The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester has opened a world-first immersive exhibition exploring the science of music’s mysterious hold over us and how it drives us to create, perform, feel and share. Created by the museum, Turn It Up: The power of music opened its doors on October 21 – premiering as the Manchester Science Festival’s headline exhibition, before a national and international tour.
Through specially commissioned interactive and immersive installations, personal stories, musical tracks, dance and music-making opportunities, never-before-seen musical inventions, first-hand accounts from renowned musicians, artwork, cutting-edge research and unique instruments – visitors can discover the science behind music and what the future holds for melody making.
From why certain music can make us feel different emotions and how it might influence what we buy, to how it can be used to boost health and wellbeing and improve sleep – Turn It Up: The power of music shows just how profoundly music can affect our lives with or without us knowing. The exhibition shows how scientists are investigating music’s effects on our minds and bodies and how innovators and musicians are expanding the possibilities of music making and creating new technologies to ensure experiencing music is more accessible for everyone.
Take a musical journey through a new composition by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to connect emotionally with how music makes you feel –transporting you from feelings of joy, fear to sorrow. Collaborate and experiment with beats, melodies and harmonies to reveal there is no right or wrong way to make music by playing on a specially commissioned ‘musical playground’ light and sound installation. You can also design your own unusual instrument with the ‘Imagine an instrument’ interactive; and assemble ‘Musical Building Blocks’ to create a masterpiece, experimenting with different instruments, pitch and tempo.
Discover the power of music in everyday life by sitting in a car to find out which music boosts driving safety, relaxing on a bed soothed by a composition just for night-time slumber, opening up sports lockers to find out which surprising tracks sports stars including Hannah Cockroft and Andy Murray listen to before they compete. Plus spin the blocks in the supermarket to find out which songs would make your food taste sweeter or saltier, and pick up a phone to find out which ‘on hold’ music keeps you on the line for the longest.
Visitors can also put their knowledge and intuition to the test throughout the exhibition – guessing the meaning of songs from around the world even when the culture, language and instruments are unfamiliar; figuring out which songs have been created by a human or an AI; and testing your dance moves as the ‘Boogie to the Beat’ digital mirror motion tracks your Vogue, Renegade and Twist in the name of science.
Uncover first generation prototypes of the wearable musical instrument MiMU glove which use gestures to control electronic music-making software. And listen to professional trumpeter, Clarence Adoo, using Headspace, a virtual instrument controlled by his head movements and breaths, which he worked with inventor Rolf Gelhar to create, after he was left paralysed by a car accident from the shoulders down.
Discover the extraordinary world of music research – from baby brain scanning to dance motion-tracking, through a new film visiting six music scientists at work. Find out how they study topics from why we listen to sad music even when we are happy and why music triggers memories, to why it brings people together. Scientific equipment for studying music’s effects on our minds and bodies – including eye tracking software, hormone testing kits and galvanic skin response monitors – are brought together for the first time.
The exhibition also shows how scientists and innovators are using music to help improve our health and wellbeing. For instance, music players are being trialled in UK hospitals that allow medical staff to dispense music as medicine via the MediMusic app. The app uses AI to create a 20-minute playlist based on tracks pre-selected for their musical qualities and calming effects. Live data from patients reveals responses and is used to improve track selection.
Tickets for the Turn It Up: The power of music exhibition cost £8 adult, £6 child/concession and family discounts are available. Advance tickets can be purchased now through the museum’s website.