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Category Archives: music

Losing the ability to walk, talk, or even move a finger no longer precludes your ability to make music.  Planet Harmony's Amanda Legros explains the Brain Computer Music Interface or BCMI, a tool that translates pure thought into pure sound.

Amanda Legros: [PIANO MUSIC] You are listening to a patient who is bound to a wheelchair and paralyzed from the neck down produce sound… through pure thought.

This unlikely musician can’t move his fingers across a keyboard but he can think those notes. His thoughts are then processed through a skullcap spiked with sensors that gauge mental activity.

A new technology developed by Brazilian composer and computer-music specialist Eduardo Miranda allows patients with neuromuscular disabilities the chance to play and compose music with thought alone.

Miranda and computer scientists at the University of Essex have collaborated to develop a brain-computer musical interface or BCMI. They used a cheap and inexpensive form of brain scan called electroencephalography, also known as EEG. The EEG cap picks up faint neural signals from the brain. It then translates these neural impulses into musical notes.

But just like people who use electrically implanted prosthetic limbs, this technology takes practice.

This is a virtuoso of BCMI. A man sits motionless- a skull cap on his head with wires flowing out, that go through a set of computers, which are finally connected to an old wooden piano.

Miranda directs the man to change the tempo: “If he wants change it, he can change it.” And without moving a finger.  [PIANO MUSIC]

Miranda and his team hope to continue improving the ability for people with disabilities to make their mind play melodies. He has been trying to develop a way to create music using brain waves for a decade. His research to hone BCMI is motivated by the limitations of patients suffering from paralysis. The challenges of neuromuscular disabilities go far beyond not being able to move. There is a loss of control and independence. And trials with patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's have shown that music therapy can actually delay the progression of those illnesses.

This technology gives form to the old saying having a song stuck in your head.

Amanda Legros BCMI.mp3 1.9 MB

Sound designer, Diego Stocco, blew open the trees-are-musical world with his seminal work, Music from a Tree. It’s a sound experiment that asks the question: what if instead of playing instruments made out of wood, we went straight to the source? And lucky for us the answer sounds amazing. I spoke with Diego last year and he explained his process for finessing an incredible range of sounds from an old olive tree in his backyard. You can hear that explanation in our episode, Hip Hop and Tree Music.

Now the sonic explorer is back, with a bite sized version of tree music and another nature-inspired audio treat. I just got this email from Diego:

"It’s been a while since our last e-mail, I thought to send you the links of a couple of works I recently did, both involves nature. After "Music from a Tree" I tried also the smaller scale and I did "Music from a Bonsai" : ) Just yesterday I posted a new video, "Wind Light Trees and Piano" this one happened in a very spontaneous way, it was a windy day and I felt inspired by all the sounds that were happening in my backyard. It’s called, it’s an abstract piece. I hope you’ll like them!"

Amal Bennett

I just saw Michael Jackson’s This Is It- an amazing film with a lot of great behind the scenes footage from Jackson’s concert tour.  I went to a matinee show this week after class and was a little surprised to find myself alone in the theatre.  But there are definitely benefits to having a “private screening.” I not only sang out loud to some classics, like “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” but I also stretched out into the aisles to practice my moon walk, spins and pelvic thrusts. The only time I paused was when the custodian walked through the movie. After he left, I started jamming again.
During the movie, I discovered that Jackson wrote an environmentally- conscious song called the “Earth Song.”  I always knew Jackson wrote socially-conscious music like “Man in the Mirror” and “We Are The World.” However, I was pleasantly surprised to here him sing about drought and deforestation.   I was puzzled that I had never heard the song but apparently the song was not initially released in America. Nevertheless, it remains Jackson’s best selling song in Britain. Jackson was definitely an inconvenient truth, 13 years back.
Check out his epic music video!!!

Photo by Ben Heine

Hip-Hop and environmental action. Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta combine both, so listen up. And also; using trees for music. We owe a lot of our music to wood: the bodies of guitars and violins, the keys of a marimba, drumsticks and, of course, those clarinets and other woodwinds. Sound designer Diego Stocco decided to go straight to the source and play a tree itself, for his project, aptly titled, “Music from a Tree.” All the sounds that you’ll hear come from an old olive tree behind his house in Burbank, California.

Diego Stocco is at it again, shrinking his technique to fit “Music from a Bansai”

Diego Stocco – Music From A Bonsai –

PILOT TREE 3.10.mp3 28.1 MB