Sound asleep

Composing using sleep brain transitions


Composition and public lecture in collaboration with Dr Milton Mermikidis, composer and guitarist

In a public lecture held on the 6.December 2018 at the Barbican as part of the Physiological Society’s Sleep and Circadian Rhythms meeting, composer and guitarist Milton Mermikides and Oxford Professor Morten Kringelbach – an expert in the neuroscience of pleasure – explored the musical qualities of sleep. Their dialogue covered the science of sleep and its parallels with musical composition. Kringelbach discussed the neuroscience of music and why it is one of the strongest and most universal sources of human pleasure. Mermikides made the argument that everything we do is music, and that music exists from the galaxies down to subatomic particles.

Together they discussed the latest neuroscience of human sleep and showed how harmonic patterns in our sleep cycle can be used to create musical compositions reflecting sleep during both health and disease. Mermikidis showed what good and disrupted sleep patterns sound like as well as how our body clock differs from the 24-hour clock and how this impacts our natural sleep cycle. Building on the recent discovery by Kringelbach and colleagues on human sleep cycles, Mermikides presented a new composition ‘Sound asleep’ based on the neuroscience of falling asleep.

Read more about using scientific data for composition in this article in Chicago Jazz Magazine by Hrayr Attarian.

And more about the science of sleep in our Nature Communications article.