This page updated: 3 July 2014


My name is Dr. Harry Witchel and my concern is the science of the body and its language. Primarily, my interests revolve around the following topics:

I reveal the elements of non-verbal communication that are of practical importance. With everything I demonstrate, I apply the 'Monday morning test': what do people remember the next Monday, and how easily are they able to apply the material in their own careers?

My Show Reel

See a brief sample of my TV appearances (my show reel)
Watch... 30.1MB mov File (5 minutes 26 seconds).

Clumsiness Research

In association with, we did a feasbility study on a 12-minute breakfast-making task to help us understand what makes people clumsy? -- where you can find the full report and other films of the research. Below is a brief film introducing the study:

The following is an interview on BBC Radio explaining the study (with Joe Talbot on 2 Sept):

My book on music

You Are What You Hear, my book on music, was released in the UK in 2011. Many linked events are still taking place (see below). To find out more about the book (and to read excerpts):

BBC Radio 4 Word of Mouth: West Street Story

This interview with Lisa Lavia, myself and the Word of Mouth's team explains why our experiment on Brighton's most notorious clubbing street demonstrates how soundscape can be used to improve a social environment.

BBC Radio 4 You and Yours Noise Experiment

Radio Interview on Sodcasting

My Current Events

BBC logo

BBC Radio 1 documentary on Why We Listen to Music

Why do we listen to music? I appear in a Radio 1 Documentary. I must be gettin' down with the kids...

Broadcaster: BBC Radio 1
Date: Monday 16 January 2012
Time: 9 PM GMT

BBC logo

White Night, a music and soundscape experiment

White Night is the biggest all party of the year in Brighton. It takes place throughout the city, and the council opens the museum and the main concerts halls (the Dome) to the public for free until midnight. The parties and revelrey continue until the dawn chorus at 6 am the next morning.

"Come Together" is an experiment and a set of interactive demonstrations co-commissioned by Brighton and Hove City Council and the Noise Abatement Society. We want to see whether making a custom-designed 3 dimensional soundscape on West Street (Brighton's biggest and maddest clubbing street) will change the crowd's behaviour (and their body language). A live feed of the events will be sent to Sallis Benney Theatre, where I will be giving two master classes on music and territory followed by reading the body language of crowds.

City: Brighton
Date: Saturday 29 October 2011
Time: 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm
Venue: Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton
Address: 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton, BN2 0JY
Cost: Free!

Battle of Ideas logo

The Battle of Ideas: Can We Measure the Value of Art

Should the public fund art, and if so, which art? The Treasury wants all departments to put a value (based on objective measures) on everything being funded. Are we to vote on what is more or less valuable? And is there no place for the critical judgement of experts? Can science come to the rescue? Maybe we can find the value of the arts in terms of effects on the brain? I will argue the points with Dr. Paul Thompson, rector and vice-provost, Royal College of Art, Graham Sheffield, director, arts, British Council, Dr. Dave O'Brien, Author of "Measuring the value of culture: a report to DCMS", Alan Miller, co-director of the NY Salon, and Dr. Tiffany Jenkins, arts and society director, Institute of Ideas.

City: London
Date: Saturday 29 October 2011
Time: 10:00 am
Venue: Royal College of Art
Address: Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2EU

Media Frenzy: International Interviews on "Sod-casting"

Sod-casting is emblematic of our modern age. It is when young people on public transportation play their music on tinny mobile phone speakers so that everyone else can hear it. The sound quality is low, they are annoying everyone else on the bus -- why are they doing it? Is it just to be inconsiderate?

BBC Radio 4 broadcast on 14 June a spectacular 30 minute show where I explained to poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan what is going on, and showed how the need for social territory is the reason behind it.
13 MB mp3 File (30 minutes).

That story instantly went international, and on the next day I spoke to Canada (Charles Adler of Corus Radio Network):
5 MB mp3 File (9 minutes).

Australia (6 PR Radio Perth):
8 MB mp3 File (15 minutes).

And even Liverpool (Sean Styles of BBC Merseyside)!
1 MB mp3 File (3 minutes).

BBC logo

BBC Radio Interviews on the Eurovision Song Contest

Will Britain ever win the Eurovision Song Contest again? On May 6 I spoke to Graham Torrington on BBC Radio Bristol to consider the immortal question: do British hopefuls Blue have a chance of winning Eurovision 2011 with their new song "I Can"? I talk about how the science of music suggests the song has a fighting chance at being recognised as pop hit for listeners hearing the song for the first time.
1.9 MB mp3 File (4 minutes).

