The Moment

Artists and researchers release first ever brain-controlled film soundtrack

Thursday, 09 November 2023

The live soundtrack to a brain-controlled film with 15 billion versions has been released for the first time. The live score is unique because it documents musicians improvising and adapting to the movie as it recreates itself in real time.

The MOMENT is a brain controlled dystopian sci-fi film, directed by artist and University of Nottingham researcher Dr Richard Ramchurn. Audience members watch the film whilst wearing a computer headset that monitors their brain signals. Each screening is unique because the narrative and sound mix adapt to individual brain responses.

The MOMENT was streamed live online during the pandemic to UK and international audiences, with musicians Hallvardur Asgeirsson in Iceland and Gary Naylor (aka Scrubber Fox) in Manchester performing the live score. The recorded live score was captured during a special live screening in Iowa on the 26th June 2021.

Every performance we did made a different soundtrack but the themes of a battle between AI and human consciousness come through every time. The literal years of preparation that went into the soundtrack allowed the musicians to freely improvise to the film and give the squelchy synths and brooding bass real emotional depth.
Dr Richard Ramchurn, Film Director and Researcher at the University of Nottingham

Gary Naylor, known by his artistic name Scrubber Fox, adds: “This is definitely one of the most interesting sound design/tracks that I've ever worked on. It took a month or so to get my head around the concept and how the different tones and instruments for each of the characters worked together. It was great to completely improvise the soundtrack for the audiences in the cinema in Iowa, with Hallvardur in Iceland and the film crew in Nottingham all coming together online in real time for each performance.”

The MOMENT live score album is double sided to showcase the virtuosity of the musicians as they respond to a new version of the film and are inspired together ‘in the moment’.

The film and live score vinyl development are the subject of ongoing research at the University of Nottingham to try to understand how audiences make sense of the changeable story and enjoy unique experiences each time. This work was funded by the Nottingham Research Fellowship scheme, which aims to deliver exceptional research that will transform people’s lives and provide solutions to complex global problems.

Dr Sarah Martindale, Assistant Professor of Digital Innovation in the Creative Industries, explains: “I’ve been researching with Richard and his collaborators during my fellowship because their work redefines what’s creatively possible, and what audiences can expect, which means it has the potential to transform our experience of film and music.”

Story credits

Images and trailer from AlbinoMosquito Productions Ltd 

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