Milton Mermikides (born 26 May 1971) is a British composer, guitarist and academic of Greek heritage. His diverse output includes compositions, academic papers, talks (TED (conference)) and musical performances. He has worked with a number of artists including Tim Minchin, Pat Martino, John Williams, Tod Machover, Steve Winwood and Brian Eno and research bodies such as the Wellcome Trust, UCL Neuroscience, British Library, Science Museum, Aldeburgh Music and the Smithsonian Institution. Mermikides is widely recognised as a leading figure in data sonification. His 2004 work Bloodlines, written with his sister Dr Alex Mermikides, received critical acclaim. Bloodlines was created by translating his daily blood results, whilst suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, into each second of a musical composition.
He currently holds the position of Reader in Music, Head of Composition and Director of the MMUS Programme at the University of Surrey. He is also a professor of Jazz Guitar at the Royal College of Music in London and previously held the post of Head of Music Technology and Lecturer in Music at the Royal Academy of Music. In 2014 Mermikides co-founded the International Guitar Research Centre (IGRC) with Stephen Goss and John Williams.
Milton John Mermikides was born in Hampton, England in 1971 to CERN nuclear physicist Michael Mermikides and Law Student Olga Lioufis. He travelled widely as a child, receiving music classes from Ivor Cutler at Fox Primary School in Kensington, London and eventually attending Highgate School in North London. He gained a BSc in Analytical and Descriptive Economics from the London School of Economics and a BMus in Jazz Performance and Composition from Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA). Whilst at Berklee he studied Jazz Improvisation with Ed Tomassi, Hal Crook and John Damian.
Mermikides is an atheist and sceptic and a vocal opponent to the Anti-vax movement. He has been associated with the sceptic movement and has collaborated with George Hrab (with several appearances and references on his podcast and an interview of George by Milton on his album Trebuchet – the 'Virtual liner notes' ), the QED conference (for which he wrote the theme tune), the James Randi Educational Foundation and The Amazing Meeting. He was also interviewed on Meet the Skeptics.
His music blends data sonification, Jazz, modernist, generative, world music, IDM, groove, rock and electroacoustic genres. These are informed by research into musical theory, cognition & perception, scientific concepts, natural processes, algorithmic composition, microrhythm and improvisation. He has referred to this radical blending of styles, concepts and processes as “liminalism”, a "challenging, blending and melding of the boundaries of musical style, and of the limits of music perception, processes and accessibility". His data sonification work Bloodlines was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Midweek, and featured in the Times Higher Education Supplement. A later data sonification work, Careful, was featured in The Guardian. He has written music for plays (Derry Playhouse), Film Scores (Martino: Unstrung), arrangements for string quartet (D Rail, played live on BBC Radio 4's Intune), sound installations (Microcosmos at the Royal Academy of Music). In 2018, Milton Mermikides was interviewed by Evelyn Glennie on BBC Radio 4 on data sonification and his translations of Bridget Riley prints into music.
Mermikides has collaborated extensively with a diverse range of artists, academics and scientists. Collaborations include; writing the score for Pat Martino's film Martino:Unstrung (2008), arranging and production credits (with Bridget Mermikides) on Tim Minchin's Storm animation, and arranging music for Brian Eno for Hiroko Koshino's fashion shows in China and Japan. Mermikides was previously guitarist and arranger for band Stax (previously called Souled Out) with singer Sam Brown whose guest artists included Steve Winwood and Tim Rice.
He has also worked with Sleep experts and his Sound Asleep project was exhibited in the Design Museum, London, and featured on BBC Radio 4 Inside Science. Most recently he has been working with Professor Morten Kringelbach of Oxford University drawing parallels between circadian rhythms and musical theory, culminating in a presentation of new music at a public lecture hosted by the British Neuroscience Association.
In 2006 Mermikides founded the Eclectic Guitar Orchestra (Milton's Big EGO) – a guitar orchestra made up entirely of eminent guitarists. Members have included Craig Ogden, John Williams, Paco Peña, Jake Willson, Thomas Leeb, Declan Zapala, Stephen Goss, Gary Ryan, George Hrab and Bridget Mermikides.
He is currently working in collaboration with music technology pioneer Peter Zinovieff.
