Saturday, 28 February 2015

Fungus plays 'biomusic' duet

A duet for slime mould and piano will be premiered at an arts festival this weekend, giving new meaning to the term "culture". Festival director and musician Eduardo Miranda has put the decomposition into composition: his new work uses cultures of the fungus Physarum polycephalum. This mould is the core component of an interactive biocomputer, which receives sound signals and sends back responses. The result is a musical duet between the fungus and Prof Miranda, on piano. "The composition, Biocomputer Music, evolves as an interaction between me as a human playing the piano, and the Physarum machine," Prof Miranda told the BBC's Inside Science programme. "I play something, the system listens, plays something back, and then I respond, and so on." The Physarum mould forms a living, evolving electronic component in a circuit that processes sounds picked up by a microphone trained on the piano. As Ed Braund, a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University explains, tubules formed by Physarum have the electrical property of acting like a memristor, a variable resistor that changes its resistance in response to previously applied more -

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