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Science and Industry Museum reveals full details of world-first exhibition, Turn It Up: The power of music

The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester is opening 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 Science and Industry Museum, Turn It Up: The power of music is opening on 21 October, 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, 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. 

Experiences throughout the exhibition will fully immerse visitors in the musical world.  

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; 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, spinning the blocks in the supermarket to find out which songs would make your food taste sweeter or saltier, and picking 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, by 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 their dance moves as the 'Boogie to the Beat' digital mirror motion tracks your Vogue, Renegade and Twist in the name of science.  

Exhibition highlights include: 

  • See unusual instruments, made from unexpected materials and objects, or played to surprising effect. These include the Pyrophone organ powered by flames, created in the 1800s by maverick musician Frederic Kastner, as well as the never-before-seen Anarchestra satellite dish, a one-of-a-kind instrument that can be played multiple ways, invented by musician Andy Thurlow to help people find new ways to make music. 
  • Discover musical inventions that are using technology to make music-making more accessible, including MiMU gloves invented by Imogen Heap and used by Ariana Grande and Kris Halpin, and the Robo-recorder invented by musician Liza Bec, who built their own musical instrument when they developed a rare type of epilepsy triggered by certain ways their fingers moved when playing an instrument. 
  • See Haille the AI musical robot on display for the first time. Haille uses AI to improvise and perform with human musicians. 
  • Uncover personal stories illustrating just how unique everyone's relationship with music is, including 84-year-old Barry Carr who lives with dementia. Although his memory is deteriorating, he feels at home when singing to Manchester City songs in the stadium when his grandson, Charlie Gibson, takes him to games. 
  • See specially commissioned artwork by renowned artist, Jack Coulter who has produced work for Anne Hathaway, Paul McCartney and the Freddie Mercury Estate. A synaesthete, Jack sees sound and music, translating it on to canvas, and has created a work of art for the exhibition based on the track 'Cornfield Chase' by Hans Zimmer from the movie Interstellar
  • Find out about the personal connection famous faces from across the world of music, dance and sport have with music, including Elton John, Andy Murray, YolanDa Brown, Hannah Cockroft and Anne-Marie. 
  • Learn about 35 pioneering studies featured together for the first time, exploring music's impact on different aspects of our daily lives, including ENO Breathe, an ongoing online breathing and wellbeing programme designed by doctors from Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust in partnership with the English National Opera (ENO), specifically for people who are recovering from long COVID and experiencing ongoing breathlessness and associated anxiety. It uses singing techniques to improve wellbeing for patients with persistent breathlessness due to COVID-19 and focuses on breathing re-training through singing. 
  • Throughout the exhibition visitors are invited to discuss and contribute their own musical favourites, inspired by input from famous faces and rising stars including Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Oti Mabuse and Billy Lockett. Which song brings back strong childhood memories? What is your favourite music and how does it make you feel? What music would you share with a friend to give them a boost? 
  • Discover the brand-new light and sound installation 'musical playground' designed by award-winning artists Amigo and Amigo especially for the exhibition, their first museum commission. Here visitors will collaborate, experimenting with beats, melodies and harmonies and discovering there is no right or wrong way to make music. 
  • Experience the never-before heard musical journey created by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in partnership with children's mental health charity, Place2Be, taking listeners through a range of emotions from sorrow to hope. The immersive family-friendly experience is designed to take visitors on an emotional journey with benefits for children’s emotional literacy. 
  • Explore a pop-up supermarket, gym locker room, office and pharmacy to see if you can spot the music that makes food taste salty or sweet; that is safer to play in the car while driving through the city; or that will keep you on hold for longer.  
  • Try a specially commissioned 'Musical Building Blocks' hands-on experience where visitors will have the chance to literally build music using LEGO-style building blocks. 

Visitors will begin their journey by exploring just how unique and life-long each of our relationships with music are, through personal stories, objects, and a film of big-name artists from Elton John to Anne-Marie recounting precious musical memories from their childhoods. A rich mix of music players from the Science Museum Group's historic collection are enhanced with newer musical playback devices, accompanied by memories collected from people across the UK.  

Learn all about the science behind music, how technology is changing the way music is made and enjoyed, and how it is being used to have an impact on the way we live our lives. 

See Haille the AI musical robot for the first time. Invented by the team at Georgia Institute of Technology in America, Haille was designed to collaborate with human musicians by using its powerful processers to generate and play new drum patterns. Be inspired by the stories of people pioneering technological advancements to expand how we make music and how accessible music-making is.  

