Neurovisceral Sonifications for Milford Graves | Ars Nova Workshop
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The Quarantine Concerts

Neurovisceral Sonifications for Milford Graves

an Oval Room Session

June 10, 2021

Please join us for another Ars Nova Workshop presentation of The Quarantine Concerts in partnership with Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio. Neurovisceral Sonifications for Milford Graves features a very special collaborative performance by aRT (Pheeroan akLaff, Scott Robinson, and Julian Thayer) with selected TonoRhythmology recordings by Milford Graves — created by translating his body’s internal rhythms into musical sound — and generously shared with Professor Graves’ blessing for this presentation.


Pheeroan akLaff is one of the most important drummer/percussionists in creative music. Since a very young age he has been a major contributor to the artform, working alongside giants such as Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Oliver Lake, Henry Threadgill and many more. Through his organization Seed Artists he finds new ways to present this music to the public.

Scott Robinson is an award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist who has presented his music in nearly every corner of the globe, and appears on more than 275 recordings. He has worked with Joe Lovano, Ron Carter, Maria Schneider, Chet Baker, Henry Grimes, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Braxton and many more. His album Tenormore was named “Best New Release” in a 2019 JazzTimes poll.

Dr. Julian Thayer is currently Distinguished Professor of Psychological Science at UC Irvine. A Fulbright Fellow and winner of the Distinguished Scientist Award, he has produced more than 650 publications, and his research on music has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Psychology Today. Jules has recorded with Geri Allen, Charlie Mariano, George Garzone and others.

TonoRhythmology Recordings

In April of 2015, in what may be his last studio album recording, the great drummer Milford Graves collaborated with Scott Robinson, Marshall Allen and Roscoe Mitchell at ScienSonic Laboratories to produce Flow States. This historic recording contains Roscoe Mitchell’s first musical meeting with either Graves or Allen. Following the release of this album, the longstanding trio Robinson has maintained since the early 1980s with drummer Pheeroan akLaff and bassist Julian Thayer — known as aRT — began meetings and discussions with Professor Graves at his home about a collaborative music/science project. Dr. Thayer, besides being a bassist, is a renowned and oft-cited psychophysiologist specializing in health psychology, heart rate variability, and neuroimaging research — some of the same work that Graves has been carrying on for years on his own. They began collaborating on a paper to present Professor Graves’ work to the larger scientific community, work that could also be presented together with a performance by the quartet.

Unfortunately, Mr. Graves’ declining health made such a live performance/presentation impossible. However, when aRT was invited by Mark Christman of Ars Nova Workshop to film and record a performance in conjunction with the Milford Graves exhibit at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art in November 2020, Mr. Graves very graciously provided some of his TonoRhythmology/Sonification recordings, along with his blessing to incorporate them into the performance. These “sonifications” are recordings that he has created by translating his own physiological data — breath, heart rate, etc. — into musical sound. Having these musical manifestations of Professor Graves’ own physiology at our disposal provided a means by which he could, in a way, be present and part of the performance. The results are unique, and present many exciting possibilities! We hope very much to develop this idea further, and present more performances of this nature — together with a presentation of the scientific material — in a way that will honor the many contributions and creativities of the great Milford Graves.

Cover: Scott Robinson, Justin Thayer, and Pheeroan akLaff recording in the oval room at The Woodlands, Philadelphia, November 2020.
Thursday, June 10


  • Performance
  • Recording

Program Info

Free / Suggested Donation
All Ages



  • Pheeroan akLaff – drums
  • Scott Robinson – reeds
  • Julian Thayer – bass

TonoRhythmology recordings by Milford Graves



This video program will be streamed live on the Ars Nova Workshop website.

Support Musicans

Donations are requested on a sliding scale — as much as you can afford, as little as you are able.

Presented by

Presented in collaboration with The Quarantine Concerts, an inspired live-stream series hosted by Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio.

  • Experimental Sound Studio

Live Stream

This streamed video program will be viewable live on June 10, 2021 beginning at 8PM ET.

Oval Room Sessions

This program marks the inaugural presentation of the Oval Room Sessions, a series of performances recorded in the historic oval room at The Woodlands in West Philadelphia and organized by Ars Nova Workshop.

  • Performance
  • Series

The Quarantine Concerts

In partnership with Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio, Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present an evening of creative music from Philadelphia artists.