How to Create Your Own EEG Musical Note Experiment with Ableton Live

Welcome to an exciting DIY guide where we merge the world of music with neuroscience! Today, I'll show you how to set up an experiment at home using a consumer EEG device and Ableton Live to explore how different musical notes and rhythms affect your brain activity. This fun and educational project can deepen your understanding of how music influences our mental state and might even spark a new interest in the fields of neurotechnology and digital music production.

What You'll Need:

  • Consumer EEG Device: Options include the NeuroSky MindWave, Emotiv Insight, or any similar device that can connect to a PC and output brainwave data.
  • Ableton Live: A powerful digital audio workstation (DAW) for music production. You can use the trial version for this experiment.
  • MIDI Bridge Software: If your EEG device doesn't directly output MIDI signals, you'll need software like Max for Live to create a bridge.
  • Computer: A decent computer that can run Ableton Live and the EEG software.
  • Headphones: For best results, use good-quality headphones to listen to the music while conducting the experiment.

Step 1: Setting Up Your EEG Device

  1. Install and Calibrate: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set up and calibrate your EEG device. Make sure it fits comfortably and the sensors have good scalp contact.
  2. Connect to Your Computer: Ensure the device is properly connected to your computer either via USB or Bluetooth, depending on the model you have.

Step 2: Configuring MIDI Bridge Software

  1. Install Max for Live: This tool allows you to create custom devices in Ableton Live, including those that can interpret EEG data.
  2. Setup MIDI Bridge: Use Max for Live to read the brainwave data from the EEG device and convert it to MIDI messages. You will need to assign different brainwave frequencies (like alpha, beta) to trigger MIDI notes or manipulate music parameters in Ableton.

Step 3: Creating Your Musical Set in Ableton Live

  1. Load Instruments: Open Ableton Live and load a variety of virtual instruments you’d like to control with your EEG data.
  2. Map MIDI Controls: Map the incoming MIDI messages from your EEG to different parameters in Ableton. For example, alpha waves could control the volume of a track, while beta waves could trigger a drum beat.

Step 4: Running the Experiment

  1. Record Baseline: With everything set up, record a baseline of your brain activity without music for a few minutes. This will help you compare the differences caused by musical stimulation.
  2. Play and Record: Start playing different types of music and record how your brain's response changes. Experiment with various genres and tempos to see which has the most significant effect.
  3. Analyze the Data: Use Ableton Live to review the changes in music parameters controlled by your brain activity. Observe patterns and note any interesting findings.

Step 5: Analyze and Share Your Results

  1. Compile Your Findings: Put together your analysis on how different music influenced your brain activity. Look for trends such as increased relaxation with calm music or heightened alertness with fast-paced tracks.
  2. Share Your Experiment: Consider sharing your results on social media or blogging platforms. You can even upload your Ableton project files for others to try out.


This experiment not only provides a fun and interactive way to learn about the relationship between music and brain activity but also introduces you to the basics of EEG, MIDI, and digital music production. Whether you’re a music enthusiast curious about neuroscience or a student looking for a cool project, this experiment is a fantastic way to explore two fascinating fields.

Happy experimenting, and remember, the possibilities are endless when you combine technology, music, and the human brain!