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Not With The Band: Brainwave Music? Do We Really Need It?


EEG song

Everyone knows that the human brain is a very complex organ, with billions of interconnected neurons, each interaction emitting a very small electrical discharge. An electroencephalography (EEG) can measure the activity of hundreds of thousands of these discharges, aggregated into waves. Several companies (such as NeuroSky, Emotiv Systems,…) have developed Brain-Computer Interfaces for consumer product applications. A few years ago, to get an EEG, you had to go to a medical center, apply a conductive gel between the sensors and your head, and it was quite complicated and expensive. These new technologies allow low cost EEG with inexpensive dry sensors and have pushed their use way beyond the medical world: artists are now using this brain-wave measuring devices to create music!

According to this article in Noisey, it all begins with a thought, then the creativity can be measured as EEG technology is able to translate brainwaves into sonic soundscapes. Noisey has posted ten examples of these creative EEG compositions, and I have listened to most of them, but to tell you the truth, none of them sound like a hit! The best parts are created when these brainwaves sounds are mixed with real instruments, because at best, these brainwaves are just an amplified ommmmmm people do during a yoga class. I don’t buy any of that as interesting music.

If you are not sure to understand how they do that, this guy on another website actually explains this complex technology… In his case, different ‘instruments’ can be produced, each one being controlled by a different type of brainwaves (alpha, beta, delta, gamma,…) as each one has a different frequency. He even proposes anyone to do it, to transform brainwaves into sound vibrations at home, and it will only cost you $1,880 (he gives all the detail of the required material here). And then what? This much money to hear this harp-like random notes, this elevator ambient sound?

This seems to be a new trend, I found many websites talking about it, and many projects around this brainwave music themes, here is one from Columbia University, here is the Brainwave Music Lab, here is Soundstrue, Brainwave music has even invaded… Why this sudden interest? Just because we have the technology? Plus some people even pretend these ambient soundscapes can be used as therapy and clinics all over the world offer expensive EEG treatments, but there are good reasons to be skeptical, as this awfully sounds new age medicine/scientology/Deepak Chopra, backed up with about zero scientific evidence… But this kind of stuff unfortunately always sells.



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