A song to stop the spread

Engineering professor writes “Time, Space, People, Place” — a reggae-inspired tune for the times

July 17, 2020

A new song produced by engineering professor Michael Rayo puts a reggae twist on an important public health message. And it all started with a simple four-word rhyme devised by Senior Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Epidemiology Bill Miller.

Miller’s memorable motto, “Time, space, people, place,” can help people remember how to stay safe and physically distant amid COVID-19. The rhyme has been featured several places, including on NPR and in The Washington Post.

“Is it wrong to wish this could get turned into a song?” infectious disease epidemiologist Robert Orellana, a two-time alum of the College of Public Health, commented on Twitter in June.

twitter screenshot

Rayo, also a professor of health and rehabilitation sciences at the College of Medicine, saw the comment and immediately had a burst of creative inspiration.

“I heard the melody right away, starting plunking down verses and ended up writing it in an afternoon,” said Rayo, who before his MS and PhD earned dual bachelor’s degrees in music performance and chemical engineering. He primarily plays trumpet, but also sings and dabbles in guitar, ukulele, piano and drums. He’s also put his musical ear to his engineering work, leading efforts to improve and streamline auditory cues of medical alarms in hospitals. 

Rayo’s longtime friend, former bandmate and local music producer Bill Patterson of Wet Sounds Music, produced “Time Space People Place” – a song the pair described as a mix between Bob Marley and Jason Mraz — “a combination of energy and playfulness.”

“I read Bill Miller’s tweet about his rhyme and I felt compelled to write the song, because there is still a lot of confusion in our state and in the country about what we need to do to stay safe in the pandemic,” Rayo said. “We all want to get back a semblance of normal, and these four words (and a mask!) can really help.”

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About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond.  The College's divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy.   It is ranked 19th among all colleges of public health in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report, and also includes the top 7-ranked MHA degree program.  The College provides leadership and expertise for Ohio and the world through its Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Evaluation Studies (HOPES) and Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP).