joyBeat is a brainwave controlled drum machine using two methods of brainwave measurement for user control over a step sequencer (toggling voices ON/OFF) and the timbral qualities of the drum sounds. The system was presented at the 9th Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology – CIM14, in Berlin.

joyBeat from joel eaton on Vimeo.

I’ve been looking at ways to combine methods of brainwave measuring to offer deeper and/or more creative control over music. After the experiments I conducted with Duncan Williams on measuring a listener’s mood in response to music I have incorporated the same concept to joyBeat.

Essentially there are two methods of brainwave control happening simultaneously. One method is active – as in the user has a choice over the outcomes, and the other passive which, as it’s a subconscious means of control. The active control is SSVEP. It uses lights flickering at different frequencies that can be detected in brainwaves when a user gazes at different ones. I’ve recently built some bespoke units that house flashing arrays and screens which can be customised for performance pieces and different brain-computer music interface systems. In the video of joyBeat I’m using two of these units, which provide 8 options in total. The second (passive) method of control is measuring the users’ mood. Two properties in EEG, arousal and valence, have long been known to contain emotional indicators when considered together. In joyBeat I’m mapping their changes to FM synthesis parameters of the drum sounds, to explore how changes in mood can affect the sound in a novel way.