Monday, September 24, 2012

$1.4 Million for Scientists to Develop Brainwave-Powered Music

Nick Clayton/Wall Street Journal

The idea of a computer creating music from emotions read from your brainwaves could be seen as exciting or a bit creepy. But such a system could be used to help with depression or in new forms of computer games and entertainment by using algorithms that can understand moods and respond musically.

Plymouth University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) and the Cybernetics Research Group at the University of Reading, have been awarded £880,000 ($1.4 million) by the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to look at a “Brain-Computer Interface for Monitoring and Inducing Affective States,” according to The Next Web.
The system works by analysing brain activity in a listener and searching for emotional indicators. Using that information and a database of music, the computer generates new sounds that can alter emotions.
Composer, team leader and professor from Plymouth University Eduardo Miranda explains:
“Music, probably the most sophisticated symbolic system evolved for human expression, is becoming increasingly important in probing intelligence, both natural and artificial, because of its powerful ability to convey emotions. 
“The big question that we are addressing is the impact of music on human development, from the advancement of our understanding of the brain to its contribution to the development of Artificial Intelligence. We hope that this understanding will lead to new technologies and new ways to compose music.”
According to Wired, the first fruits of the research project will be heard in at a concert February. Dr. Miranda is currently deconstructing Beethoven’s “7th Symphony”. This will form the basis for the “Symphony of Minds Listening.” 
Once Beethoven’s symphony is broken down, Dr Miranda will reinterpret the music to reflect the brain activity of three different minds listening to Beethoven’s music — a classic ballerina, a Gulf War veteran and Dr Miranda himself. The volunteers have each undergone functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans as they listened to the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony to produce an ‘emotional’ response to which Miranda will reapply the broken down elements of Beethoven’s 7th.
“Some of the different compositions of Symphony of Minds Listening may bear more resemblance to the original Beethoven movement than others — but each of them will be a very different, unique interpretation of the original piece.”

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