Data Sonification Events

Bloodlines Fabrica Vitae Tour in London

Bloodlines installation in London this Thursday 27 February, 7pm

Fabrica Vitae Website Launch | Thursday 27 February,7pm


Music Theory

PulseWipe: Pulse Prediction in the Weekly Wipe Theme Tune

Have you noticed the music of Charlie’s Brooker Weekly Wipe?

It’s a lovely theme by one Nathan Fake which captures the perfectly appropriate ‘twisted newsiness’ vibe. Take a listen.

There’s a little moment at the end of the theme that seems to pull the auditory carpet from under your ears. (at around 0:26).

What’s going on?

Well, we humans are excellent at gleaning a pulse from a piece of music, that’s to say a time subdivision which a sufficient number of important musical events satisfies. Our sense of pulse is related to how we might clap or tap our feet along to music, it’s based on mathematical principles of prediction but for many of us it’s a perfectly natural, innate skill.

Now a pulse can be further split into various levels of ‘subdivision’, and pulses may also be grouped in at various ‘higher levels’ of rhythmic organization given rise to the phenomena ‘meter’, ‘beat groups’ and so on.

Our ability to group (and regroup) rhythmic events can be exploited for expressive gain and/or musical surprise.

In Weekly Wipe, there is a pulse sensation of 192pm grouped in 3s (1, 2, 3) with hihats occurring on beats 2 and 3 and a repeating melodic motif, that splits these 3 beats into 6. So we can see the melody group as cycles of 6 beats, with an underlying pulse of 3 sets of 2-subdivisions (see Pulse Perception A in the top portion of the diagram).
Pulse Predictions

What happens at 0:26 is that the melody suggests a different grouping of subdivisions. The 6 subdivisions (which were previously split as 3 sets of 2), is regrouped into 2 sets of 3. (See Pulse Perception B on the lower portion of the diagram).

It sounds disruptive because our predictive faculties are forced to recalibrate soon after 0:27 when are expectations of another 2-subdivision group is extended to 3 members. The tempo doesn’t change (in fact the original accompaniment continues albeit quieter) but our experience has shifted.

Predictive Error

Sometimes regroupings can lead to tempo changes whereby the pulse is reinterpretated to make sense of the groupings. This is known as metric modulation. (See Elliot Carter, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks and many others for examples). The effect in Weekly Wipe is not a tempo shift but certainly surprising, particularly to find such a technique in a theme tune.

Now go away.






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Bloodlines feature in Times Higher Education

The Times Higher Education have run a well-written feature on the Bloodlines project.

Transplant inspires siblings’ Bloodlines project | News | Times Higher Education.

Electronic Works Installations Science

BloodLines in the Fabrica Vitae touring exhibition

Delighted to learn that the film version of Bloodlines will be featured in the Fabrica Vitae touring exhibition.

Fabrica Vitae is inspired by Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) and explores art and anatomy through the work of contemporary artists, scientists and thinkers. It will feature work from artists and scientists who are working together to re-imagine and extend the understanding of the human body.
More details will be available after Feb. 27th on
The first Fabrica Vitae exhibition will take place in Zakynthos, Greece in May 2014.

Electronic Works Research Science

Shine On You Crazy Bioluminescent Algae

Dr. Simon Park (my serial bio-art collaborator (like this) and creator of the amazing exploring the invisible site along with sound guru Professor Tony Myatt and I, have been exploring the interaction of sound/music and the Pyrocystis fusiformis bioluminescent algae. As you do. Here’s a sneaky pilot.

The Colour of Sound: Whale Song | Exploring The Invisible.

Music Theory Research

Filling in the gaps

This is a very interesting audio example (and site). The continuity illusion in optical illusions is perfectly paralleled in the sound world. Strangely it didn’t work the first time on me, and now does consistently. How was it for you? D d y u he r t e g ps?
The Continuity Illusion | Auditory Neuroscience.