate change. The earth is changing because of our actions. Our actions and current ideas of how the world must function are harming the earth which in turn also harms us. This self-harm is perpetuated by many motives. With this work I am trying to understand hope when faced with despair. To quote the American activist, Mariame Kaba, “hope is a discipline” and thankfully with discipline there is usually a practice to help guide us. This work is a form of a practice trying to understand hope as a discipline with members of the community.

I think we can make change through gentleness and through reimagining. Through discussion and through dreaming. Through sound and through music. I see this work as a way to spread healing to others through our sounds, through our dreaming, through our reimagining, and through our gentleness.

about the artist

Matthew Ariaratnam is an interdisciplinary sound artist, composer, guitarist, and listener based on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations – also known as Vancouver, BC. He creates sensory walks, writes dumbpop and chamber music, and frequently collaborates with choreographers, visual artists, and theatre-makers.

In 2022, he put out three recording projects: Sonic Divination, 4(trio), and Ambr Aria; performed at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival with CANABRAVA NOW and Littles; performed as a part of Dusk Meridian interpreting Keith Langergraber’s work through a collaboration with Vancouver New Music and Vancouver Art Gallery; had his score Tones to Melt and Heal Hardened Hearts featured by the Centre for Deep Listening as part of the project A Year of Deep Listening in honour of Pauline Oliveros; and worked with members of the Artist Bridge on the piece, In the Songbird Forest.

He holds an MFA from Simon Fraser University and a BMus in Music Composition from Wilfrid Laurier University.

tones to melt and heal hardened hearts
diffused on bicycles reading list

These are some books that I have been reading over the past few years that have influenced some of my ideas when thinking about this piece.

  1.  The Force of Non-Violence by Judith Butler
  2.  Post-Growth Living: For an Alternative Hedonism by Kate Soper
  3.  Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  4.  Gentrification is Inevitable and Other Lies by Leslie Kern
  5.  Universal Tonality: The Life and Music of William Parker by Cisco Bradley
  6.  Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia
  7.  Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice by Pauline Oliveros
  8.  What World is This? A Pandemic Phenomenology by Judith Butler

How to Record and Technical Help

Here are 4 ways you could record your tone and send it to us:

1) On your own with your own devices if you have recorded before
2) On our website with the recording widget via your browser
3) On your smartphone device
4) You can record in-person with Matthew. There will be two in-person recording sessions at the Murray Adaskin Salon in the Canadian Music Centre on March 4 and March 29 (CANCELLED). 

You can sign up on a form here:

Please submit your tones as a Wav or AIFF file to
Please send your tones by April 24, 2023

If you are recording on our website. You can record a maximum 2-minute tone. You may need to update your web browser and use Chrome or Firefox. Depending on your instrument, it’s best to get your microphone close to the instrument. Recording in a room with less echo is encouraged. For example, if you have a closet and can record in there, or maybe in a room that has drapes, curtains, and rugs. Or maybe you make a blanket fort and record in there!

If you are recording on your smartphone: A simple free app called Dolby On is quite good and you can record Wav files by toggling the lossless audio option in the settings. A link to their product can be found here.

You can also use any audio recorder that you find that works best for you, provided you can send WAV or AIFF files.

If your file size is too large to email you can use to send the file.

If you have any additional questions, please email Matthew at

We would like to thank Wen Wen Lu for her great illustrations. She is a multimedia artist interested in installation, sculpture, and painting; with dabblings in film, animation, book art, print, digital, and community engaged projects. Find out more about her work on her website.