Mermikides gained a PhD from the University of Surrey in 2010 for his thesis ' Changes Over Time'. His academic output consists of many published articles including 'Rondo All Turca', for Total Guitar Magazine, 'On Composing: How To Be A Successful Computer-based Composer' (2010) for Computer Music Magazine Special: Making It, 'Parallel Worlds', '5 Decades of the Jam Band' 'Extreme Guitar Concepts' and 'Bossa Appreciation' (2014) for Guitar Techniques Magazine. He has also contributed chapters to many books including Music and Shape published by Oxford University Press and frequently shares articles on music theory on his website.
He has given many keynote presentations, including a talk for TEDx Groningen in April 2016 entitled 'Everything we do is music'., at the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts in 2018 as part of the 3rd Altamira Guitar Symposium and the International Guitar Research Centre, The British Sleep Society, Royal Physiological Society, Studium generale and the Frank Mohr Institute. In 2019 he shared a keynote presentation with Jim Al-Khaleli at the University of Surrey Doctoral Conference.
In 2015 was hailed a 'Rap Genius' by Gareth Malone OBE for his satirical instruction article on writing a generic Eurovision song. He has also written an article on the controversial 432 Hz Movement and has been interviewed as an expert in ancient Greek Tuning on BBC Radio 3 Music Matters. He was supervisor for Bill Bruford's PhD at the University of Surrey.
Milton's work features in many publications including The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music, Nature Immunology, New dramaturgy: international perspectives on theory and practice, Medical Humanities Journal, Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the Arts and The Anatomy of the Science Play.
Leukaemia and Fundraising
In 2004 Milton Mermikides was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. On 8 April 2005, he received a life saving bone-marrow transplant from his sister Dr Alex Mermikides. Whilst undergoing intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, he set up a website – miltcentral.com (now archived on his website miltonline.com) – and produced regular blog posts and videos from Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals documenting his treatment for leukaemia and bone marrow transplant. His courage and productivity during this period was inspirational to many fellow cancer sufferers and received global attention from leukaemia patients, carers, scientists, schools, skeptical groups and musicians. This later led to a scholarship from the James Randi Educational Foundation, and appearing as a judge in the final of the 2006 Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. Through various fundraising efforts he has since raised over £20,000 for Cancerbackup, Anthony Nolan and the Macmillan Cancer Trust. In 2015, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his bone marrow transplant, Mermikides put on a charity concert in Bush Hall, London, called Milton's Big Ego.
List of Works
- AMRt (2018)
- Deny II (2018)
- Heart of Mouse (2018)
- Late Morning (2018)
- Movement in Squares (2018)
- The Platelets (2018)
- To a Summers Days (2018)
- Take Your Seats (2016)
- ACTG (2015)
- Distant Harmony I-III (2015)
- Starstuff (2015)
- Circles (2015)
- Sound Asleep (2014)
- Microcosmos (2006)
- Bloodlines (2004) – Live electronics
- Primal Sound (2004)
Electronics with acoustic instruments
Classical Guitar with Live Electronics
- Bumbershoot (2019)
- Insighted (2019)
- Corale (2017)
- 2 Blue Circles (2014)
- Asini (2014)
- Frees (2014)
- I(c)escape (2014)
- Limnos (2014)
- Spirals (2014)
- The Broken Music Box (2014)
Chamber Music with Electronics
- Mindfield (2019) Piano and Electronics
- fall.rise (2019) Chamber Ensemble and Electronics
- Music from Albino Parts (With Brian Doherty – 2019) Violin, Piano and Electronics
- Music from Invisible Man (2018) 'Cello, Percussion and Electronics
- Nataraja (2018) Violin and Electronics
- Music from The Monk, The Bird & The Priest (With Brian Doherty- 2017) Violin, Piano and Electronics
- Music from Time Riders (2017) Violin, Piano, Electric Guitars and Electronics
- Solar (2017) Violin, Viola, Cello and Electronics
- Suite from Careful (2016) String, Percussion, Harp and Electronics/Live Electronics
- Geometudes Nos.1–5 (2015) Piano, Synth and Violin
