Why this Canto-pop song can help you sleep better (it's the tuning forks)

Do tuning forks have any place in a pop song? Yes, says Hong Kong singer-songwriter Jocelyn Chan Ming Hei — her song Sound of Silence, which recently topped city public broadcaster RTHK’s pop song rankings, is filled with soothing vibes from the unexpected instrument. The music video, released in July, has more than 320,000 views on YouTube.

Chan co-composed the hit with Hong Kong singer Cousin Fung after she earned an online qualification as a tuning forks therapy practitioner from the Sound Healing Academy in Cornwall in the UK. The song was developed to help people sleep better.

“It’s the first song in the history of Canto-pop to have music therapy elements,” Chan says, adding she plans to release an album with six such songs next year.

The history graduate from the University of Southern California in the United States developed an interest in music therapy after suffering from insomnia and anxiety.


The 29-year-old is undertaking a one-year diploma in sound healing from the Sound Healing Academy to further her skills. In January, she set up a private practice, Atlantis Sound Healing, in Hong Kong and she holds talks in schools and social centres.

The human body and psyche are like musical instruments that need to be tuned after prolonged use, Chan says.

“Greek mathematician Pythagoras used maths calculations to design a musical scale which mimics the frequencies found in nature for healing,” she says. “It involved physics, concepts of frequencies, vibrations and resonance. According to the law of physics, anything that vibrates generates frequencies. The human body has our own frequencies generated by our minutely vibrating cells.

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“Sound healing works by using vibrating tools, like crystal or copper singing bowls or tuning forks, to create healing frequencies that resonate with and positively affect the frequencies of individuals,” she says, adding different instruments can generate different frequencies to best address a person’s needs.

A person can also use their own voice as a healing vibration-generating tool.

“For example, when people feel tense and find it hard to breathe, they can try to sing the vowel ‘a’ for long stretches. They will feel vibrations in the chest and a sense of relief afterwards.”

Chan, the elder daughter of Hong Kong lyricist and music producer Keith Chan Siu Kei and celebrated DJ Natalie Wong, decided to pursue a career in music after seeing its power during a school trip to Guangzhou, in mainland China, to teach students English.

“But the students were not welcoming us,” she recalls. “They refused to join in activities we prepared for them. We decided to give up our lesson plan and just teach them to sing Oasis’ song Wonderwall. They had no idea what the lyrics were about. but their attitude took an about-turn. Their indifference turned to enthusiasm. They burst out singing loudly and happily.

“That’s when I wanted to pursue songwriting. It’s more about making meaningful music that can have an impact on people than making pop music.”

Her debut album Adultlescence, in which she wrote or co-wrote all 10 songs, was released in 2016. She wrote debut song October Snow in 2015 when she was studying performance and songwriting at the London Centre of Contemporary Music in the UK.

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“I was very lost then as my parents, especially my dad, objected to me pursuing such a career. The song reflects my state of loss.”

Her father only relented in 2015 when the movie A Journey through Time with Anthony used a song she composed after she recommended her works to industry veterans.

“Since birth, my parents had nurtured and supported my musical pursuits. So I was quite shocked when they disapproved,” she says. “My dad told me I am not good enough to pursue such a career. He said it from the perspective of an agent or music producer … because he was afraid that I could not take the stress in the industry.”

In response, Chan pushed herself to complete university in three years instead of four to be able to go to the UK for a year of further music studies. Former pop singer Gigi Leung Wing Kei helped her persuade her dad to allow this.

“I made a pledge to my parents then that I would give up this career if I couldn’t attain any results in a year.”


While Chan says she has since won her parents’ support through sheer willpower and persistence, it’s very stressful to work under the shadow of her illustrious father.

“Many people expect me to be naturally exceptional,” she says. “I have to do much better than ‘exceptional’ to get others’ recognition. I have to set my standard higher. But I never compare myself to my dad, as the entertainment industry in his time was different than [in] mine.”

The young star is passionate about taking steps to preserve her health, and that of the environment. For stress relief, Chan meditates, does Thai boxing, goes camping — and plays with her dog and nine adopted cats.

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“I also do Chinese martial arts — wing chun. My mind is in absolute quietude when I practise my moves.”

She uses her fame to promote sustainability. The brand ambassador for natural cosmetics brand Fancl is a vegetarian who quit eating meat in 2011 out of concerns for the environment. “I have made a pledge to wear only sustainably produced clothing … as the entertainment industry is infamous for being wasteful.

“For the music video of Bliss, I went to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to shoot images of glaciers, a salt lake and desert, to make people more aware of such fast-disappearing pristine landscapes before it is too late.”

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.


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