Music Makes Waves – the collision between art, music and science

University of Birmingham, European Research Institute, Digital Humanities Hub (Ground Floor) (G3 on campus map), Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT

The Music Makes Waves Symposium will examine the role that music plays in our everyday lives, looking at its social and neurological impacts and how it contributes to wider culture.

What makes music a social science and a tool for therapy? How and why does it touch the human spirit, both individually and collectively? How do science and technology influence the way we engage with music and with each other?

The Music Makes Waves Symposium will host trailblazing speakers from the worlds of music, art and science, examining the role that music plays in our everyday lives – looking at its social and neurological impacts and how it contributes to wider culture.



Registration and tea/coffee on arrival at ERI building (European Research Institute), University of Birmingham. G3 on campus map.

10.00am – 10.05am (ERI building)

Welcome from Harmeet Chagger Khan (Producer for Qawwali Shrine) and Introduction to the Keynote Speaker, Stefano D’Alessio.

10.05am – 11.00am (ERI building)

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Stefano D’Alessio
Playing New Technology

Stefano is a new media artist and composer based in Vienna who creates interactive performances and installations, combining visuals, sound, physical computing and performance through programming. In his keynote speech, he’ll be offering an overview of his artistic practice, focusing on interactive sound design and composition and emphasising the possibilities that affordable new technologies bring to sound and music experimentation.

11.00am – 11.30am (ERI building)

Martin Clayton, Professor of Ethnomusicology at Durham University
In time with the music: music, interaction and ‘entrainment’

Human beings have a remarkable and, in some respects, unique capacity to coordinate their actions: to be ‘in time’ with one another. Martin will examine where this ability comes from and its implications for the understanding of musical performance. He will also explore the possibilities of ‘entrainment’, a process where different rhythms interact with each other, leading in some circumstances to synchronisation.

11.30am – 11.45am

Delegates to walk over to the Dome at The Bramall Music Building (R12 on campus map)

11.45 – 12.30 (The Dome at the Bramall Music Building)

Tas Bashir, Scott Wilson and Afia Masood
Findings from Qawwali Shrine

The pioneering Qawwali Shrine project has been mapping physiological, psychological and emotional responses to Qawwali music and exploring whether states of enlightenment and feelings such as Rasa, Fana or spiritual bliss can be experienced, measured and artistically represented through new technology.

12.30pm – 1.25pm: LUNCH

Refreshments can be purchased from Costa inside the Bramall Music Building, Staff House (R24 on campus map) or Starbucks (foyer of Muirhead Tower, R21 on campus map).
Please leave enough time to walk back to the ERI Building for the afternoon sessions.

1.30pm – 2.00pm (ERI building)

Dr Renee Timmers, Sheffield University
Experiencing music in a multimodal fashion

We often listen to music as sound only. Whether we listen through headphones or speakers, the primary information is auditory. Interestingly, some listeners also make use of their other senses, such as vision and touch, when they interpret musical sounds, experiencing a sense of size, shape and colour. Renee will be explore whether this phenomenon is related to synaesthesia – a condition where a sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, triggers a sensation in another, such as taste. She’ll also examine whether these kinds of sensory connections differ depending on someone’s musical experience and if they help our memory for music.

2.00pm – 2.30pm (ERI building)

James & Balandino
Music Interaction Design at Integra Lab

Integra Lab is a Music Interaction Design (MiXD) research group based at Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University. The group’s research focuses on developing music technology tools for composition, performance and education and creating interactive audio works and performances. Their aim is to empower anyone, regardless of age, technical ability or discipline, to be expressive with music technology. They will be presenting examples of the Lab’s work, including Integra Live – their free, open-source software for creating interactive audio easily.

2.30pm – 3.00pm (ERI building)

Alan Wing, Prof of Human Movement, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham
Scientific investigation of the pecking order of musicians in a group

“Live interaction between musicians on stage is often the most electrifying element of a performance, but remains one of the least well understood” (Adrian Bradbury, professional cellist).

Alan will talk about his study of chamber music quartets, which has shown that the players are constantly making millisecond timing corrections to stay together.  Further analysis of this has revealed a hierarchy among the players. Alan will be illustrating how musicians who correct their timing to others may be seen as followers, while those who let others correct to them are leaders. He will also talk about his team’s current research, which is examining how real time analysis may allow pre-recorded tracks from other players to be warped to the timing of a live player to achieve mixed reality in music ensemble timing.

3.00pm – 3.15pm: COFFEE BREAK 

3.15pm – 4pm (ERI building)

Panel discussion – all speakers & plenary.

4pm – END

The Music Makes Waves Symposium is presented as part of University of Birmingham’s Arts & Science Festival 2017, a week-long celebration of ideas, research, culture and collaboration. For full festival details visit:

#cultureuob #artsscifest


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