City academics join forces with icon Bjork

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SHEFFIELD University academics have been getting in tune with quirky Icelandic music sensation Bjork – helping her to create her latest album project.

Bjork is launching Biophilia this month, starting with a world premiere at the Manchester International Festival next weekend.

Biophilia is a multimedia project, which includes a studio album, apps, a new website, custom-made musical instruments, live shows and educational workshops.

The 46-year-old, famous for hit albums such as Debut and Post, has collaborated with app developers, scientists, writers, inventors, musicians and instrument makers on the exercise.

She has created a unique multi-media exploration of the universe and its physical forces – particularly those where music, nature and technology meet.

The album’s lead single Crystalline is out now, with Biophilia apps released through One Little Indian.

Dr Nicola Dibben, from Sheffield University’s Department of Music, said: “I’ve been working on Bjork’s Biophilia since September 2010 when she contacted me to ask if I would collaborate on the project.

“In collaboration with Bjork I have written musical analyses or short essays that form part of each app she is releasing.

“We did this to draw out the links between her music, newly invented instruments, and the nature-science topic of each song and app.

“The apps allow the user to learn about the music-science topic and about aspects of music. For example, the song and app Crystalline links the spatial relationships in crystal structures with song forms and structure in music.

“I am also contributing to the Biophilia music school, a series of week-long educational workshops for children. I will be part of the team introducing children to Bjork’s scientific and musical inspirations for Biophilia, in preparation for them to create music themselves.

Dr Dibben said to work with such an artist was a fantastic opportunity.

“From my perspective as a musicologist, it is a chance to show that music-making can be spontaneous and that music theory can be understood intuitively – it doesn’t need to be dry or abstract.

“Being part of this project has meant I can apply my knowledge of and research into how music communicates ideas about the relationship between humans, nature and technology, and bring them to a much broader audience.”

Another Sheffield academic, Dr Anil Sahal from the university’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, will be providing the scientific input to the Biophilia Music School, holding workshops with children looking at the science behind Bjork’s inspirations, including DNA, lunar phases and singing Tesla-coils.