Midnight Mushroom Music

Saturday, April 14th started the Mycelium Network’s  podcast/radio station called, Midnight Mushroom Music. Tune in Saturday nights & float into the Mycelium network. Non-human lullabies. Non-human sound-based collaborations.
I am starting with Mycelium midi bio sonification.
First experiments placing electrodes onto mycelium, which send impulses that are converted to Midi. This Midi data is then plugged into AniMoog. Mycelium Music.

Each Saturday the pulses taken from various non-Human organisms will be introduced.

Please subscribe on iTunes! 

Badhamia utricularis. Image: Marco Bertolini

Saturday, April 17th 11pm, Myxomycetes: Physarum polycephalum, literally the “many-headed slime”

Tune-in to Midnight Mushroom Music and contemplate the unknown.

I’ve been working with sensors, modifying them, building them from scratch to purchasing them from Sparkfun/Adafruit, and other vendors for decades. My fascination with what makes ‘us’ Human, and the vast, incredible world of non-Human organisms and the possibility of collaboration- I find thoroughly exciting! I believe every species has a language (if you will) of its own. Whether through body language/signals, eye movement, chemical, vibration or pattern language is not always represented in word or sound.

It was through a workshop with doctoral candidate, Sarah Choukah that introduced me to Slime mould, aka Physarum polycephalum. Sarah implied that we all consider collaboration with the non-human. What that means, how that might look. At the time I was already researching algae, mosses, lichens, kelp towards the concept of renewable, sustainable sculpting materials, that might also be used towards bio/myco-remediation. Now I would view my research as a collaborative effort- with the non-Human entities I touched, caressed, grew. Having ‘minds’ of their own, I could create a scenario, however, it was anybodies guess what direction(s) it might grow in (literally!). This, to me is amazing and room for a lot of discovery.

Mycelium.
the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates. A typical single spore germinates into a homokaryotic mycelium, which cannot reproduce sexually; when two compatible homokaryotic mycelia join and form a dikaryotic mycelium, that mycelium may form fruiting bodies such as mushrooms. A mycelium may be minute, forming a colony that is too small to see, or it may be extensive:

Is this the largest organism in the world? This 2,400-acre [970-hectare] site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions.

pesticides (typical soil contaminants) are organic molecules (i.e., they are built on a carbon structure), and thereby present a potential carbon source for fungi. Hence, fungi have the potential to eradicate such pollutants from their environment unless the chemicals prove toxic to the fungus. This biological degradation is a process known as bioremediation.

Mycelial mats have been suggested (see Paul Stamets) as having potential as biological filters, removing chemicals and microorganisms from soil and water. The use of fungal mycelium to accomplish this has been termed mycofiltration.

Knowledge of the relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and plants suggests new ways to improve crop yields.

When spread on logging roads, mycelium can act as a binder, holding new soil in place and preventing washouts until woody plants can be established.

Since 2007, a company called Ecovative Design has been developing alternatives to polystyrene and plastic packaging by growing mycelium in agricultural waste. The two ingredients are mixed together and placed into a mold for 3–5 days to grow into a durable material. Depending on the strain of mycelium used, they make many different varieties of the material including water absorbent, flame retardant, and dielectric.[2] 

I ordered Mycelium material from Gro.Bio on February 24th, 2018. Gro.Bio combine mushroom mycelium with various substrates: hemp, flax, aspen and Kenaf. I started with hemp and flax. At first the flax didn’t appear to be growing well, while the hemp mix was. After a week the flax took-off and is still growing! Also back in February I started printing up circuit boards towards my own capacitive sound sensors…. which got me thinking about sound collaborations with the Mycelium.  I was already intrigued with the Slime mould music Paloma Lopez and Leslie Garcia were experimenting with through bio-electrical activity translated into a sound process with  the Energy Bending Lab and the Phytracker. So, I looked to construct my own version of Bio-Sonification and came upon the Midi Sprout. MIDI Sprout translates biodata from plants into music. That said, I could not afford a Midi Sprout so, I turned again to Google to find a method of, perhaps replicating the Sprout.

Parts:

  • Circuit Board
  • Power Header (2Pin)
  • ATMEGA328P-PU (pre-flashed)
  • LMC555/NOPB
  • 10K Potentiometer with Switch
  • 100µF capacitor
  • MIDI connector
  • 16MHz Oscillator
  • 3,5mm Mono Input Jack
  • Electrode pads & cable
  • 7x 220R resistor
  • 2x 100nF capacitor
  • 1x 0,047uF capacitor
  • 1x 100K resistor
  • 6 LEDs (2x red, 1 blue, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 white)

All of the above I found through 13-37.org an open-source electronics shop founded in 2017 by Manuel J. Domke with the mission to make open-source hardware available for the german and european market. SHAZAM!

Hooking up electrodes* to the Mycelium yielded crazy results, more than what I had anticipated would happen. The Mycelium clearly prefers the dark, does not at all appreciate being subjected to UV light. Lights out = lovely, calm bio-electrical activity.

Electrodes:

Electromyography is an electrodiagnostic medicine technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles.   EMG is performed using an instrument called an electromyograph to produce a record called an electromyogram. An electromyograph detects the electric potential generated by muscle cells when these cells are electrically or neurologically activated. The signals can be analyzed to detect medical abnormalities, activation level, or recruitment order, or to analyze the biomechanics of human or animal movement OR create music! 😉

Biomedical Sensor Pads, disposable electrodes that can be used to measure EEG, ECG and EMG levels. these little pads are perfect for short-term monitoring of Neurofeedback and Biofeedback purposes.

 

  1. Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running, Ten Speed Press, U.S.A. 2005 (p. 45, caption to figure 60)
  2. Kile, Meredith (September 13, 2013). “How to replace foam and plastic packaging with mushroom experiments”. Al Jazeera America.

 

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