The Neurogranular Sampler is a software musical instrument designed by a collaborative team, which triggers grains of live sampled audio when any one of a network of artificial spiking neurons ‘fires’. The level of synchronisation in distributed systems is often controlled by the strength of interaction between the individual elements. If the elements are neurons in small brain circuits, the characteristic event is the ‘firing time’ of a particular neuron. The synchrony or decoupling of these characteristic events is controlled by modifications in the strength of the connections between neurons under the influence of spike timing dependent plasticity, which adapts the strengths of neuronal connections according to the relative firing times of connected neurons. In this paper we will show how we can ‘neuroengineer’ the collective firing behaviour of small networks of artificial neurons by exploiting spike timing dependent plasticity rules in a sonic context.
- John Matthias is a musician, composer and physicist. In 2008, he won the PRS Foundation New Music Award (the musical equivalent of ‘The Turner Prize’) with Jane Grant and Nick Ryan for the development of a huge sonic installation entitled The Fragmented Orchestra which also won an Honourary Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica 2009. He has released three albums, Smalltown, Shining (2001) on the Accidental label, Stories from the Watercooler (2008) on the Ninja Tune/ Counter label and Cortical Songs (2008/2009) (with Nick Ryan), a work for string orchestra and solo violin on the Nonclassical record label, which was listed by Time Out (Chicago in the top-ten classical albums of 2009. He has worked with many recording artists including Radiohead and Coldcut and has performed extensively including at the Wordless Music Series in New York, The Pompidou Centre in Paris and at the Union Chapel in London. He is Associate Professor in Sonic Arts and co-director of the art + sound research group at the University of Plymouth and is currently developing new instruments and compositional processes relating to sonic events and spiking neurons. These initiatives include orchestral composition, distributed systems and the development of a new Neuronal Music Technology and will form the basis of many new works and artistic collaborations.
Full text (PDF) p. 1660-1663