April 4th, 2009

mellotron, music

Music From The Worm Farm

So, a little over a fortnight ago (I'm getting worse at this...), I went to an evening of music inspired by nematodes (small worms) at the Dana Centre.

The Nurrish Lab in the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL are using nematodes to model brain activity, more specifically the affects of serotonin. Unusually, for a science lab, they've had a composer in residence for the past six months, Keith Johnson.

Although the evening did include a brief discussion of the research in the lab, the main focus was Keith's work (just mistyped that as worm, obviously got them on the brain now).

On arrival their was a pianist (Philip Howard) playing Keith's "A book of mutants", which Keith then went on to discuss during the talk. This was inspired by the lab mutating the worms to study what the seratonin affected. In this piece Keith has produced 18 mutations of Prelude No. 1 in C Major from Book 1 of The Well-tempered Clavier by JS Bach. Rather than just being a straightforward variation the mutations involve systematic changes to the music, such as removing repetitions (which obviously became less recognisable as it went on), swapping the notes played by each hand (which was recognisable, but in that "there's something not quite right here" way) or keeping the musical structure, but replacing all the notes with notes from a completely different piece of music (the example played was the Beatles, but I couldn't figure out which Beatles song).

After that there was a performance of 2 of Keith's other works "Porous with travel fever/PMA and serotonin" and "Still ist mein Herz/Aldicarb" and a piece by Paul Whitty, "...I was bored before I even began..." by [rout].

Keith's pieces were based upon combining the final section of "Der Abschied" from Das Lied von der Erde by Mahler and "Hejira" by Joni Mitchell. The combinations were both put together by looking at the data worms activity, so in the first piece for example, the amount of Mahler was governed by serotonin which causes the worms to be still, while the Joni Mitchell is governed by PMA which causes the worms to move more quickly.

Paul's piece was, unconnected with worms, but was based on the sounds from the pick ups on the instruments rather than anything being played by the instruments themselves.

There are some MP3s of Keith's work and a blog discussing it at www.wormusic.org (lj feed of blog: wormusic)
travel, commutting

Up North

So, I'm up in Penrith now.

After a slow start, I probably left home about 3pm and walked over to Euston.

Went past Owen St for photos for userpic. There are Owen's Fields on Owen St as well and the next street along from Owen's Row is Friend St, so it's suddenly made me think it's what lj would look like if you turned it into a borough of london... well, for me anyway.

Got there to find no trains past Lancaster until 5.30, so got one to Preston and mubbled about having to change. In the end, it was a bit of a relief to get off the horrid tilting things virgin run. Tempted to go the pretty way via Leeds next time to avoid them altogether.

Arrived in Penrith at about 8pm. There's something very nice about walking out the station to see the castle in the park.

Dog very pleased to see me *feels loved*
computer, internet, blogging

It's Amazing What Gains You Followers On Twitter

So, on the train up to Penrith, there was a teenager who shouted very loudly down his phone that Colin was on a Scuba Diving course.

Given that he clearly wanted everyone to know, I thought I'd help by publishing the fact on the internet using twitter/facebook.

It appears I've now gained 2 knew followers on twitter (presumably) as a result @bizofdiving and @ScubadivaLaura. They're probably going to be very disappointed when they discover I don't actually scuba dive.