A week later I spoke to Emma Britton of BBC Radio Somerset on what it takes to have a winning Eurovision song, and her interest was piqued.
1.6 MB mp3 File (3 minutes).

Channel4 TV logo

Science of Art TV Show

THE SCIENCE OF ART is a ground-breaking three–part series that will explore how science is using art to understand the human brain, and, in so doing, throwing up surprising theories about how art works. Where the Romantic view of art is that it is God-given and unexplainable, science is now ‘unweaving the rainbow’. And controversially so… for many scientists now believe that they can explain why we like what we like, why we tap our feet to the Beatles, are dazzled by Dvorak, or go gaga for Gauguin. This controversial series will explore the world of art through the prism of ‘neuro-aesthetics’ for the first time. Working in tandem with the UK’s most prestigious art institutions… witnessing extraordinary cross-cultural stunts and experiments… and uncovering the secrets of many iconic works of art – from the Mona Lisa to Star Wars – this series will reveal how artists, musicians and storytellers have used their skills to dazzle the human brain, and explore how neuroscience is on the verge of radically changing our attitudes to human creativity. Covering Art & Architecture, Music & Dance, and Stories & Film over three episodes, it might even change the way we look at art forever. Dr Harry Witchel runs an experiment in the Tate Britain Museum measuring the physiological responses to iconic art from Pre-Raphaelite John Millais to Damien Hirst and even Francis Bacon.

City: Channel 4 (UK)
Date: Summer 2011
Time: Tba
Venue: TV
Cost: Free

Brighton Science Festival Logo

Cheltenham Science Festival

You Are What You Hear

Have you ever wondered why we evolved to have music? And if we need it, what does it do to us? Dr Harry Witchel, who researches music, pleasure and the brain, unveils why music makes us feel so good – or why the wrong music makes us feel so bad. Music can influence what you think, what you decide to buy ...

City: Cheltenham
Date: Friday 10th June 2011
Time: 18:30pm
Venue: Cheltenham Town Hall
Address: Imperial Square, Cheltenham, GL50 1QA
Phone: Ticket Office: 01242 505 444
Cost: £8 full price/£7 concessions

BBC logo

"Sod-casting" Radio show

City: BBC Radio 4 (UK)
Date: Tuesday 14 June
Time: 1:30 PM
Venue: BBC Radio4
Address: 92 to 94 FM
Phone: Update
Cost: FREE

Sod-casting is emblematic of our modern age. It is when young people on public transportation play their music on tinny speakers so that everyone else can hear it - whether it is on their phones or bleeding out through ear buds. In this show we investigate what is going on, and consider whether social territory plays a role.

This event has already occurred

Eurovision Logo

Eurovision Song Contest: Your Country Needs Blue (TV documentary)

Documentary following pop group Blue as they accept the challenge to represent their country this May at the Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf. But to do well, they will need some help. In this special programme narrated by Graham Norton, the boys in Blue set out to turn their song into the perfect Eurovision entry. Fan folklore says that to win you must have a memorable tune, strong chorus, eye-catching performance, a gimmick, the all important key change and a big finish. But do the people in the know agree? Dr Harry Witchel contributes to the discussion with some interesting analysis and opinion.....

City: BBC1 TV
Date: Saturday 16th April
Time: 18:10 to 19:10 pm
Venue: BBC1 Northern Ireland, North West, West, North East, Scotland, South East and HD
Watch again: until April 23rd
Cost: Free

This event has already occurred

BNA logo

British Neuroscience Association

This high profile four-day Biennial Meeting will showcase recent advances and cover broad themes of neuroscience. Dr Harry Witchel presents his "Music and the Mind" interactive event after dinner on the first night. Aided and abetted by clarinettist Karl Dürr-Sørensen and cello player Bela Emerson. Playing enchanting, haunting and "brain-befuddling” excerpts of music live on stage they illustrate the aspects of music that wield power over our emotions.

