Music and the Brain: Composing with the Electroencephalogram
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The field of brain-computer music interfaces have been expanding ever since the first development in the 1960s. Although many brain-computer music interfaces have been developed for the purpose of composing music, these systems have not been accessible to musicians due to the use of complex programming and signal processing mathematics. In addition, these systems have often focused on the process of composing music by allowing for specific note selection, or the formation of structure. While these systems are beneficial for those who cannot compose music the traditional way, such as those with motor disabilities, they do not offer a new compositional tool to those with full muscular control. This thesis aims to develop an interactive compositional tool using a brain-computer music interface, utilising methods and techniques that will make it accessible to musicians. An investigation into harnessing brainwaves for musical control has been explored, determining that the alpha and beta waves will be most appropriate for this system. Furthermore, a survey of current BCMI systems have been provided, concluding that the musification approach is best suited to harness the user’s alpha and beta waves. This approach allows for a set of musical rules to be implemented, as well as allowing for the creation of music that is representative of the user’s biological state. The system developed for this thesis used the alpha and beta waves to control parameters of a pre-composed composition. The composition featured elements which were aimed to elicit a change in the user’s brainwave frequency, such as a rise in pitch, rhythmic changes, and key changes. The frequency bands are mapped to the parameters of note velocity, chord changes, and key changes.
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