What makes us dance? Why do we sing the blues? Could there be a formula for the perfect hit?

Over 65,000 people came to experience Science Gallery's exploration of music and the body.

Music is a central part of the human experience, but what is the natural force that drives us to sing, strum, drum and dance? What is the scientific basis of whistling, humming and toe-tapping?

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker recently claimed that music is "auditory cheesecake", designed to tickle parts of our brain designed for more serious purposes like speech and abstract reasoning. Darwin, on the other hand, preferred to think that music and dance evolved as an integral part of human courtship rituals. George Bernard Shaw more racily described dancing as "the vertical expression of a horizontal desire". Our brains, ears and vocal chords are exquisitely designed for enjoying and creating music.

From an acoustic bed to sonic tables and experiments on your emotional response to pop music, Science Gallery's Summer exhibition BIORHYTHM will allow you to feel how music moves your body through an interactive bazaar of unique sonic experiences, installations, experiments and performances from musicians, engineers and neuroscientists from around the world.

CURATORIAL TEAM: singer Gavin Friday, composer Linda Buckley, Professor Ben Knapp of SARC at Queen's University Belfast and Professor Ian Robertson of Trinity College Dublin and Michael John Gorman, Science Gallery.

BIORHYTHM is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, our founding partners Ulster Bank and the Wellcome Trust, the members of Science Circle: Dell, Google, ICON, Paccar, Pfizer and our media partner is the Irish Times. Thank you also to Sennheiser and Roland Ireland for their in-kind support of BIORHYTHM, and we are delighted to be joined by Phantom 105.2FM as our BIORHYTHM broadcast partner. Thank you also to DART/Irish Rail for their ongoing support.

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Artist: Sean McDonald, supported by the Moog Foundation [USA]

Bob Moog's Glasses (now called "The Theremin Inspector"),  was an interactive art exhibit installed at BIORHYTHM in Summer 2010.  Using a theremin --  an electronic instrument you play by moving your hands through open space rather than touching controls -- the exhibit highlighted how the human body can interact with electromagnetic energy to make music. is an imaginative artistic rendering of how the human body interacts with the theremin to make music.


The key feature of the exhibit was a "mixed reality" video system that showed the performer live in real time, with a data visualization effect that showed an imaginative rendering of the cloud of electromagnetic energy around the instrument.  While the exhibit did not show the actual electromagnetic fields, it did help people to visualize that they are interacting with electromagnetic energy and inspired people to think about the vast amounts of reality that they interact with while not having any sensory perception of it.


Thanks to the The Bob Moog Foundation, the artists were able to to arrange for the display of a piece of Bob Moog's Archives as a separate, companion exhibit.  The piece was the Eaton-Moog Multi-touch Keyboard prototype.


The name Bob Moog as used in "Bob Moog's Glasses" is licensed from the Bob Moog Estate and used under the express permission of Dr. Ileana Grams-Moog."  The name "Bob Moog's Glasses" is used with the permission and license of the Bob Moog Estate (Ileana Grams-Moog) for this exhibit only, in homage to a great inventor, and with the understanding that the program is not portrayed as a scientific depiction of the fields around a theremin.



By making contact with this interactive installation, and with those around you, build up a soundscape and turn your body and your skin into the musical instrument. In this sensory artwork, energetic contacts with other human bodies become sonorous.

Scenocosme: Gregory Lasserre and Anais met den Ancxt [France]


These days the soundtrack to our daily life can fit neatly in our pockets, in a car and just about everywhere else, but are we really aware of what happens to us when we are listening? We know that heart rates can change and moods can be altered but is that everything?

In this experiment you will view a short video with some music and be asked to look for a target that will appear every so often.

Corrina Maguinness and Brendan Cullen [Ireland]


You are invited to measure your emotions as a part of an on-going experiment with music, emotion and physiology. Does your body like music you thought you hated?

Using heart-rate monitors and skin conductance, the experiment reads your  physical response to a selection of music samples.

Niall Coghlan, Javier Jaimovich, Miguel Ortiz, Peter Hanley, R. Benjamin Knapp, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queens University Belfast [Northern Ireland]


Your ability to hear is due to the way your brain collects and processes the movement of molecules in the air. Vibrations are turned into chemical signals in the brain. This collaboration between an artist and a scientist has created a playful exploration of the world of human hearing.

Papermen and Aine Kelly [Ireland]


'Punk science’ meets Japanese innovation in this unique musical instrument that uses your own heartbeat as the basis for a tune. Using your body as an electric circuit, the instrument takes your pulse and sonifies it. You can then add sound samples and play along to your own heart.

Yoshi Akai [Japan]


An experimental musical piece that is shown on three separated screens as a video triptych. In collaboration with three musicians for a period of a year, Hertog built and developed unique musical instruments to fit each musician. These instruments became body extensions that blur the boundaries between the musicians and their instruments. A musical composition was filmed in one take by three cameras simultaneously, resulting in a realtime installation.

Musicians: Mischa Kool - singing saw, Sasha Agranov - sashon, Giori Politi - percussion


Chaja Hertog, in collaboration with Nir Nadler [Netherlands]


Our experience of sound isn't only about hearing and listening, the vibrations that produce sound are also physically received in our body. This installation provides an experience that enables the listener to hear and feel sound. Two loudspeakers are combined with six transducers to set up a three dimensional aural and tactile experience throughout the entire capsule.

