Biocomputer Rhythms is a piece of music composed with PhyBox: an innovative biocomputer built using electronic components grown out of biological material. My research is aimed at harnessing biological organisms to become components of computing architectures for new kinds of creative Artificial Intelligence.
My team and I invented a biological processor made with living tissue from an organism known as Physarum polycephalum. We baptized this processor the 'biomemristor'. Physarum polycephalum is found in cool, moist, and dark environments, e.g. decaying leaves and tree bark. Its intracellular activity produces fluctuating levels of electricity, which can be relayed through its body, and this prompts it to behave like a memristor. The memristor is the relatively unknown fourth fundamental electronic component: it is a resistor with memory. The others are the resistor, the capacitor, and the inductor. The memristor is exciting because its behavior is comparable to the behavior of biological neurones.
We built prototypes using Petri dishes retrofitted with electrodes. The process of building these prototypes highlighted a number of problems that had to be solved in order to develop a practical component. This work resulted in a very much improved design, which enabled the development of biomemristors cased in small 3D-printed barrels. In 2018 we built PhyBox: our first stand-alone biocomputer using biomemristors.
In July 2018 I completed the final version of the piece Biocomputer Rhythms, for piano with electromagnets and percussion. Electromagnets are positioned inside the piano to vibrate its strings. Some electromagnets vibrate percussion instruments. The motivation for preparing the piano with the electromagnets stems from my desire to give the piano a dual identity: one characterized by the standard piano sounds, produced by the hammers striking the strings, and the other characterized by the somewhat other-worldly sounds, which are produced by the biocomputer.
Eduardo Reck Miranda (BR/UK). Eduardo’s distinctive music is informed by his unique background as a classically trained composer and Artificial Intelligence (AI) scientist. He studied music and computer science in his native Brazil and at the University of York in England. He subsequently received a PhD in sound design with Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He worked at Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris as a research scientist in the fields of AI, speech, and evolution of language. Currently he is Professor in Computer Music at the University of Plymouth, where he founded the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR).
Composer: Eduardo Reck Miranda
Assistant engineer: Edward Braund