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Mindtunes - Three disabled pioneers and DJ Fresh make music with brainwaves

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This is really a quite extraordinary story. Encapsulating the razor’s edge of neuroscience, precision engineering, the fabric of creativity and the unlocked potential of the human spirit – this is Mindtunes.

Three physically disabled men, Andy Walker, Jo Portois and Mark Rowland were brought together with a team of scientists and musical pioneer DJ Fresh to co-produce a drum n bass track. The real challenge however – was for the essence of the track to be created using only the intangible flows of emotion and cognitive electricity. Hooking up the three men to the latest in brain readers – that operate by analysing electrical signals thrown up by specific thoughts, the project sought to convert emotions into brain waves and then those brain waves into sound waves.

Despite the fact that this was, at some level, a marketing ploy by Smirnoff who funded and branded the entire project, the creative and scientific sparkle of Mindtunes speaks for itself.

Having calibrated the equipment to primal emotional responses within the three men, technician Julien Costet honed the interface between abstract thought and explicit effect.

With DJ Fresh at the helm – each of the three men was assigned a specific element of the track – Andy was controlling filter effects in real time by how much he chose to relax or revive. Jo was bleeping out synthesisier flows in his head and Mark was rolling out the beats. Having practised independently of one another and familiarised themselves with their parts, they were brought back together for a genuine jam. Which is where the magic really began to happen.

Suddenly, not only were their elements weaving around one another into a coherent whole, but the energy created by the ability to jam – to synchronise, to bounce off one another and build something truly special was remarkable.

The video can be found here and all proceeds are to go to Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for disabled people

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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