I'll be playing two pieces of `neural music'. I perform with an instrument called the Biomuse. This takes electrical signals from body, signals that represent muscle tension, brain activity and eye tracking - in the form of EMG, EEG, and EOG signals - and transforms them into musical control signals, or MIDI signals to control synthesisers and computers.

Today I'll be performing with two arm bands. These are medical electrodes attached to my lower arms, and by tensing and relaxing the muscles in my arms I perform all the music.

This is an example of real-time performance with computers, synthesisers and an instrument like this - I like to call it an instrument rather than an interface. Although it can be thought of as a general purpose interface, my approach to working with the Biomuse has been to think of it like a new kind of musical instrument, or one that can turn my body into a musical instrument.

So rather than expecting the perfection of a generalised human-machine interface, in fact I prefer certain imperfections, certain glitches and funny things that it might do and play on those for musical material. This, to me, makes a connection with traditional musical instrument writing: I can use the old metaphors of musical instrument composition with this system. This is just my choice as a musician; the Biomuse can be used for many different things but it has been designed as a musical instrument

The first piece was written for a quadraphonic sound system, where I`m doing spatial sound panning with my arms. Unfortunately, today we'll only hear sound through the front speakers. So we'll lose some spatial quality, but hopefully we'll hear some of the other musical control that I exercise.

So the idea is that there is no pre-recorded material. There's no sequencer, no tape I'm playing along with. None of the music happens until I move and play it. The first piece is called Kagami - it's a Japanese word meaning `mirror'.

If that piece was the body as musical instrument, the next piece can be thought of as music for an invisible instrument. I think it's pretty clear which one in the first moments. I'm using a familiar musical metaphor as a point of departure for stretching people's expectations, to sort of drag them along on a `sonic ride' into the kinds of sounds that may not be possible with a real instrument that I'm using as the basis for this.


updated 1993