• Emily Howard
  • DEVIANCE (2023)
    (for solo piano and multimedia)

  • Peters Edition Limited (World)

Commissioned by Zubin Kanga as part of Cyborg Soloists, with the support of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and Royal Holloway, University of London.

Commissioner exclusivity applies

Sound Design: Bofan Ma Visual Design: Erik Natanael Gustafsson

  • pf + multimedia
  • Piano
  • 15 min

Programme Note


DEVIANCE (2023) fuses a number of meaningful artistic stimuli – geometry and the torus; neuroscience; artificial intelligence (AI); multidisciplinary collaboration – in my first work for solo piano and multimedia. Commissioned by Zubin Kanga as part of Cyborg Soloists, it responds to an experiment about how the brain perceives surprise in music.

Christiane Neuhaus used brain-scanning equipment developed by ANT Neuro to measure the brain waves of volunteers listening to my orchestral work Torus. DEVIANCE is structured around a large-scale accelerando followed by a rallentando superimposed upon its inverse and this structure is inspired by findings from the experiment.

Live piano is merged with two intermittent deviant trajectories: sound design by Bofan Ma and video design by Erik Natanael Gustafsson, each offering an alternative response to the original experimental brain data.

“Metaphor and mathematics meet raw brain data in the visuals for DEVIANCE. Simulated physical forces of EEG electrode readings and toroidal acceleration move millions of particles into organic neural shapes. Pathways emerge through data-warped space.”
Erik Natanael Gustafsson

“The sound design for DEVIANCE places centre stage a multi-layered sonic dialogue, juxtaposition, and – at times – competition between the brain and AI algorithms, constantly deriving and deviating from Howard’s meditative piano texture and Gustafsson’s data warped space.”
Bofan Ma

The piano material for DEVIANCE is entirely created from the expanding and contracting chords (major 6ths) that underpin earlier orchestral work Torus perpetually oscillating between faster and slower deviations: always searching, ever circling; a mesmeric mania. 

DEVIANCE’s intricate weave encapsulates a contemplation of deviance in its broadest context, from measuring divergence from norms within science to reverberations across societal hierarchies.

Emily Howard, August 2023



DEVIANCE, performed by Zubin Kanga




More Info

  • Emily Howard, Two new recordings and a World Premiere
    • Emily Howard, Two new recordings and a World Premiere
    • 29th September 2023
    • This week sees the launch of The Anvil, a New Recording of Orchestral Works and the World Premiere of Deviance for piano solo and multimedia and featured in Zubin Kanga: Cyborg Pianist for NMC Recordings. Both albums launch on 29 September.