Hidden Music featured in the wonderful New Scientist Podcast
Sound Asleep was filmed by Jake Davison, Kate Wallace, Josephine Hannon and Megan Brown. They interviewed Professor Morten Kringelbach, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, and Professor Milton Mermikides, a composer guitarist and music theorist.
Jake explains: “The film is about the discovery of newly described changes in brain activity during sleep by Professor Kringelbach and his team, and how conversion of these findings to music could provide a useful diagnostic tool and possibly a therapeutic for sleep disorder treatment. We decided to cover this story because, in the age of smartphones, tablets and a 24/7 world, the quality of our sleep is decreasing and its importance is often overlooked. This new model of sleep brain activity developed by Professor Kringelbach and his team, as well as his collaboration with Professor Milton Mermikides to produce musical compositions from this data, will help us understand the mechanism of sleep better and therefore allow us to improve our own sleep. Both the ground-breaking nature of this research and the unorthodox method of utilising music to potentially unlock more discoveries seemed intriguing to us and something that needed to be heard about
A collaboration with Professor Morten Kringelbach, producing music based on his team’s research into the transitional networks involved during sleep is featured on BBC Radio 4’s weekly science podcase Inside Science and broadcast 28/3/19 at 16:30 and 21:00. Catch up here to listen And here for the wonderful research paper “Discovery of key whole-brain transitions and dynamics during human wakefulness and non-REM sleep” (Nature Comms)
The fabulous Qed conference happened again this year, to much acclaim. Very happy to work on the intro video again. (Here’s 2013‘s offering). This time Paul Zenon revealed his superstitions. Many of these are particularly inside jokes in the skeptic community, but I hope others are entertained. Fingers crossed.
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 www.fabrica-vitae.com.
The first Fabrica Vitae exhibition will take place in Zakynthos, Greece in May 2014.
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.
Announcing a 2-day symposium (November 15-16 2013 at University of Notre Dame in Central London) examining the process, philosophy and products of collaborations between scientists, musicians and performing artists. It’s hosted and organised by me and my sister Dr. Alex Mermikides, and is an output of the Chimera Network – and AHRC-supported project promoting Art/Sci research.
Bloodlines is a performance that traces the microscopic drama that plays out between a serious disease and medical treatment in the human body. It draws on its makers’ personal experience of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (which I developed in 2004) and its treatment through intensive chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a bone marrow transplant (donated by his sister Alex Mermikides, who is directing the performance). Also collaborating in the performance is Ann Van de Velde, a clinical haematologist involved in the care and treatment of blood disorders such as Leukaemia, and Anna Tanczos, a digital artist specialising in science communication.
‘…is the human body a soul-less, self-less object at the mercy of automatic internal processes…or is it a precious vessel containing a unique individual…?’
Sian Ede Art & Science. London and New York: Taurus Books, 2010. p.145
Bloodlines premiered at the Dana Centre on 18 July 2013. Future performances will be announced on the Events page.
Here’s a bootleg from the first performance.
I have a little place in Greece, on a lesser known corner of the Peloponnese, on a little beach with a derelict and rarely visited acropolis from which the islands of Ψιλι, Πλατεια and (just about) Σπετσεσ are visible.
It’s a magical (and for me painfully nostalgic) place where even when we eventually installed a phone (1996), modem (2006) and wi-fi (2013) seems eerily frozen (well baked) in time. This part of the world is home to some odd creatures: deafening cicada, scorpions, flying fish, swordfish and a plant with fruit that explode on the lightest touch.
One such unusual animal I have yet to (knowingly) see but I’ve been fasciated by its sound for years. It’s some kind of bird that emits a short tweet at intervals so regular that we use it as a metronome. (It sounds particularly good on beat 4 & in a bossa).
Here’s an unedited audio sample recorded on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 19:32
Notice how (separated by an unmeasured pause) there is a decent metronomic tempo established. Logic Pro X’s transient detector and beat mapping tools reveal that once a pulse is established it tends to stay within a couple of bpm. I’ve played with far worse time-keepers of the human species. Here are the numbers:
To get a feel for it, listen to the same unedited clip with a click track.
(non-flash) Metrobird with Click
Not bad at all. Here’s how it sounds (again completely unedited) in the context of a percussion groove.
(non-flash) Metrobird Groove
Does anyone know what type of bird it is, an what evolutionary pressures gave it such tight timing?
Total Guitar Issue 243 includes an article by me and the eminent microbiologist Dr. Simon Park (with whom I collaborated on the Microcosmos project and does many other beautiful things). Here we took a rather nasty set of strings from the Future Publishing offices and endeavoured to discover what constituted the invisible audience to our noodlings. Get it at all good newsagents. Wash your hands before and after.
