For Biosynth Ensemble
Real-time Biometrics X Sound Synthesis
In the growing field of embodied music cognition, advances in biometric sensing have provided windows into key questions of human musicality and sound perception. What role does the body play in our encounters with music? What mechanisms govern our experiences of sound not only as an auditory phenomenon, but also as a tactile and even proprioceptive one? Bringing together researchers and artists at MIT and beyond, Organology couples collaborative music-making with biometric sensing technologies to tap into the personal and physiological dimensions of some of these questions from cross-cultural perspectives.
Many of the sounds you hear in Organology are powered by the ongoing BioSynth project, an interdisciplinary effort to design an electronic instrument that transforms physiological signals into musical information. Measurements of the players’ biometrics, captured by an array of mounted and wearable sensors, shape the performance by modulating parameters of the sound, including delay, distortion, tempo, and more. Three improvisatory episodes entitled “Gait,” “Breath,” and “Pulse” explore measurements of performers’ fluctuating movements, breathing patterns, and heart rates, respectively, all of which the audience can view on a shared dashboard. But it’s not only ensemble members in control: as a nod to the way that the presence of bodies can drastically alter the acoustics of a space, an infrared camera capturing average body temperatures across the entire room enables audience members to subtly influence reverb effects over the course of the performance.
With ensemble members and audience alike each controlling a distinct “organ”—that is, a unique component of the Frankensteinian BioSynth system—the collective comes to represent one dynamic body, a body that emerges from mindful musical collaboration and latent physiological resonance. Thank you for joining us for this experimental and experiential work, and we hope that you can feel empowered to voice any questions or observations at the talkback following the performance.
Note by Jess Shand
Jessica Shand (G), co-director, composer, flute
Manuel Cherep (G), co-director
Bahar Badieitabar (Berklee ‘23), oud
Dani Beck (Berklee ‘23), cello/voice
Dexter Callender III (G), tenor saxophone
Rafael Moises Heredia Horimoto (Berklee ‘27), percussion
Mike Jiang (G), keyboard/keytar
Veronica Leahy (Harvard/Berklee ‘23), soprano saxophone/clarinet
Andrew Li (MIT ‘25), alto saxophone
Sam Chin (G), magic effects
Chris Lock (Harvard GSAS ‘24), electronics (Max/MSP)
Ana Schon (G), live sound
Nikhil Singh (G), electronics (Max/MSP)
Cassandra Lee (G), moderator
Contributions by Perry Naseck (G), Alfonso Parra Rubio (G), Jocelyn Riseberg Scheirer (G), Patrick Chwalek (G), Philip Tan (MIT Game Lab), and Levy Lorenzo helped make possible the technical components of this project. Jimmy Day (ML Comms) and Kimaya Lecamwasam (G) provided generous assistance with visual documentation of the process and performance.
Thanks also to Andrea Volpe and Lydia Brosnahan (MIT Office of the Arts), Prof. Miguel Zenon, Fred Harris, Keala Kaumeheiwa, and Riley Vogel (MTA), Prof. Rosalind Picard/Affective Computing, Prof. Tod Machover/Opera of the Future, Prof. Zach Lieberman/Future Sketches, and Visiting Prof. Alaa Algargoosh (ML), Bill Lombardi (ML Facilities), and Clémence Taillandier (ML).
This project has been generously funded by a project grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT (CAMIT).
Taken from program note by Jess Shand
Christopher Lock is a computer musician, creative programmer, and film composer currently based in Cambridge, MA. He creates densely textural electronic music which slowly mutates and morphs over time and is often saturated with dark imagery or phantasmagoria. His musical practice stems from a tradition of Baltimore area noise music, where he first started experimenting with sound.
Through out his education Christopher has been fortunate to study with such musical visionaries as Esperanza Spalding, Meredith Monk, Vijay Iyer, Claire Chase, Thomas Dolby, Chaya Czernowin, Hans Tutschku.
In the spring of 2022 Christopher was the appointed Teaching Fellow for Esperanza Spalding’s Songwright's Apothecary Lab at Harvard University where he worked with Prof. Spalding and the students intimately during the semester to develop a concert program of new original works.
Christopher is an active composer of film music and has worked with artists such as Ezekiel Goodman (I Know What You Did Last Summer) and Robert Eng (Mullholand Drive, Twin Peaks, Corroline). In January of 2022 Christopher composed original music for Giovanna Molina's Deer Girl which was an official selection for the Sundance Institute's Ignite x Adobe Fellowship.
In the summer of 2019 his audio/visual work, in collaboration with his grandmother (also called Chris Lock), was screened at the Venice Biennale from May 8th to June 4th. The video was projected in the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava as part of the UK's.
In April of 2022 Christopher produced and performed original electronic music for LuChen's debut runway show in Manhattan, which was later reviewed positively by Vogue Magazine, Fashion Week, and other major publications.
Christopher is currently a Ph.D candidate in Music and Computer Science at Harvard University. He holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Music from Harvard, a Bachelors Degree in Computer Music from Johns Hopkins University (Peabody Conservatory), and a second Bachelors degree in viola performance (also from Hopkins).
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