Beau Sievers

I'm a PhD student in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Wheatley Lab at Dartmouth College. I am researching how we understand emotion in music, movement, and other sensory modalities. I'm also working on figuring out how neural processes come to constitute our experience of being in and acting on the world. My assumption is that experience is fragmentary and incomplete, and by studying experiential lacunae—mind wandering; amnesia; hallucinations; delusions—we can make sense of how our brains work.

I am also a composer. I help organize Indexical with Andrew C. Smith and David Kant.

Publications

  • Wheatley, T & Sievers, B (In press). Toward a neuroscience of social resonance. In J Greene, I Morrison & M Seligman (Eds.) Positive Neuroscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sievers B, Polansky L, Casey M, Wheatley T (2013). Music and movement share a dynamic structure that supports universal expressions of emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (110)1 70–75. Open access PDF.
  • Parkinson C, Kohler P, Sievers B, Wheatley T (2012). Associations between auditory pitch and visual elevation do not depend on language: Evidence from a remote population. Perception (41) 854–861. PDF.

Teaching

Software

Bouncing Ball

Bouncing Ball is open source software for comparing the dynamics of music and movement as described in Sievers, B, Polansky, L, Casey, M, & Wheatley, T (2013). Music and movement share a dynamic structure that supports universal expressions of emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(1), 70-75.

Morphological Metrics

Morphological Metrics is a Ruby implementation of metrics described in Larry Polansky's article Morphological Metrics. Larry's work on Morphological Metrics is of interest for anybody who wants to quantitatively compare contours; I came to it as a composer and continue to return regularly as a scientist.

Ruby PCSet

Ruby PCSet is a simple Ruby library for performing musical pitch-class set theory operations. It has a few nice things which similar tools lack, including evaluation of some properties described by Balzano (coherence, uniqueness) and Huron (aggregate dyadic consonance).

Compositions

Instrumental

  • Distance Etudes
    2011-12, string quartet - source code and scores
  • Memory Network
    2011, 2-8 guitars + electronic score 7'-10'
  • Crossings
    2010, piano 4 hands 11'
  • Spatial Network for Percussion
    2009, percussion + electronic score 6'-9' - video
  • For assisted cellist
    2009, cello + electronic score 6'-9'
  • Foxtrots
    2009, variable instrumentation - source code and score

Electronic

  • General MIDI Haiku
    2010, fixed media 4'17"
  • Young Astronomer
    2008, fixed media 4'46"

Studies and Other Projects

  • Rhythm Necklaces
  • Slabs for Saxophone Quartet
    2013, saxophone quartet
  • General MIDI Texture Study #2
    2009, fixed media 2'40"
  • Permeable Borders Karaoke
    2009, karaoke performance at Performa '09
  • Grammar space
    2009, networked performance w/ Michael Chinen
  • New England Digital
    2008, improvisation w/ Chris Peck & Patrick Barter
  • Feedback Etudes (1, 2)
  • 2006, fixed media, no-input Sony MXP-3000, Ashly SC-66A, Otari MTR-10, and Lexicon PCM41

The source code for many of my algorithmic compositions can be found on my GitHub compositions page.

Miscellanea

My master's thesis, containing research which became the basis of Sievers et al. (2013): Follow the Bouncing Ball: Music, Motion, and Emotion.

Sometimes I am a mixing and mastering engineer. I've worked on Larry Polansky's album The Theory of Impossible Melody, Kui Dong's album Since When Has the Bright Moon Existed?, and an album by Brendan Landis called Slow Names.

I have made some art. Every Tour of Elysian Park, volumes 1 and 2 was a project for the Elysian Park Museum of Art. I wrote a computer program to combinatorially generate every possible tour of Elysian park, and printed out the first 10,000 possible tours. The printouts were exhibited at the LACE gallery in Los Angeles, California. Recording boxes for Mondrian and Travel recording with contact microphones: from Brooklyn to Den Haag were two collaborations with Joanne Cheung exhibited in Carry-On, a David Horvitz show at Galerie West in Den Haag, then at Maison populaire near Paris, then again at Galerie West in Den Haag.

As an undergraduate in the Music Synthesis department at the Berklee College of Music, I wrote a introductory guide to sound synthesis with examples in PureData: A Young Person's Guide to the Principles of Music Synthesis.

Around the same time, I built Metropolis, a polyrhythmic metronome built with Max/MSP. You can download it here: Download OS X application. Download Max/MSP patch. Watch screencast.

In 2005 I was commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts to produce and engineer Khmer Passages, an album of traditional Khmer music, along with Yun Theara and 2004-05 Rufus Choate Scholar Parker Barnes.

While working with Studio CLA in Phnom Penh in 2003-04, Parker Barnes, Eli CP, Ben Lerer, myself, Yun Theara, Savy Ouch, and numerous other talented Khmer musicians recorded an album. Here's a San Francisco Chronicle Magazine article about the project. And here's the All About Jazz review.

I play drums with Pineapple Island Tribesmen. When I lived in Boston, I also played with ...and people and crocodiles...