- Family-favourite, Turn It Up: The power of music opens today at the Science Museum, ahead of October half term;
- This dynamic exhibition is full of intriguing objects, musical commissions and interactive experiences, alongside personal stories and 35 scientific studies investigating music’s effects on our minds and bodies;
- It explores the intersection between creativity and science to show how innovators and musicians are expanding the possibilities of music-making;
- This interactive exhibition allows visitors to play with beat, melody and harmony.
- An accompanying music-themed live events series will include a special Lates with panel discussions and music performances, and Astronights sleepovers.
Turn It Up: The power of music
Until 6 May 2024
Turn It Up: The power of music, the hands-on exhibition exploring music's mysterious hold over us, opens today at the Science Museum. This vibrant exhibition illustrates how profoundly music affects our lives and explores how it drives us to create, perform, feel and share.
Through specially commissioned interactive installations, unique instruments and pioneering inventions, first-hand accounts from musicians and the public, and more than 30 research studies—visitors can discover the why behind music’s impact on our emotions, our psychology and our wellbeing. Turn It Up: The power of music also investigates what the future holds for melody-making from some of the ways in which AI is being deployed to how technological advancements are being used to develop more accessible ways to create music.
Visitors begin their journey through Turn It Up: The power of music by exploring how individual our relationships with music are. Historic music players are complemented by newer devices and people’s musical memories – including the headphones worn by WILL.I.AM in his appearance on Larry King Live in 2008, on display for the first time. A film sees artists from Elton John to Anne-Marie recount their childhood music memories.
This hands-on exhibition reveals that there is no right or wrong way to make music. Visitors can discover their inner music-maker and play with beat, melody and harmonies in a specially commissioned Musical Playground or assemble Lego-style Musical Building Blocks to experiment with different instruments, pitch and tempo when creating their own masterpiece.
Lead Curator Steven Leech said: ‘We are excited to bring Turn It Up to London and bring to life the mystery of music and the incredible ways that it impacts all aspects of our lives. Although we know that some people may lack confidence when making music, we hope visitors will discover through this exhibition that we really are all musical.’
Guest Curator Dr Emily Scott-Dearing added: ‘Music is both a seemingly unremarkable part of everyday life and an incredibly powerful force. Through this lively, hands-on, ears-open, immersive experience, we hope visitors will have heaps of fun, and come away thinking about their own relationship with music in a way they never have before.’
Visitors can discover unusual instruments – from the Pyrophone, an organ powered by flames, to the Anarchestra satellite dish, which can be played in multiple new ways to make music—in the exhibition. There is also an opportunity to learn more about how technology is changing the way music is made so that experiencing it is more accessible for everyone.
Pioneering musical inventions like these are on display throughout the exhibition, including the MiMU gloves invented by Imogen Heap and used by Ariana Grande and Kris Halpin, which uses gestures to control electronic music-making software. Musician Liza Bec invented the Robo-recorder, also on display, when she developed a rare type of epilepsy triggered by certain ways her fingers moved when playing an instrument.
Professional trumpeter, Clarence Adoo, uses Headspace, which he worked with inventor Rolf Gelhar to create after he was paralysed from the shoulders down by a car accident. This virtual instrument is controlled by head movements and breaths and has now been adapted to give others a musical voice. Meanwhile, Haile the AI musical robot, invented by the team at Georgia Institute of Technology in America, was designed to collaborate with human musicians, using powerful processers to generate and play new drum patterns.
Turn It Up: The power of music reveals the extraordinary world of music research. It showcases 35 pioneering studies by scientists and artists investigating music’s effects on our minds and bodies. It has been found[i],[ii] that music therapy can reduce agitation and the need for antipsychotic medication in up to 67% of people living with dementia.
Sat in a car, visitors can find out which music boosts driving safety, or relax on a bed to be soothed by a sedating composition. By opening sports lockers, visitors can discover which surprising tracks sports stars, including Hannah Cockroft and Andy Murray, listen to before they compete. A sports science study[iii] with triathletes discovered that running in time to a musical beat increased endurance by almost 20%. In a supermarket aisle, visitors can find out which songs could alter the taste of food or pick up a phone to see which ‘on hold’ music keeps callers on the line longest. There is a chance to polish up dance moves as the ‘Boogie to the Beat’ digital mirror motion tracks the Twist in the name of science.
The exhibition also shows how scientists and innovators are using music to help improve our health and wellbeing. For instance, the MediMusic app is being trialed in UK hospitals to allow medical staff to dispense music as medicine. The app uses AI to create a 20-minute playlist of tracks pre-selected for their musical qualities and calming effects. Live data from patients reveals responses and is used to improve track selection.
There is an opportunity to experience a composition by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in partnership with children’s mental health charity Place2Be, which takes listeners on an emotional musical journey, which provides benefits to children’s emotional literacy. Jack Coulter, artist and synaesthete, who sees sound, has created a work of art for the exhibition which translates onto canvas the track ‘Cornfield Chase’, composed by Hans Zimmer for Interstellar. Choreographer Chris Fonseca, who is profoundly Deaf in both ears, uses tactile tech to literally feel the beat and lowest notes of a song; called a subpac, the vibrating vest allows people to feel musical frequencies.
The opening of this new exhibition is celebrated today with Music Lates. This special edition of the popular adults-only, after-hours event features live performances, themed talks and fun-packed activities exploring the universal draw of music and the science and technology behind tunes and banging beats. Visitors can enjoy discounted entry to Turn It Up: The power of music, as well as the usual Lates highlights, including the chance to moonwalk by a Moon rock at our silent disco. A series of music-inspired Astronights, the Science Museum's popular sleepovers for children, will also take place from November and run into 2023.
Turn It Up: The power of music transfers to London following its hugely successful run at the Science and Industry Museum. It 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.
Turn It Up: The power of music opens at the Science Museum with thanks to the Vernon Ellis Foundation.
Notes to Editors
About the Science Museum
The Science Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, the world’s leading group of science museums that share a world-class collection providing an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Over the last century the Science Museum, the home of human ingenuity, has grown in scale and scope, inspiring visitors with exhibitions covering topics as diverse as robots, code-breaking, cosmonauts and superbugs. The Science Museum was named a winner of the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year prize for 2020. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk. Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Science Museum Lates
Bringing together a host of themed talks, workshops and activities, Science Museum Lates are free adults-only, after-hours theme nights at the museum. Science Museum Lates began in September 2008, and the museum has since hosted over 120 Lates events with themes ranging from sexuality and medicine, zombies and Frankenstein, to space and AI. Find out more about past Science Museum Lates events.
About Discover South Kensington
Discover South Kensington brings together the Science Museum and other leading cultural and educational organisations to promote innovation and learning. South Kensington is the home of science, arts and inspiration. Discovery is at the core of what happens here and there is so much to explore every day. discoversouthken.com