Microsound International Ltd. and SuperConductor - A Revolution in Music

Lifelike classical computer music, beautify music from your PC

Dr. Manfred Clynes

The SuperConductorâ„¢ program is but the latest achievement in Dr. Clynes' remarkable life. Indeed, it is unlikely that anyone else would have conceived of such an excellent, humanizing use for a computer. Dr. Clynes is regarded as one of the foremost interdisciplinay minds of our time.

man2.gif Dr. Clynes was born to a highly creative family in Vienna. His father designed paddle wheel boats that steamed along the Danube, and in 1913 he designed the first submarine used for peaceful purposes. His mother wrote plays and poetry and contributed to physics. His maternal grandfather invented the soda siphon. The young Dr. Clynes grew up listening to recordings of Pablo Casals' transcendent classical performances, and often the music would transport him. " I used to have these wonderful moments of ecstasy that seemed tremendously important." he says, "And I assumed that other people had them all the time; only much later I found out that wasn't the case."

Dr. Clynes later became a friend of Pablo Casals, and studied music under him and other great teachers - Edwin Fischer, and with Sascha Gorodnitzki and Olga Samaroff-Stokowski at the Juilliard School from which he graduated with an M.S. His love of music, his gifts as an instrumentalist, and his dedication led to his becoming an internationally renowned concert pianist. He has performed to great acclaim on three continents. After hearing him play at his home, Albert Einstein wrote him: "Your art combines a clear understanding of the inner structure of the music with a rare spontaneity of expression...."

The great man could hear in that performance the gifts of insight that Dr. Clynes applied to his long and fruitful career as a neuroscientist. Through his discovery of the biologic law of unidirectional rate sensitivity, or rein control (like reins of a horse) he discerned the fundamental reasons why sensing and communication channels of biologic systems are fundamentally different from engineering communication systems: why, unlike with electrical communication systems, we need two perceptual or hormonal channels, if both increasing and decreasing changes shall be communicated equally well. Biologic systems always transmit information somewhere along the line through concentration of molecules. But molecules can arrive, or be made, only in positive numbers, unlike electrical signals of the engineering world which can be positive or negative.

So in our biologic world of our bodies there consequently result two channels for sensing temperature - one for hot and one for cold, and these are felt as opposites, like two reins that can pull but not push. There are two channels for sensing light - one for light and one for dark (the absence of light is felt as "black", not as nothing - nothing is what you see behind you). But for smell nature has provided only one channel: absence of smell is not a sensory communication. Entering a room with no smell is not an experience in itself, as is entering a dark room. Our noses detect that certain molecules are present, not when they are absent. We do not detect a fading odor well. And a hormone once in our blood stream needs to dissipate at its own metabolic rate: there is no negative hormone to wipe it out - with consequences which we all know rather well!

In the 1960s he also invented the original CAT computer (not to be confused with the CAT scan), which measures the brain's responses to particular sensory stimuli. This machine, one of the first special purpose digital computers, was used around the world, greatly furthered brain research, and is even still used today in some labs (e.g. in Dr. Walter Freeman's lab at UCB) . Dr. Clynes used it to discover that people's brains produce remarkably similar patterns when presented with the same color and sound stimuli.

Another of his inventions, the sentograph, measures expressive actions of deliberate expressive pressure of a person's finger. When a person has an emotional experience, such as listening to music, his nervous system acts in a characteristic way, demanding expression, and this can be expressed through by finger pressure, measured on the sentograph. The sentograph allowed Dr. Clynes to discover these characteristic emotional shapes. He found that all of humanity seems to share these emotional shapes. They appear to be programmed materially into the way our nervous system is designed. People in widely dispersed, superficially and racially distinct communities had the exact same sentic form for emotions like anger and love. The study of these phenomena became the science of Sentics, a word Dr. Clynes coined and a field he pioneered.

He discovered that when people listened to great classical music, certain emotional shapes consistently arose. Clearly, certain interpretations of the music caused his subjects to have deeper emotional responses. He was able to turn these insights and observations into mathematical parameters for the "inner Pulses" of various composers. This unique idea is one of the central features of the SuperConductor Program (see the section about the Musical Insights that led to SuperConductor's creation). It is also a significant contribution to Artificial Intelligence, in being able to "understand" an individual's characteristics that distinguishes him from a nother.

Dr. Clynes is currently writing a book under contract for MIT Press, which shall include two music CD's, that will explain his revolutionary findings and ideas in detail. It will be called Music Interpretation in the Twenty-First Century and will become available next year. Dr. Clynes also coined the word "cyborg". His concept of a cyborg was of a symbiosis between a person and a machine, creating an interaction that would enhance life, such as a man and his bicycle, but in other pursuits, such as space travel. (This original meaning has been corrupted in the age of Terminator movies.)

Dr. Clynes currently resides in Sonoma County, the beautiful valley about fifty miles north of San Francisco. Please feel free to send contact to Dr. Clynes.