The highly immersive nature of the piece takes you inside the artist's body.

Satoshi Morita [Japan]


This shell-like shape encapsulates you within an immersive audiovisual structure. While resonating in surround and tactile sound and delivering specially composed visuals to your eyes, low frequencies are fed through the floor converting sound into vibrations through your body. Experience your own personal surround synaesthetic cinema.

Janis Ponisch (co-designer), Arcadi (Fr), Fonds BKVB (NL), Ergoswiss (CH/NL), Philips Research (NL).

TeZ [Italy]


This is a collaborative, multi-user audio visual experience. Coded objects on the table are picked up by sensors combining to create a sonic experience every time a piece is moved. Created by the Music Technology Group at the University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, it allows the instrument to be played by simultaneous performers, opening a whole universe of musical possibilities.

Reactable Systems [Spain]


Our two ears enable us to detect the direction of sound, helping create spatial awareness in the world around us. Dr Enda Bates, lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin and a member of the Spatial Music Collective, has created a unique environment that demonstrates this principle. Using a binaural microphone, spatial sounds are transmitted back to headphones, allowing the listener to have remote spatial awareness.


Dr Enda Bates [Ireland]


Three instruments made from wood each contain a camera that people can hold.  Participants can use this to scan themselves to create different rhythms. The ‘rhythms of colour’ are created through software that translates the light patterns seen by each camera into sound. The activity will enable people to see the view of the camera as well as hear the sounds they play.

Seeing Instruments: until 25:08:10

Beau Lotto [UK]


Time for bed at Science Gallery, but this is not a bed for sleeping in. Sub woofers deliver a deep and intimate sonic soundscape throughout the structure, connecting with all your senses and enabling you to feel as well as hear the transmitted sound. The bed explores our very personal relationship with music.

Imagine a tank full of sound, slip inside for a sonic dip.


Kaffe Matthews and music for bodies [UK]


Any gallery needs some seats, but beware of this one. This original 1920s chair has been reconstructed full of sonic charges. Manipulate the voltage-controlled  oscillators on the control panel and you will physically experience the power of sound to your personal liking.


David Handford [UK]


The central staircase of Science Gallery has been turned into a musical instrument. Electronic triggers on each stair makes each step a sound, a note, or sample. A midi interface connected to a sound system turns your movements into music.

Move between floors to create your unique body-composition.

Derek Williams [Ireland]


By coming to Science Gallery you are participating in and contributing to an ever-changing soundscape. Sensors positioned inside and outside the gallery monitor your movement through the physical space, while software monitors the virtual presence of activity on the gallery's network, turning these parameters into sound. 

As the motion of people, objects and information in the space ebbs and flows, so the soundscape reacts, channelling your movement back into the space. You'll also be able to see where the two layers of traffic, the visible and the invisible, show parallel patterns of activity, self-organisation and emerging behaviours.


Rachel O'Dwyer and Roberto Pugliese [Ireland, Italy]


Keep an eye (and an ear) on this section of the web site to keep up with all the music and mayhem that will be generated in the many workshops over the course of the BIORHYTHM  exhibition.


Bob Moog's Glasses

This workshop led by Sean Mc Donald, was a great opportunity for participants to learn more about the Bob Moog's Glasses installation in Biorhythm. Sean demonstrated how to experiment with mixed reality environments, develop an understanding of how the human body is impacted and the applications of using such environments in a real life context for education.

Later on in this workshop White Noise collaborated with Sean on an experimental journey of sound and vision, much to everyone's delight!

Find out what resulted in the video made...and check out some of the photographs taken (to be posted at a later date)!

Human BeatBox

White Noise (also performing at the Biorhythm launch night in Science Gallery) led this Human Beatbox workshop, teaching participants about the role of beatboxing in linguistics and how to acquire the skill of creating music from vocal sounds you never knew you could make.

Later on in this workshop White Noise collaborated with Sean Mc Donald from the Bob Moog's Glasses workshop right in the studio next door, much to everyone's delight!

Find out what resulted in the video made...and check out some of the photographs taken (to be posted at a later date)!

Make Your Own Body Music

Gavin Timlin ran two workshops at Science Gallery, employing Ableton software and the Novation Launchpad, aimed at creating music using participants own bodies as instruments - recording an orchestra of heart beats, digestive gurglings and clicking bones.

Here is a sample of the some of the music that was created:

Music by: Gearoid

Music by: Radek

Music by: Anna

Music by: Body One

Music by: Animal One

Music by: Tarciso & Izabel


Music by: Non & Brian


Music by: Ferdia

Shape Of Sound

The Shape of Sound workshop led by artist Grace Digney (also demonstrated and used at the Biorhythm launch night), allowed participants to use an instrument called an Eidophone  to create a mulititude of sound pattern drawings in response to their own speech and singing, simply using sand and the force of vibration.


Taiko Drumming

This Taiko Drumming workshop was led by internationally renowned Wadaiko Artist Art Lee.

Taiko - also called Wadaiko in Japan, literally meaning “Large Japanese Drum”- is a combination of percussion, dance and and martial arts mixed with power, speed and synchronous movement.

Check out the video below to see how our participants drummed up a storm in the Science Gallery!