- The Escher Café (2011) 2 Violins, 'Cello, Bass Clarinet, Hang and Electronics
- QED (conference) Theme (2010) Violin, Trumpet, Harpsichord, Piano, Synth, Drums and Electronics
- Terminal (with Peter Gregson (cellist) 2008) 'Cello and Electronics
- Omnia 5'33" (2007) 'Cello and Live Electronics
- Event Horizon (2007) 'Cello and Electronics
- Koshino Sound (Hiroko Koshino 2007 Autumn Collection) Violin and Electronics
- The Selfish Theme (2007) Guitar, Bass, Drums & Live Electronics
- Kalmer (2007) Guitar, Bass, Drums & Live Electronics
- Atona Sonata (2006) 'Cello and Loop Pedal
- Factory (2006) 'Cello and Electronics
Acoustic Solo and Chamber
- Hivemind (2019) (Guitar Orchestra)
- Insighted for Ukulele (2019) Solo Ukulele
- Changes (2016) Violin, Viola and 'Cello
- 3 Lights (2016) Violin, Viola and 'Cello
- Another Day (2015) Orchestra
- Birth and Death (2015) Solo Piano
- Crystals (2015) Solo Piano
- Dark Shards (2015) Solo Piano
- Irrational Music (2015) Piano, Strings and Percussion
- Outbreak (2015) String Orchestra
- Seed Pods (2015) String Orchestra
- Wave (2015) String Orchestra
- Filter (2007) Guitar and Bass
- Standard Deviation (2007) Jazz Guitar Duo
- Rowing Towards the Sunlight (2006) Classical Guitar Ensemble
- Creation (2002) Solo Flute
- Anomaly for Solo Violin (2001) Solo Violin
- The Cryptic Tryptych (2001) Solo 'Cello
- D-Rail (2000) String Quartet
- Little Orchestra (1997) Solo Classical Guitar
- One Last Surviving (1996) Violin, 'Cello and Clarinet
- il Gioco è Finito (1995) Soprano, Violin, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Drums, Keyboards
Film Scores and Installations
- Sound Asleep Video Installation (2015)
- Music from Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2012)
- Music from Martino:Unstrung (2008)
- Flatlanders (2004)
- Lady Geek (2012)
- QED (2011)
- 365 days of Astronomy (2011)
- Superwoo Duo (Rhys Morgan) (2011)
- The Amaz!ng Meeting (2010)
- The Pod Delusion (2009)
- Hidden Music (2015)
- Sound Asleep (2014)
- The Theme Attic (2014)
Adam Betts of Three Trapped Tigers
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- Sanguine (9 October 2010). "BIOMAB: 15–17 Oct 2010 Art Researches Science at Studio Villanella". BIOMAB. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
- "Transplant inspires siblings' Bloodlines project". Times Higher Education (THE). 30 January 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
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- Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel; Prior, Helen M., eds. (8 February 2018). Music and Shape. Studies in Musical Performance as Creative Practice. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199351411.
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- OBE, Gareth Malone (24 May 2015). "If the theory is beyond you, skip to the track at the bottom. Take note for next time! #douzepoints "Do you hear...http://fb.me/7lngjT35V". @GarethMalone. Retrieved 23 June 2019. External link in
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- Mermikides, Milton (2014). "Hertz So Good". Miltonline.
- "BBC Radio 3 – Music Matters, Amo amas amat-eur Orchestras! And Arnold in the US". BBC. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
- Bruford, William S. (2016). Making it work : creative music performance and the Western kit drummer (PhD thesis). University of Surrey.
- Dean, Roger T, ed. (22 April 2011). The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199792030.001.0001. ISBN 9780199940233.
- Mermikides, Alex (18 April 2013). "The scientist center stage". Nature Immunology. 14 (5): 416–418. doi:10.1038/ni.2592. ISSN 1529-2908. PMID 23598387. S2CID 205366467.
- New dramaturgy : international perspectives on theory and practice. Trencsényi, Katalin,, Cochrane, Bernadette. London. ISBN 9781408177099. OCLC 879147089.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Weitkamp, Emma; Mermikides, Alex (26 July 2016). "Medical performance and the 'inaccessible' experience of illness: an exploratory study". Medical Humanities. 42 (3): 186–193. doi:10.1136/medhum-2016-010959. ISSN 1468-215X. PMC 5013131. PMID 27466255.
- Meyer-Dinkgräfe, Daniel (26 June 2014). Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the Arts 2013. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443862479.
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