The Brain Orchestra

via the BBC: The Multimodal Brain Orchestra performed its world premiere on Thursday.

Led by an “emotional conductor” and a traditional one, music and video change in time with the performers’ brain waves and heart rate. According to the work’s producer, the orchestra aims to “see what the brain can do without the body”.

The orchestra’s premiere performance closed the Science Beyond Fiction conference in Prague.

“Only recently we have come to appreciate more the tight coupling between mind, brain and body,” Paul Verschure, head of the project, told the audience. “But we can wonder what the mind and brain would be capable of if it would be directly interfaced to the world, bypassing the body.”

What do you think of the Multimodal Brain Orchestra’s brain music? Is it time to junk the old gear?

More on the Multimodal Brain Orchestra below.

About The Multimodal Brain Orchestra

The Multimodal Brain Orchestra – MBO – shows the raw creative abilities of the unmediated brain. It explores the question what the creative content is that a collection of brains can generate that are directly interfaced to the world, bypassing their bodies.

The Brain Orchestra members play virtual musical instruments through Brain Computer Interface – BCI – technology alone. In addition, an emotional conductor drives the affective content of a multi-modal composition by means of her physiological state.

For FET09, SPECS developed a piece called XMotion that will be performed by the Brain Orchestra.

Where Emotions refer to the passions that drive our actions in the real world, Xmotions are those affective states that can be generated and experienced by the unmediated brain that is immersed in and takes charge of the multi modal jungle in which it find itself.

In Xmotion the audience will witness how experience can be created through direct interfaces to the brain and the body that bypass the volitional body centred control that defines the common modus operandi of human existence. Where the brain requires a body to exist and operate in the real world, the body can become a burden when we want to transcend the borders of the omniverse of all possible physical realities and enter the noosphere of all possible mental states and subjective experiences. The brain can make this transition as exemplified in the creative content of dreams and art or the delusional states of psychosis. We can incorporate these states in the physical world and externalize them through direct brain interfaces, synthetic creative systems and interactive media.

MBO will demonstrate new concepts and technologies of interactive, affect-based self-generated media content, brain computer interfaces and autonomous synthetic music composition. The MBO XMotion performance is unique in a number of respects including:

1: the use of a multi-person orchestra to control virtual instruments through brain states
2: the integration of multi-person physiological states in an evolving synthetic audio-visual composition
3: the real-time control of the affective expression of a performance by the real-time physiological state of a human, the, so called, emotional conductor

6 thoughts on “The Brain Orchestra

  1. wow….. i cant believe their doing this earlier this year i actually was talking about this sorta or i mentioned seeing this pic online of somone guy wearing one these cap and photoshoped a synth in the background making it seemed it was hooked up to him and i was talking about how crazy it would be if they actually did or where able to do it a certain extent and of course they were just lik naw it wont happen anytime soon now look hahah i cant wait to see where this goes

  2. this is REALLY old news – medical researcher bob isenhart at uc irvine (dept of psychiatry) did this almost 30 years ago on a pdp-11/34 – first recording uci math professor bruce bennett playing his sax, then digitizing the sounds, then hooking up bruce by eeg and having his brainwaves play back the digitized recordings of his sax

    sounded about as good back then as it does here (ie., not very)

  3. your magazine may be interested in our Brain wave music project, similar in some ways, quite different in others: we are trying to both make good music – not easy, I like to say using EEGs to trigger music is like playing the piano with boxing gloves – and a didactic function to teach about brain function: see my website and particularly a TV show on WHYY at

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