5 January 2022, 17:32
Meet the musicians who make music from mushrooms using bioelectricity and the natural resonance of the Earth.
Musical artist MycoLoco presents himself on his Bandcamp page with the phrase âI grow gourmet mushrooms and I connect them to synthesizersâ.
You’d be forgiven for stopping dead in front of the artist’s unusual biography, but we urge you to dive deeper.
MycoLoco, real name Noah Kalos, is a mycologist (biologist specializing in the science of fungi) based in North Carolina.
The artist describes his music as “a creative collaboration between humans, fungi and machines” which, in its most basic sense, is exactly that. To be able to “play” its gourmet mushrooms, MycoLoco uses a “biodata sonification module”, and connects the mushrooms to a synthesizer.
So let’s hear what it looks like …
Read more: About thyme! It is the world’s first green âpianoâ made from living plants.
From the followers and the number of views MycoLoco has racked up on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, it is clear that there is an audience for this new kind of music.
And he is not the only artist to join the mycological musical current.
Tarun Nayar, from Vancouver, grew up learning Indian classical music, which greatly inspired his own discovery of mushroom music.
âI learned that Indian classical music is strongly influenced by vibrations,â he said. Vice in a recent interview. He notes that his training in the genre helps him understand what “plants are trying to say.”
Nayar continues, âI use various techniques to harness the bioelectricity of plants and the natural resonance of the Earth that exceeds the audible spectrum of the human ear. “
âPlants do not themselves create music. I use the movement of water inside these plants as an electrical resistance. So when I plug in circuit cables to them, even small changes in said resistance due to the plant’s natural bioelectric charge show up as musical notes.
Read more: Meet the orchestra veg patch that brings chamber music back to its natural roots
John Cage and his mushroom love
American composer John Cage was not only one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, but he was also a big fan of mushrooms.
Cage was an enthusiastic amateur mycologist and even co-founded the New York Mycological Society.
On a trip to Italy to visit his friend and fellow composer Luciano Berio, Cage appeared in the Italian quiz Lascia or raddoppia. His specialty? You guessed it, the mushrooms. And his expertise in the field has earned him the jackpot of 5 million lire (historical equivalent of Â£ 3,000).
Cage was actually very close because of his favorite mushrooms, when a foraging trip took him to the hospital. He accidentally ingested poisonous hellebore, which he mistook for stinky cabbage. If the composer had not been treated within 15 minutes of being admitted to hospital, he would have died.
Read more: A 639-year-old organ piece by John Cage had a very rare chord change. And it was quite an event.
Despite this, the fungi continued to influence Cage, which led to the creation of Cage in 1972. Mushroom book and his 1983 poem âMushrooms and Variationsâ.
Gary Lincoff, former president of the North American Mycological Society, said that âCage believed he could hear mushrooms in the woods, but I think [he said it] with the tongue in the cheek.
Tongue-in-cheek or not, Cage’s fungal friends now have the technology to express themselves musically, and we’re interested to see what other living materials will be next to make music using bioelectricity.