Tod Machover, Charles Holbrow, Elena Jessop, and Rebecca Kleinberger.
Vocal Vibrations explores the relationships between human physiology and the resonant vibrations of the voice. The voice is an instrument everyone possesses. It is incredibly individual, infinitely expressive, and intimately linked to the physical form. In collaboration with Le Laboratoire in Paris and The Dalai Lama Center at MIT, we are examining the hypothesis that the singing voice can influence mental and physical health through physicochemical phenomena and in ways consistent with contemplative practices. We are developing a series of multimedia experiences, from solo “meditations” to group “singing circles,” that explore possible emotional, cognitive, and physical transformations, all in an enveloping context of immersive music.
The Vocal Vibrations team: Simone Ovsey, Elena Jessop, Tod Machover, Rebecca Kleinberger, and Charles Holbrow
The public “Chapel” space encourages careful and meditative listening. The composition in the Chapel centers on a D, which participants are encouraged to follow.
To produce the music for Vocal Vibrations, vocal material by Tod Machover was recorded by the early music choral ensemble Blue Heron directed by Scott Metcalfe, and by soprano Sara Heaton. The Tuvan throat-singing ensemble Alash also did some initial recording for the project in the MIT Media Lab studios.
Tod Machover used these recordings and other materials to create two related compositions for Vocal Vibrations, “Chapel Music” for a collective listening experience in the larger space, and “Cocoon Music” for an individual experience. Chapel Music is designed to play for long periods of time with no beginning or end, so that listeners can enter and leave at will. The music ebbs and flows, varies constantly in texture and frequency, but always stays relatively calm as well as focused on the central D note.
Headphones in the space help visitors find the D so they can participate in the music.