Cutting-edge collaboration inspires music and science

Published on

Rachael Gibson dissecting a eye in the Department of Eye and Vision Science

Eight scientists from the University of Liverpool have been chosen to partner with eight composers and eight performers from Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and the University of Liverpool to showcase and inspire each other’s work through a PRiSM-led collaboration - 8 Cubed.

PRiSM, the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the RNCM, brings together researchers and practitioners in composition, performance, Artificial Intelligence, mathematics, music perception and data science to foster and promote world-leading research through creative collaborations between the sciences and music.

Rachel Williams, our Professor of Ophthalmic Bioengineering in the Department of Eye and Vision Science, has been paired with Rachael Gibson, a composer from the University of Liverpool. The pair met to discuss what they do, why they do it and what it means to them to inspire the music that Rachael will write.

Rachael visited the labs in the Department of Eye and Vision Science in January 2020 to find out more about Prof. Williams’ and her team’s work. They explained how they are using materials in research into treatments for vision loss and assisted the musician in dissecting a pig eye.

Rachael, who has recently completed her masters in Creative Practice at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “Dissecting an eye was definitely a new experience, but it helped me understand how light enters the eye and the structural components that lead to vision. Rachel and her team explained how they control the properties of the materials they are using and how they aim to use these in new treatments for patients.”

“It was an amazing opportunity to see the hard work of these researchers in person and I have enjoyed the opportunity and challenge of using this as inspiration for a piece of new music. The work has inspired me to create a piece which features the use of woodwinds, guitars, percussion and electronic sounds.”

Prof. Williams said: “This exciting project links scientists with musicians, and when I was asked to take part, I thought it would be a fantastic way for us to share our research with a new audience. Representing science in different ways so people can understand it from different points of view is really important. It’s been so interesting to observe how the music has developed and see my research from a different point of view.”

Emily Howard, PRiSM Centre Director, said: “PRiSM is, at its core, a collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment exploring ways for practitioners from science, maths and music to influence each others’ work. This is the second time that we have run 8 Cubed, which has been shown to stimulate scientists and musicians to think about their research from a new angle. We are looking forward to hearing how the people taking part have been inspired, as well as the new music that they will create”.   

The pieces of music will be heard for the first time publically in a concert on 22 April 2020 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and on 13 May 2020 at the Leggate Theatre in Liverpool. Members of the public are welcome to attend and can book tickets here:

Wednesday, 22 April, 2020 7:30pm

Wednesday 13 May 2020 1pm