Big time musicality: reinventing the album to create musical history

We worked with international pop icon Björk to help create the first interactive music album for mobile devices.

Professor Nicola Dibben, from the University's Department of Music, played a creative role in Björk's 'app album' - part of the pop star's ambitious multi-media project, Biophilia.

Biophilia comprises a studio album, apps, a new website, custom-made musical instruments, live shows and educational workshops. It was described by the New York Times as 'one of the most creative, innovative and important new projects of popular culture.'

BjörkProfessor Dibben contributed her musicological expertise and provided accompanying narrative to help create the pioneering musical artefact, which has now been sold in 200 countries.

Björk invited Professor Dibben to work on Biophilia after being impressed by her research – a published musicological analysis and critique of Björk's artistic output.

The research, published in 2009, is one of few academic works which presents detailed musicological analysis of the work of a popular music artist. It had a direct impact on Björk, her creative team and the content of Biophilia.

Professor Dibben provided feedback to developers on the musical and educational components of the Biophiia apps. She also worked with Bjork and the designers to create appropriate layering of the text in the app architecture.

Essays were also included in the apps, based on Professor Dibben's research. This was the first time Björk integrated academic research into her creative and cultural impact on audiences of her music.

"From my perspective as a musicologist, Biophilia is a fantastic opportunity to show that music-making can be spontaneous and that music theory can be understood intuitively - it doesn't need to be dry or abstract," said Professor Dibben.

"Being part of this project has meant I can apply my knowledge of, and research into, how music communicates ideas about the relationship between humans, nature and technology, and bring them to a much broader audience" she said.