The brain and musical stimuli

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Can musicians paint? And robots? Maybe they both can, with a little intelligence.

Tonight at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, classical ensemble NZTrio will present the world premiere of brain rhythmswhere they strap on futuristic headbands and send their brainwaves to a robot, which will turn their thoughts into a masterpiece.

Well, that’s hope.

Cellist Ashley Brown said that although they practiced the performance, they had not yet tested it while actually hooked up to the robot.

The three musicians played atypical and complex pieces of music that stimulated their brains on different levels.

Their brainwaves would then be sent to the robot, which interpreted the moving data and painted the canvas.

The result would be a work of art showing how musicians’ brains work, he said.

They had tried the helmets without the robot and the smallest thing would change the pattern of their brain waves.

The cellist found the result to be different if he stood on one leg while playing or if he was thinking about his wife.

During the duration of the concert, two different canvases would be filled by the robot.

The resulting paintings would be auctioned off to raise money for Music Helps, a charity that supported musicians with their mental health.

Brown had no idea what the paintings would look like, but he was thrilled to see the result.

The musical numbers had been written specifically for the performance and were very intense, making it both an enjoyable viewing experience and an engaging musical experience, he said.

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