News

MusicEmbryo

I'm very excited to announce that I've composed a groundbreaking piece of music that maps out the growth of an embryo in real, musical time. Using the Carnegie System of staging embryo growth and a repeatable musical process, I've mapped the growth stages of a human embryo onto a shrunk down timescale that follows each day of an embryo's growth in real musical time. Children from Newcastle schools have supplied musical themes: I've chosen the best ones and used each as inspiration for representing a key factor in the embryo's growth (e.g. heartbeat), developing each theme through the piece in the same way that each important part of the embryo develops in the womb. So for example: you can hear the arms and legs grow and sprout fingers and toes, and the heartbeat develops and becomes stronger just like the embryo's does. Like the mitochondria that trigger the development of the embryo's cells, the children are a vital component of the process as it is their themes that have inspired and triggered the piece's growth.

Here's a better description of the whole project:

"If you could hear a human embryo as it developed what would it sound like?  This is the question explored in this unusual science/ art collaboration. With a small grant from NICAP (Newcastle University Institute for Creative Arts Practice) and EngageFMS, PEALS colleagues Jackie Leach Scully and Simon Woods are collaborating with composer and musical director Mark Carroll (http://markcarrollcomposer.com), conductor  Monica Buckland (http://www.buckland.ch/english/news.htm) and developmental biologist Susan Lindsay -- together with children from three local schools  -- to use music as a route to exploring ideas about human embryonic development. 

This project has been inspired by research in human developmental biology which provides important knowledge for understanding how human development is driven and in what ways it can go wrong. The development of human embryos over approximately the first eight weeks of life is more usually represented visually; this project adds a creative twist by inviting children to submit short melodies stimulated by ideas of human growth. Selected melodies have been used by Mark to build a unique musical composition that maps out the development of an embryo in real, musical time. Mark’s final composition will be performed by four professional musicians in the Great North Museum on Sunday 11 March at 4 pm. However, the focus of the project is as much on the process as the end product, as the children are encouraged to experience their roles as composers and possible scientists of the future."