Flutter app lets grieving teens mourn by composing songs

Developers of a new app designed for grieving youths hope that where words fail, music can provide an outlet for expression.

Creating songs can help people express 'the grief in our lives,' developer says

The prototype app Flutter allows people in stages of grief to compose their own emotional soundtracks by touching their screens to change chord progressions and add effects. (

Developers of a new app designed for grieving youths hope that where words fail, music can provide an outlet for expression.

In an interview with CBC Radio's Spark, Alex Rothera explained how his prototype app Flutter would allow users to compose their own instrumental pieces by swiping a touchscreen to manipulate subtle chord progressions and musical effects.

"You're composing music, but maybe you're not actually noticing that at first," Rothera told Spark host Nora Young.

Flutter, which is described as having an "exploratory" user experience, is in development with consultation from psychologists and councillors.

"The basic idea of Flutter is to use music, which is a highly expressive tool, to help us express something else — in this case, the grief in our lives," Rothera said.

He described the application as a "supportive technology" in an age where young people have become adept at sharing their lives via social media. Rothera added, however, that Flutter will not be "shareable in the traditional sense," in which users would post their compositions to social media.

"We're not making an app that can solve anything. We can't solve grief," he said. "You don't solve grief, you kind of move through it and it changes."

Rothera said he has already received supportive messages from grief volunteers who said young people who lost loved ones and have trouble expressing themselves may find Flutter useful.

"A lot of time when they avoid speaking, they're looking at their phone," he said. "To use that language of their phone and to give them an app just might help them a bit."

For the full interview, tune into CBC Radio's Spark, hosted by Nora Young, Sunday afternoon on CBC Radio One at 1:05/1:35 NT (4:05 PT) Wednesday afternoons on CBC Radio One at 2:05/2:35 NT.


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