An Unlikely Muse
Music has been Andy Eggleston’s outlet for years. A classically trained violist, Eggleston has performed at Carnegie Hall and opened for legendary singer-songwriter k.d. lang. Despite her experience, stage fright “always got the best” of her. Now a fourth-year medical student and participant in the Medical Humanities program, Eggleston is combining her interests in a project using a brain-computer interface. Wearing an eight-channel EEG, Eggleston harnesses the power of her mind, interpreting neurologic activity through music production. Instead of merely enduring stage fright, she has found a way to turn it into a fount of creativity.
“I came up with this idea to make music out of the stage fright itself, along the lines of, ‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’
“Brain waves can be divided into different frequency ranges and recognizable patterns. My collaborator and I have programmed some pieces of music to highlight brain waves associated with a more relaxed mind, and some to highlight a less focused state, which allows me to exploit the brain waves created by the stage fright. Through this project, I have learned about cognitive processing in music, digital signal processing, and artistic applications of brain-computer interfaces. I have also been experimenting with the effects of real-time biofeedback on stage fright in live performance. It has given me the opportunity to take a new approach to an old problem.”