City: Harrogate, UK
Date: 18 April 2011
Time: 20:00 pm
Venue: Harrogate International Conference Centre
Address: King's Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 5LA
Phone: BNA: +44 (0)1223 766450
Cost: via BNA Membership/Registration Only

This event has already occurred

NAB sounding brighton logo

International Conference on Soundscapes

“Exploring practical approaches towards better soundscapes". SoundScape intelligently investigates the sounds that affect our lives. It explores new ways of solving noise problems by researching how sound can be viewed as a ‘resource’ rather than traditional approaches which try to combat noise simply as ‘waste’,” explains Lisa Lavia, NAS managing director and editor-in-chief of SoundScape. “SoundScape puts into context, how we can positively change and enhance the environment for the benefit of our health and wellbeing.”

City: Brighton, UK
Date: 6-7 April 2011
Time: 9-5
Venue: Brighton Town Hall
Address: Bartholomew Square Brighton, East Sussex BN1
Phone: NAS: 01273 823 850
Cost: £10 / £6 for the entire day (7 speakers)


Magazine Article for MEPs

EFNA, The European Federation of Neurological Societies has published an article by me on the scientific advances in music, especially for health, in the Spring 2011 Issue (Issue number 2) of their magazine, Science in Society. EFNA represents organisations throughout Europe dedicated to neurology and its disorders. Science and Society is distributed to Members of the European Parliament as a process for advocacy and fund-raising for research and treatments for neurological disorders. The issue with my article is here.

BBC World Service

The first radio interview on my new book on music was broadcast on BBC World Service on Janauary 14 in the final 10 minutes of their culture show called "The Strand". The interviewer is world music aficionado Mark Coles.
2.4 MB mp3 File (6 minutes).

BBC Radio Sussex

Interview about football managers

An interview on breakfast radio on Tuesday 15 February about the voices of football manager Alex Ferguson and his rivals, and whether shouting makes a leader more effective. This is in the lead up to this week's David vs Goliath FA cup match between Manchester United tiny team Crawley Town, both managed by fiery Glaswegians. I am being interviewed by Neil Pringle, but they have added some humorous music clips, which makes the interview sound glitzy and "Hollywood".
1.4 MB mp3 File (3 minutes).

Another interview on music and territory, this time about a local woman forced to leave her home by students who played loud music at all hours. The interviewer is Suzanne Bamborough.
2.3 MB mp3 File (5 minutes).

in the UK

BBC Radio 4

The Foghorn – A Celebration
Date: Tuesday 22 February 2011
Time: 1.30-2.00 pm
Peter Curran celebrates the humble foghorn's powerful role in music, literature and film.
The foghorn was invented in 1855 by Robert Foulis, a Scotsman living in northern Canada who heard the low notes, but not the high notes, of his daughter's piano playing while walking far from the family's fog-shrouded coastal cottage – thus inspiring the first steam-powered foghorn. But beyond the sea, its whale-like sound has inspired artists, writers and musicians to use the foghorn both as a symbol and instrument.
Peter hears from foghorn composer Alvin Curran and "fogmeister" Jason Gorski, who used to conduct illegal foghorn concerts in San Francisco Bay; and takes a tour of Portland Bill lighthouse – the set of the almighty Victorian foghorn of Poseidon-like qualities. I comment on the foghorn's musical approach to our emotions.
Presenter/Peter Curran, Producer/Sara Jane Hall for the BBC
1 MB mp3 File (2 minutes).

15 Minutes of Fame: On TV and Radio

On the Couch With Big Brother

Watch as I discuss the new housemates' body language with Davina.
Watch... 22.7MB mov File (10 minutes 49 seconds).


Watch me go head to head with Jeremy Paxman on BBC 2's Newsnight. Paxman wanted me to tell him why the England Cricket Team keeps failing.
Watch... 90 MB mov File (3 minutes 5 seconds).

Radio 4.

Listen to me talk about the science of laughter whilst experimenting on Nick Baker on BBC Radio 4's "Ha Ha Science".
5.24MB mp3 File (5 minutes 43 seconds).


Hear me on BBC Radio 4
Listen... 2.94MB mp3 File (3 minutes 12 seconds).

I was on Big Brother's Big Brain!
Watch... 41.6MB mov File (7 minutes 8 seconds).
Watch... 18.5MB mov File (8 minutes 15 seconds).
Watch... 17
.0MB mov File (7 minutes 34 seconds).

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Harry Witchel.
Page designed by Lawrence Krier.
All rights reserved.

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