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Listening to Just Friends - Avalanche, top: audio waves, bottom: brainwave response
The onset of the guitar at the beginning of Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, the high bell sounds in Trentemøller’s Miss You, the slight rhythm-breaking delays of the piano notes in Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the dissonance and simultaneous harmony in the vocoder voices of Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek - Here i go looking for signs in my brainwaves that hint at the emotional euphoria and chill sensation that these moment produce within me.

Presented on Forage Press.

Listening to Just Friends - Avalanche, Brainwave visualization

Listening to Just Friends - Avalanche, Volume of audio frequency mapped against intensity of brainwave
In the visualizations shown here I am trying to capture this emotional response that music triggers within me. I picked the song Avalanche by Just Friends (a collaboration between Nicolas Jaar and Sasha Spielberg) as the basis of the work, as the sudden onset of Sasha’s haunting voice (at 2:46) on top of the sparse piano and low bass frequencies definitely belongs to my top-list of shiver-inducing moments.
Now, as we are more and more able to dissect and analyze our bodies behavior, we know that certain chord changes, compositional movements and melodies can cause the release of dopamine - the pleasure chemical - into our brain. Music enters into an interesting dynamic with our brain in a cycle of wanting and reward prediction. We feel pleasure when an expected melody returns, but we have even higher emotional responses when music manipulates and teases us by lengthening the anticipatory phase, inserting unexpected notes or slowing down the tempo, before finally returning to the expected resolution. (see The Neuroscience Of Music)

My tool for measuring and recording my brain’s internal state is the Zeo headband. Even though it’s intended purpose is to record your sleep states, it can also be used to monitor your brainwaves while awake. The execution of the project involved me, lying relaxed in darkness, my eyes closed, the Zeo headband strapped on and listening to music over my headphones. The images show several visualizations and mappings of the brainwave recordings to the spectral data of the audio at the same moment. Both stimulus and response are measured in frequencies. The brainwaves range in frequency from 2-4Hz (Delta) to 30-50Hz (Gamma), while the auditory spectrum lies between 10Hz to 10000Hz.

Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
Massive Attack - Paradise Circus (Gui Boratto Remix)