Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Catch A Brain Wave

On Sunday, August 28th, 1949 — newspapers across the globe published the following article & cartoon about Raymond Scott's “brain wave” music of the future:
CHICAGO, Aug. 27 - (AP) - Some day composers won't write music, and musicians won't play it — yet fans will enjoy it in never-before-heard perfection. The composer or artist will simply project it by brain waves — "thought transference," says Raymond Scott.


This man, who thinks in terms of electronics and music, thinks that is all quite possible. Scott said in an interview:

"Brains put out electrical waves. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some day it were possible to do away with lines in music, such as writing it out and playing the notes. You'll just be able to think it.

"Imagine fastening electrodes to your head, inviting some people to your home and then thinking your music. If you wanted 1000 violins you could have them – and if you wanted the bass fiddle to play piccolo parts, you could do that, too."


Scott says even recordings will carry, instead of musical sound, the brain waves of the composer. No arrangers, no rehearsals.

Scott is a New Yorker who has spent most of his adult life working on new developments in his two loves, music and electronics. He maintains a permanent electronics research laboratory in New York, while he composes music and directs his bands for radio shows and night club appearances. His musical theories have always been off-beat.
Raymond Scott's 1949 prediction that music would one day be generated by brain waves is becoming a reality. For example, musician & computer engineer James Fung organized an experimental concert at the University of Toronto for which music was generated by the brain waves of the audience via EEG devices suspended from the ceiling. This video clip explains Fung's work & includes footage of the performance.


  1. That was thought provoking...

  2. Cool! Go Raymond! About 1975 or so, John Cage tried something where he interfaced an old school EEG machine with some electronics in attempt to play music with his brainwaves. What he got were little circular burns in his head where the electrodes were that never fully went away. I guess we've moved on from that technology.

  3. free associating a bit here, but it reminds me of charles bukowski's poem, my computer:

  4. This is a bit disappointing for me, as I like to listen to my son play the piano, but I'm sure that if he had to depend upon brain waves, we might be all be a bit shocked at how little we hear!

  5. Update from the BBC:

    The Multimodal Brain Orchestra performed its world premiere on Thursday.

    Led by an "emotional conductor" and a traditional one, music and video change in time with the performers' brain waves and heart rate.