This page updated: 10 Nov 2013
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)
In association with confused.com, 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:
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 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
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.
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.
Media Frenzy: International Interviews on "Sod-casting"
That story instantly went international, and on the next day I spoke to Canada (Charles Adler of Corus Radio Network):
Australia (6 PR Radio Perth):
And even Liverpool (Sean Styles of BBC Merseyside)!
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.
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.
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
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
Venue: Cheltenham Town Hall
Address: Imperial Square, Cheltenham, GL50 1QA
Phone: Ticket Office: 01242 505 444
Cost: £8 full price/£7 concessions
"Sod-casting" Radio showCity: BBC Radio 4 (UK)
Date: Tuesday 14 June
Time: 1:30 PM
Venue: BBC Radio4
Address: 92 to 94 FM
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 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
This event has already occurred
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
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
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)
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.
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".
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.
in the UK
BBC Radio 4
The Foghorn – A Celebration
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 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.
Listen to me talk about the science of laughter whilst experimenting on Nick Baker on BBC Radio 4's "Ha Ha Science".
Copyright © 2013 Dr. Harry Witchel.