The session began with a sharing of our progress with the Emotiv Insight headsets. I had an individual session with Elisabeth a week before, in which we realised several key things. Simon shared his struggles with the headsets as well, which were causing him to question many aspects of the process. We all agreed that these brainwave readers are provoking so many thoughts and questions, regardless of how "scientific" they may be. There was a real dialogue taking place between us, with the Emotiv BCI acting as a real digital score by forcing a sharing and mutual understanding between the musicians.
A number of things were decided. First: the level of connectivity does not seem to matter too much in respect of the performance metrics. This is important, because the training aspects seemed to demand high levels of connectivity, whereas in practice there were consistent spikes which could be understood if we ignore the training. Second: it doesn't matter whether the signal increases or decreases, both are indications of a change in state. One might think that an increase = more engagement, for example, but actually certain sounds have the opposite effect consistently. This is important for understanding how the system will interpret the data stream. Third: our feelings about a sound are not necessarily good indicators of our neurological reactions. Fourth: being consistent in terms of eyes open or closed is important to maintain an even set of responses. Visual and indeed other distractions can have a powerful effect. Fifth: the names given to the six performance metrics are fairly arbitrary subjective interpretations of electrical activity in the brain and are therefore not particularly important, although they will serve a purpose for compartmentalising the sounds and structuring the composition(s).
We discussed the cello part. I introduced the group to Neoscore and described how it would be used to generate a score in real time for Elisabeth to play from. Anya, Simon and myself will write some pseudocode which will then be converted into Python for the neoscore library. I showed the group my example, reproduced below. We discussed whether the notation could also be text and graphics (which are both possible) and Elisabeth asked whether it had to be delivered in real time or whether there could be a printed version in advance for her to prepare. While that is possible, I felt that it would be more in the spirit of syzygy to have something unfold in real time. We all agreed to try this and see how it goes.
Alt the end of the discussions we had a way forwards. Everybody will spend the next few weeks working with the brainwave readers to assemble/record a collection of sounds, placed in folders corresponding to consistent changes in performance metrics. In the meantime, will write pseudocode for the entire system, making decisions such as: what stream(s) will the system read? How many sounds will play at once? How will the piece be structured?
Cello solo - pseudocode
Tempo quaver = c.90
Note durations: quaver, crotchet, dotted crotched, triplet quavers.
Mode: Phrygian on E over four octaves (starting from E one ledger below bass clef, but including the D below that).
Phrase lengths (in crotchets): 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13
Each phrase must end on a crotchet or dotted crotchet followed by a quaver rest.
Phrases may begin and end on any note.
The opening and final phrases of the pece must begin and end on an E.
Phrase endings on E must be preceded by either D or F (in any octave).
Any phrase containing a triplet must be played quietly.
Any phrase containing a majority of quavers should be played loudly.
All other dynamics are mp.
Triplets should never occur more than once in a phrase.
Triplets should always move by step, either up or down.
Surpise accidentals may be Eb, Bb or Ab, which replace E, B or A respectively in a phrase.
Surprise accidentals should be infrequent, a maximum of one every three phrases, but ideally one every six phrases.
Ornamentation (turn, mordent or appoggiatura) may be included at a rate of one every three phrases.
Between one and three phrases to be played sul ponticello.
Between one and three phrases to be played sul tasto.
Between one and three phrases to be played pizzicato.
Every third or fourth dotted crotchet to be played as a harmonic.
Every fifth or sixth dotted crotchet to be played tremolo.