Sunday, January 21, 2018

USA: What's Going On Inside A Musicians Brain

What's Going On Inside A Musicians Brain

Musican/Neuroscientist Dave Soldier and Composer/Computer-Musician Brad Garton
Have An Idea On Their New CD

Dave Soldier and Brad Garton at
Red Bull Music Academy

 talk about their Brainwave Music Project, and try our hand at making music with our brainwaves.

Click to listen


Label: Mulatta 038
Release Date: JANUARY 5, 2018
UPC Code: 19192489586
Website Links:


Featured Artists
Margaret Lancaster
Dan Trueman
Terry Pender
William Hooker

1 Bible School Vacation (feat. Margaret Lancaster, flute & EEG)
2 Taco Tuesday (feat. Margaret Lancaster, flute & EEG)
3 Harajuku Hiccup (feat. Margaret Lancaster, flute & EEG)
4 Serotonin (feat. Dan Trueman, Hardanger fiddle & EEG
5 Adrenaline (feat. Dan Trueman, Hardanger fiddle & EEG)
6 Dopamine (feat. Dan Trueman, Hardanger fiddle & EEG)
7 Histamine (feat. Dan Trueman, Hardanger fiddle & EEG)
8 Amygdala (feat. Terry Pender, mandolin & EEG)
9 Insula (feat. Terry Pender, mandolin & EEG)
10 Cerebellum (feat. Terry Pender, mandolin & EEG)
11 The Wheels (feat. William Hooker, drums & EEG)
12 Initiates (feat. William Hooker, drums & EEG)
13 Rational Entities (feat. William Hooker, drums & EEG)
14 The Wild (feat. William Hooker, drums & EEG)

In 2008, musican/neuroscientist Dave Soldier approached composer/computer-musician Brad Garton with an idea.  Dave had become aware of fairly inexpensive EEG (electroencephalograph) sensors that could measure the electrical output of the brain ("brainwaves").  Working with these sensors over the past ten years, Brad and Dave developed a set of software tools that could generate music using this brainwave data.

As they worked out the system, they have played concerts at rock festivals (Red Bull Festival), radio stations (WFMU), the New York City Opera, colleges (City College, Cornell University), museums (the Guggenheim and Rubin Museums) and even an hour long PBS TV special produced by WHYY. In addition to concerts at City College and Cornell University, they are probably the only avant garde music act to be invited to perform at the National Institutes of Health, where they were invited by the graduate students.

In shows, typically Dave gives a lecture with slides on the brain’s cortical activity and how it senses and produces rhythm, and Brad explains how the waves recorded from the cortex are translated to music. Then they use their own brainwaves or those of guest musicians to “compose” in real time, generally with the musicians improvising on their instruments. An interesting question is if the music is “composed” if it is not done intentionally: the brain always controls music making, but in this case it can create music even when asleep or unconcious.

The latest version of these tools were used to produce this CD and the software used will soon be freely avaialable. This uses a process of "data sonification”, or the translation of a stream of numbers into musical production
and control.  The raw data is used to trigger and modify synthetic digital musical instruments.

The EEG signal is made by the neural activity detected by the sensors, but does not reveal any high-level concepts or ideas that are being *thought* (although the brain activity responds to sensory inputs like the touch of the drumhead and sound and activates movements, and is modulated by mental states).  Dave and Brad decided to exploit this feature by creating a feedback loop of sorts, with musicians being invited to play along 'with themselves',
generating music with brainwaves resulting from the process of generating that music.

For this first complete recording of “The Brainwave Music Project”, four soloists were invited to take part in the sessions. Each plays a solo instrument, and the instruments themselves each come laden with a rich musical tradition.  The hardanger fiddle (Dan Trueman), the solo flute (Margaret Lancaster), the mandolin (Terry Pender) and the trap drums (William Hooker) all represent long social and cultural histories.  This awareness, as well as the awareness of what and how the musicians are playing, is certainly a part of the brainwave data used to build the synthetic accompaniment for each piece.

Available From:

Amazon • CDBaby • iTunes

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