Here’s a short educational video explaining some fundamental concepts of maths and tuning. Nice production by frequent collaborator Anna Tanczos of Sci-Comm Studios.
A collaboration with Mike Hall and Tom Hardwidge of Considered Creative brought about this super fun animation for the opening of the 2013 QED conference. Musically, I wanted to capture the relentless spirit of scientific exploration through the ages, so felt a perpetual motion chord sequence with the instruments changing in line with the ages. 50 points for identifying the sound when Cox throws the LHC switch.
The Institute of Neurology, UCL are looking for male professional classical guitarists or pianists, aged 30-65 to put through an MRI. A 2 hour study. I’ve done this sort of thing before and it’s bloody interesting. Expenses + anecdotes. Here are the details:
For pianists aged 30-65yrs: study using state of the art MRI techniques that aims to reveal how your brain achieves such high levels of motor performance.
* Neurologists and neuroscientists at the Institute of Neurology, London are currently recruiting for an imaging project in which they will study the neural signature of piano performance and excellence of fine finger control.
* This study uses a new fMRI analysis technique that allows us for the first time to accurately map individual fingers to different parts of the brain. This figure shows the activation of one the fingers in a region called the motor cortex in a healthy control … we do not know how this differs in pianists ….
* We ask for 2 hours of your time. We understand that we are ambitious to invite a group of individuals that are phenomenally busy with performance demands and teaching and hope to offer appointment times that are convenient for you. We can pay all travel costs and will also reveal all from the data we get in the study….
* We are also examining pianists that develop dystonia of the hand which will increase knowledge about this poorly understood condition and improve existing treatment techniques.
* Please contact Dr Anna Sadnicka if you are interested in hearing more about this study (0203 4488605 or email@example.com)
Here’s a video of the presentation at the British Library on March 12th 2012. In preparation for the lecture I was put in an MRI machine with a plastic fretboard (aka ruler) and improvised while UCL neuroscientist Dr. Joern Diedrichsen examined my brain’s working. For the event I performed to a video of my brain activity showing what bits lit up (technical) during improvisation.
On musical learning and Pat Martino.
And my brain on jazz.
For a dynamic list of Hidden Music projects click here.
Hidden Music:Sonic is a collection of electronic works using compositional systems to translate physical phenomena of the biological world into complex mesmeric soundscapes. Source material include the DNA, colour and shape of microbacterial colonies, the population of blood cells during leukaemia treatment, the shape of the coronal suture of the human skull, tree-rings, MRI scans of the human brain and the passage of molecules through the cell membrane.
Bonus material! Album purchase includes 6,000 word liner notes, detailing the philosophy and process behind these works.
So, as you know, the universe had a big bloody gaping bossa-nova-tune-about-the-fibonacci-series-shaped hole in it, so for the sake of humanity I most humbly filled it.
Since its composition, an imminent geek-pop song writing competition deadline was discovered, which spurred the song’s hurried 2-hour recording session, with the multi-talented and accommodating musical genius, Bridget – more known for her phenomenal eclectic guitar skills than her (equally impressive) vocal work, she did a perfect job of capturing that Astrud Gilbertian vibe, and added some cool melodic and harmonic ideas.
[Did it win? Well not in the traditional sense, not even in a post-modern sense. Speaking completely without bitterness, the whole competition was entirely rigged and a conspiracy designed since the birth of David Icke to try and upset me. No mention of the self-self-referencing, the clever Phi-Phib-Phibona-Fibonacci line, the cute idiomatic harmony- NOTHING.]
***EDIT! The previous bracketed paragraph is an (unintentional) house of lies. I did in fact discover in my junk folder, a nice message explaining that despite the song’s brilliance, it was out-brillianted by others (you can hear the winning song at the end of this podcast) and maybe we can do something in the future. Although my comments here were intended to amuse and to poke fun at only myself, it’s not true that they didn’t respond – so that inaccuracy is hereby rectified.***
Anyhow, I know YOU will get something out of it, because you’re one of the special chosen people who are smart and funny and brilliant, and have you been working out? – because I’m sorry if this is forward – but you ARE looking rather hot these days.
Here she is:
And the lyrics:
©2010 Milton Mermikides (no touchy)
Ph-Ph-Phi Fib –Fibo –Fibonacci- Fibonacci Series
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, (34, 55)
When you add the last 2 numbers together, (Given zero and 1)
A beautiful sequence emerges that goes on for ever. (quite a long time)
Did Fibonacci know that when,
You add n-1 to n
A pattern is born that’s found all around us?
Leaves, ferns, pineapples
The evidence is oversold
But we all love a rectangle of Gold. *(Gold) *[5/8 the way through the tune]
Phi- Fib –Fibo –Fibonacci- Fibonacci Series
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, (34, 55)
89. 144, 233, 377. Six hundred and ten
On and on (on an on)