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‘There is something musical about the way the brain works.’
To create the theme song for Netflix’s new sci-fi show Sense8, producer J. Michael Straczynski picked a few brains—eight of them, to be exact.
In keeping with its science-fiction theme, Sense8 will feature theme music created by transforming eight people’s brain waves into musical notes.
“There is something musical about the way the brain works,” said Straczynski, who is best known for his work on Babylon 5. “It’s a symphony on its own terms.”
The eight strangers whose brain waves were recorded are an echo of the show’s main cast of eight characters, each of whom discovers that they can communicate telepathically, thus setting up the plot. Straczynski and his team tracked the participants’ alpha, beta, delta, gamma, and theta brain waves as the volunteers looked at psychedelic images meant to evoke various feelings or moods.
The resulting waves, interpreted on a musical scale, created the Sense8 Brainwave Symphony.
“The Symphony itself was conceived like a jazz chart where the structure of the overall tune is defined and followed, but the individual performances aren’t known until they happen, they’re improvised in the moment,” Netflix explained. “We provided the rhythm section and the song flow, but the individual melody points are taken from our participants’ brainwaves as a form of improvisational performance.”
The entire symphony can be enjoyed on Spotify.
Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III
Kasia Pilat is a multimedia journalist who worked with the Daily Dot while completing her thesis project with New York University. She's also contributed to WNYC, the Guardian U.S., and Paste Magazine. In 2016, she was a finalist for the SXSW Interactive Innovation Award for her multimedia website What Is Home?.