The Power of the Mind

Music stirs the most intense emotions in everyone. Different emotions certainly – happiness, sadness, wistfulness, excitement or occasionally boredom. And as we all know from discussing the topic with friends, (Westlife or Boyzone? Bach or Wagner? Opera or Heavy Metal??) we feel these emotions very intensely. Different music does it for different people. But how about when the music IS the emotions? That’s what the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona have been looking at recently resulting in the premiere of music played using only the power of the performer’s brainwaves translated into sound. The Multimodal Brain Orchestra is the creation of the Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS) group at the University and uses some of the technology of an EEG brain scan to control the sound.

OK, it’s clever. But given that the sounds are synthesised and the outcome is based on the ability of the ‘players’ to react to little dots on a screen, isn’t it more like the Krypton Factor than a musical concert? It seems to me that although the emotions and the brain are key to the success of this performance, the result must be a sterile and scientific sound, entirely devoid of the little nuances and lyricism which makes music speak to our hearts.