Scientists Discover Way To Compose Music Just By Thinking About It

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Telepathy and telekinesis sound like something out of science fiction. And while real-life efforts might not be quite as smooth as, say, those of Professor X or Matilda, we are making progress. Researchers at the Graz Institute of Technology in Austria have engineered a brain-computer interface (BCI) application that gives users the ability to compose sheet music using the power of thought alone.

Gernot Müller-Putz, head of the school’s Institute of Neural Engineering, and colleagues used the established BCI method for writing and adapted it to create a new application able to read users' brainwaves and transcribe them into a musical score. The results have been published in the journal PLOS ONE


The tech works by flashing a series of options, such as musical notes, pauses, and chords, onto a table. Subjects trained on the software concentrate hard on their preferred option as it lights up. This creates a very tiny change in their brainwave activity, but it is enough to be picked up by the BCI and then transformed into sheet music by music composing software. 

For the study, researchers recruited 18 healthy test subjects who had at least some musical know-how. Their brain waves were recorded using a special cap.

"The results of the BCI compositions can really be heard. And what is more important: the test persons enjoyed it. After a short training session, all of them could start composing and seeing their melodies on the score and then play them," says Müller-Putz in a statement. "The very positive results of the study with bodily healthy test persons are the first step in a possible expansion of the BCI composition to patients."



Thought-controlled technology has been picking up steam recently. Over the past year, scientists have built a hands-free musical instrument, a replacement limb, and a thought-powered car – all of which can be powered by thought.

It might be a while before we see anything like Jedi-style telekinesis, but these are all promising steps. Improvements in thought-controlled technology can be used to help improve the lives of people suffering from motor-related disabilities, so let's hope the work continues. 


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  • music,

  • brain computer interface,

  • composition,

  • bci