Making Music With Your Brain and the Neurowear ‘Brain Disco’

Now that we are in the eye of the electronic music storm and have seen all the amazing things technology can do to alter and create music, what could possibly be next?  Maybe the answer is within our own heads?  Recently I read an article on Yahoo talking about progressive work that has been done with EEG’s and using brain data to create music.  Researching some of the projects, I found truly remarkable ones that are, dare I say … thought provoking!


In this article, , concert cellist, Katinka Kleijn plays a duet with music that is being transmitted from her own brain!!!

Below is a video of what it looks and sounds like, but first, let us realize what is happening.  Daniel Dehaan, her composer says the EGG she wears, “Reads these electrical impulses between neurons and the brain … which aren’t actually sound themselves but just signals.”  Dehaan then uses a program called Max/MSP to translate those signals into audio.  Dehaan does not assign these signals into instrumental sounds though. Instead they create an entirely unique sound.  Sometime though, because of the massive range in frequencies generated in our brains, no sound is possible.  Instead a vibration might be felt in our stomachs or chests!

Applying this means that we can actually hear a persons emotion and physical state!!!  For example, increased activity in the 8 to 13 hertz can suggest someone feels relaxed but aware, while anywhere above that implies alertness, agitation, tenseness, or fear. Colored spotlights during Kleijn’s performances also indicate the strengths of her four affective states: meditation (blue), engagement (green), excitement (yellow), and frustration (red).

Enter Katinka’s brain and listen to her perform with her cello!



Now let us talk about “The Experience Helmet!”

Here’s the article! –




This motorcycle-looking helmet above is actually a high tech device that allows you to listen to music produced by your own brain waves!  Using EEG technology, The Experience Helmet translates the wearer’s neural processes into sound in real time, creating an “audible reflection of one’s personal experience of the present moment,” according to its creator, London-based artist Aiste Noreikaite.

Aiste is one of many these days who are inspired by Buddhist meditation practices and self awareness.  It is what inspired her when creating this helmet.  First, she took a helmet apart and drilled an EEG wireless headset and headphones inside. Then, she searched for the best way to turn the data from the headset into sound, or “numbers into music,” finally settling on pure electronic signals to represent brainwaves.

With a meter programmed to measure attentiveness, the sounds inside her helmet becomes higher when users have clear minds, and faster and more rhythmic when they focus on particular subjects.  There may also be hidden benefits to wearing The Experience Helmet. Writes Noreikaite, “I programmed sound frequencies a little bit differently in left and right sides so when they are heard together they produce a third frequency which can be heard just inside of our heads.” The ghost frequency vibrates at 10Hz, equivalent to the Alpha brainwaves that occur in states of light meditation, and may have the ability to influence them in wearers. “User hears the sound that is being generated by his brainwaves. The brainwaves recognize themselves in that sound and reacts to it very positively, then this is looped back to them via sound again and again.” Many wearers of The Experience Helmet, in fact, told Noreikaite that they felt better after putting the helmet on.

To me this is extraordinary.  Putting this helmet on to meditate and calm yourself down through your own musical journey seems like the most productive way of meditating!  To look back at yourself through your own brain’s music and realize what you are feeling is groundbreaking for people who have trouble realizing their own emotional states; which I must say is the majority of us! Instead of using something as fooling as a mood ring, the Experience Helmet or a concept like it, would allow us to firmly understand how we feel in the present moment!


Finally, to keep all us DJ’s in line, let us look at the Brain Disco!

Here’s the article! –




Brain Disco is an experiment/game created by Neurowear and Qosmo, where brainwave sensors are hooked up to audience members who listen to DJ’s perform.  As they go about their set the sensors measure their “attention”.   If the average attention value remains less than a given threshold, DJ gets kicked out. The first Brain Disco experiment has been held at Gallery KATA Ebisu in July 26.

Brain Disco Regulations:
1. Each DJ has 10 minutes to warm up the dance floor.
2. Each DJ starts with 60 “Groove Points”(If you are familiar with RPGs,think of a Groove Point, or GP as a “Hit Point” or “Life Point”).
3. 1GP is equivalent to 1 second, which means if you have 60 GP, you can play at least 1 minute no matter how you play.
4. If the average “attention” value measured with brain wave sensors is less than a given threshold (50, for example), GP is deducted by 1. Otherwise, the DJ earns 1GP.
5. If a DJ loses all GPs, then their set is canceled.
6. The Threshold and other parameters are subject to change.


I feel like this is an amazing concept and would love to see it be expanded!  If DJ’s could somehow always see the “attention” levels of the audience, maybe they would be better DJ’s?  Maybe not?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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