comScore Researcher Composer Creates Slime Mold Duet Piano | The Mary Sue
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Researcher Determined to Play Piano Duet With Yellow Slime Mold

The slime mold is not actually a muppet.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 12.38.14 PM

Wait, didn’t this happen in an episode of Adventure Time?

On March 1st, Professor Eduardo Miranda will do something he’s pretty sure nobody else has done before: play a piano duet for human and slime mold. The slime mold in question is one Physarum polycephalum, a single-celled organism that grows large enough to be visible to the naked eye by merging with other Physarum polycephalum to form organisms with thousands of cell nuclei within a single enormous cell structure.

From The Guardian:

To capture the slime mould’s response to sound, Professor Miranda and his team designed a musical bio-computer that translates electrical energy generated by movement into sound. When the piano keys are played, the cultured slime mould responds by changing its shape, and this movement creates electrical energy. By capturing the slime mould’s electrical energy and transforming it into sound, this new technology allows the slime mould to provide an auditory response to Miranda’s original musical phrase.

Here’s a video where Professor Miranda explains the workings of his modified grand piano/slime mold hybrid, and plays a little music with it. The sound is just a bit eerie, and not entirely unpleasant. Not exactly a Tocatta and Fugue, but as a person who went to a college with a musical conservatory attached, I’ve heard way more out-there-sounding contemporary or procedurally generated musical compositions. You do you, little slime mold. You do you.

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