Neuroserialist music: a term I may have just coined

Neuroserialist music: a term I may have just coined

Jenna Simeonov

Professor Eduardo Miranda at the University of Plymouth is conducting a really neat experiment. It involves having a subject wear a cap that measures brain waves, and those measurements are sent to a computer. The computer program then assigns various types of brainwave activity to a set musical phrase. In the room is a cellist who plays the small phrases as they appear, all based on the subject’s thoughts.

It’s a super cool way to start a larger experiment, one that may lead to the ability to respond to precise emotional states with precise sonic combinations. We may even be able to then reverse it, and choose specific sounds in order to induce very specific emotional states.

It’s kind of like a high-tech version of key characteristics that arose in the 18th- and 19th centuries (where E-flat major meant you were high class and f minor meant you were doomed). Except with this new discovery, we could eliminate any barriers in musical language (Western music harmony versus Indian raga scales, for example) and eventually cater a performance to be optimally affective to each individual person in the audience.

Science is so freaking cool. Watch the video at BBC News here.


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