Uncover first generation prototypes of the wearable musical instrument MiMU gloves, invented by world-renowned musician Imogen Heap and used by Ariana Grande and Kris Halpin, 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 music, after he was left paralysed by a car accident from the shoulders down. Now Headspace has been adapted to give others a musical voice. 

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. 

Curator of Exhibitions at the Science and Industry Museum, Steven Leech, says:

'We are incredibly excited to be able to bring to life for the first time the astounding and universal story of the mystery of music and the incredible ways that it impacts all aspects of our lives. Looking into questions like "How has innovation expanded our music-making boundaries?", "Why does music make me want to dance?" and "Can music make me better at sport?"

'Although we know that some of us may lack confidence when making music, we hope visitors will discover through this exhibition that we really are all musical.'  

Guest Curator of Turn It Up: The power of music, Dr Emily Scott-Dearing added:

'Through this lively, hands-on, ears-open, immersive experience, we hope visitors will have heaps of fun, discover their inner music-maker, feel moved and come away thinking about their own relationship with music in a way they never have before.  

'Music is both a seemingly unremarkable part of everyday life and an incredibly powerful force. We are restless in our musical creativity, always looking for new ways of innovating and expressing ourselves. And we are profoundly affected by music, from feeling the musical "chills" to its ability to lift our mood, calm our nerves or boost our performance.'

The exhibition brings together key collections and loans from University of Manchester, Anarchestra Foundation, Georgia Tech Center for Musical Technology, Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University, Birkbeck University London, University of York and Body Eyes and Movement (BEAM) Lab University of Manchester. 

This is in addition to stories, contributions and research from a wide variety of organisations and groups, including: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Royal Northern College of Music; Drake Music; Brighter Sound; Parkinsons UK; Henshaws; Salford Deaf Children’s Society; Alzheimer’s UK; Brunel University London; The Music Lab Harvard University; University of Oxford; Lucerne University; English National Opera; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; Skoogmusic; Place2Be; Manchester Camerata; Goldsmiths University London; Anglia Ruskin University; Keele University; and University of Salford. 

As part of the exhibition programme, visitors can look forward to a special after hours Turn It Up: Live event on 22 October, where they will indulge in an evening of live music, digital art and pioneering performance, as the museum partners with From the Other, the team behind Sound From the Other City, Fat Out Fest and Samarbeta artist residencies. Inspired by the experiences in the exhibition, visitors can continue to explore the power of music as it combines with technology to form this futuristic display of audio and visual art, led by headline artists Giant Swan, who over a table of drum machines, synths and guitar pedals deliver electrifying, improvised sets pushing the boundaries of live techno.  

Turn It Up: The power of music was developed in consultation with a Representation and Inclusion Group, which included representatives from Parkinson's UK, the National Autistic Society, Alzheimer's UK, Henshaws, Drake Music, Brighter Sound and the National Deaf Children’s Society. 

It is the headline exhibition at Manchester Science Festival. Produced by the Science and Industry Museum, the 10-day event will return to the city from Friday 21 – Sunday 30 October. The first details of its packed programme have been announced, including a new cosmic dance experience and a series of interactive events, all aimed at exploring what makes us human and asking the question: 'What does the future hold for humanity?' There will also be music-themed activities in the Manchester Arndale Centre, including performances by Global Grooves' illuminated drumming robots and free hands-on music technology workshops from Noisy Toys.  

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 (www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk) or by calling 033 0058 0058. A series of BSL interpreted tours, Relaxed sessions and Experitots sessions for families with younger children will be announced soon as part of the exhibition programme. Sign up to our newsletter for more information. 

To find out more about the Manchester Science Festival and what else will be on the schedule of events throughout the week, visit www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk/manchester-science-festival

-ENDS- 

Notes to editors  

For more information, interviews, and images please contact Rachel Conway, Press & PR Manager on rachel.conway@scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk or 07583 067 937.  

ABOUT THE SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY MUSEUM  

The Science and Industry Museum tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world.   

The museum's mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond.   

The Science and Industry Museum site is on the site of the Liverpool Road Station terminus of the Liverpool Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's first passenger railway station and the oldest existing railway goods warehouse. In total there are two Grade I listed buildings and four Grade II listed buildings on the site.  

The Science and Industry Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With five million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide. 

The museum is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound regeneration project that will see brand new spaces opened and significant improvements made to some of its best-loved galleries.