Sound of Mind and Body

This collaboration by Bill Coleman and Gordon Monahan uses brainwave sensing technology to produce sound, music, and movement. An EEG interface worn by dancer-choreographer Coleman sends data to several Max/MSP software patches in real-time. As Coleman shifts through various states of mental and physical concentration and movement, he is able to produce and control alpha-brainwaves while dancing. He uses these alpha waves in conjunction with Monahan’s software manipulations, to produce various responses in musical instruments such as piano and percussion, to control the fading of stage lights, and to control sound spatialization and audio processing, all in real-time. Monahan simultaneously controls several Max/MSP software patches on stage that harness Coleman’s brain signals to sculpt soundwaves, light, instrumental composition and kinetic actions into a progressively layered multi-media artwork.

Historical note:

This piece follows in the tradition of brainwave music composition pioneered by Alvin Lucier, David Rosenboom, Richard Teitelbaum, and others, beginning in the 1960s. In fact, the history of brainwaves and sound reproduction dates back to 1928, when the British scientist Edgar Adrian (1889–1977) successfully sonified human brainwaves (EEG) in laboratory experiments.

Performers: Bill Coleman, Gordon Monahan
Software Design and Interfacing: Gordon Monahan
Choreography: Bill Coleman
Rehearsal Coach: Kenny Pearl

First performance: Mois Multi, Recto-Verso, Quebec City, February 2020