Netflix’s new show, Sense8, is about the intertwining lives of characters who can jump in and out of each other’s consciousness. They connect both telepathically and empathically, brought together in a non-physical way reminiscent of how deep our relationships with people on the internet can sometimes be.
Now Netflix has brought this concept to music, by creating a symphony composed by the brainwaves of eight strangers. Netflix brought in eight fans of the show, with the goal of having them “collaborate on something together using just their minds.”
They hooked the fans up to an off-the-shelf EEG machine, monitoring their brainwaves as they were exposed to a series of stimuli: light, sound, scent, and graphics. These stimuli were designed to elicit certain psychological responses. The machine then read the participants’ alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta waves, combining them into music using a specific formula.
According to Netflix, the symphony was conceived of like “a jazz chart where the structure of the overall tune is defined and followed, but the individual performances aren’t known until they happen, they’re improvised in the moment.” Netflix provided the “rhythm section” and the “song flow,” but the individual melody points were taken from the oscillating brain waves of the fans.
But why do this particular project?
Show creator J. Michael Straczynski says there is something almost musical in the way the brain works, in the way electrical signals jump between neurons.
You can read more about the precise details of how they composed it at the official website, and hear the symphony below: