Biology & Nature

Hidden Music includes numerous projects and collaborations revealing musical patterns in biological and natural processes. A selection of outputs is presented below.

Crystals (2015) is the translation of salt crystallisation into activity across a piano keyboard, with growth on the left and right of the screen systematically translated into low and high notes respectively. The height on the screen is (inversely) translated to note velocity.
Video and consultation Professor Simon Park (University of Surrey)

Crystals (2015)

Dark Shards (2015) employs a similar translation system to Crystals, and in this case the particular crystallising choreography produces a more angular motivic language.
Video and consultation Professor Simon Park (University of Surrey)

Dark Shards (2015)

Head Music (2020) Selen Atasoy and a team of researchers at the University of Oxford, have been revealing the harmonic patterns of human brain activity using Fourier analysis. This is analogous to the harmonic analysis of a complex sound, or the drawbars of an organ. These “connectome harmonics of brain activity at rest match harmonic wave patterns of certain frequencies” and are excited and transformed by changes in brain state, like a complex musical instrument. We have been working together to sonify these harmonics. The example below reveals harmonic changes (sliced across the piano keyboard) for a subject under placebo, and then under the influence of LSD, where the upper melodic figuration is transformed.
Collaborators:Dr Selen Atasoy, Prof Morten Kringelbach (University of Oxford), Phelan Kane (Programming support)

Atasoy, S., Donnelly, I. & Pearson, J. Human brain networks function in connectome-specific harmonic waves. Nat Commun 7, 10340 (2016)

Head Music – Subject 12 Connectome (2020)

ACTG (2015) is a simple translation of the 4 DNA codes A, C, T & G from ASCII to MIDI. All 64 3-unit codon permutations are presented. This technique has been adopted in my more conventional compositional work, but also engaged with significantly in the Covid Listening Project.

Musical Culture (2017) Dr Kontanze Hild (University of Surrey) researches micro bacteria and their resistance to antibiotics. Here the growth rates of bacteria in response to antibiotic exposure are translated into pitch classes over time. The contrapuntal shifts and additions of lines creates surprising but logical harmonic shifts, with many inspirations for ‘conventional’ composition.

Outbreak (2015) translates into musical motifs of the daily number of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea (24th March 2014 to 5th January 2015). Each range of cases triggers a musical motif systematically.
Missing data is left as silence.
Collaborators: Anna Tanczos (video)

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