Wellcome Collection event about music

If you’re in London this coming weekend, you should drop by the “Why Music?” events at the Wellcome Collection, organised in collaboration with BBC3. The weekend is packed full with three days of talks, workshops and performances all about how music shapes us. Some events are ticketed, but there are…

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Daniel Levitin at BBC Proms

It’s BBC Proms time again! Every summer, the BBC hosts several weeks of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, culminating in the popular Proms in the Park event. Last Friday was the First Night of the Proms, and on Saturday afternoon, I made my way to South Kensington to attend…


Trap door conductors

This summer I’ve played under about two hundred different orchestra conductors. Some were pretty good, others didn’t even know how to hold the baton, and all of them went straight to a funeral after they finished. The conductors were unsuspecting audience members of You Me Bum Bum Train – a…


Doctor Who music

More than a year ago, I got some sheet music for string quartet arrangements for a piece of music from Doctor Who. Since then, an entire season of Doctor Who came and went, and I never got around to doing anything with the music. I planned to figure out how…


Elgar’s Explosion

Composer Edward Elgar had a chemistry lab in a shed in his yard. There’s an anecdote about this lab in Elgar’s biography by W.H. Reed, and it’s quoted verbatim in pretty much every other source about it. Because it’s only a second-hand anecdote in one biography, it’s hard to say…



It’s a long weekend in the UK, so I’m working on my favourite side project – people who do both science and music. (It really needs a catchy title. Suggestions?) I’ve been doing a bit of writing, but the past weeks were mainly research. The research phase never seems to…


Google Doodle Moog

Google has a wonderful tradition of adapting its logo to current events. There is a pattern to the days that get Doodles: they are usually national holidays, human rights or environmental commemorative days, or birthdays of famous scientists, musicians, artists, or engineers. Today the Google Doodle celebrates what would have…



In early November I visited the Science Museum in London, to see the Oramics exhibit. Oramics is a musical technique developed by Daphne Oram in the late 1950s, while she worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The idea is based on the concept of depicting sound as graphs (where you…


Science Showoff – my talk!

Here (at the bottom of this post) is the full talk I gave at Science Showoff on December 7. Notice how I neatly kept it within the allotted 9 minutes! I did cut out about three words where I was bumbling a bit, but otherwise this is the full thing….


Science Showoff!

Next week, on December 7, I’ll be speaking in London as part of Science Showoff. I’ll have tiny fragments from some of the interviews on here, as well as anecdotes about slightly more famous scientist-musicians.  Some of the other performers that night are actually making music about science, but there’s…