Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week 5

Research and thinking about music's effect on the brain is enough to fill multiple books, biographies, let alone a blog.  I was interested to find out how completely different parts of the brain are activated by different aspects of music.  Rhythm being a more basic function and improvisation stimulating the frontal region. The brain is teaching us about music and music is teaching us about the brain.  I'm a firm believer that we are a fear based society and that the real masters fear not.  Improvising and creating music "turn down" the inhibition regions of the How can we expand on that?

What aspects of music are universal?  What is impacted by cultural imprinting?  The study of the isolated Mafa tribe in Camaroon was intriguing.  They haven't been exposed to other musics.  The don't have a word for music, yet they all sing and play flute music.  The emotions expressed in western music were still interpreted similarly to the way we do.  The presence of the perfect intervals, the fourth, the fifth, and the octave permeate all cultures.  Yet microtonal differences can be found, especially in the third.  The similarities of lullabies across cultures, the minor third of nana nana boo boo, and the overtone series all point to the ability of music to cross borders and touch lives much different than our own.  Often non-western music is more about the horizontal melody-not about harmony.  "There are boundaries, you just have to walk across them."-Bobby McFerrin.

Is music separate brain function or is it part of others?  Music is a language, but pitch and melody come long before language.  It is not a spinoff from language.  I don't really agree with all of the views of Steven Pinker on how the brain works.  Thinking about the evolution of humans and the role music has played is enthralling.  Was it used to possibly increase reproduction chances or for culture building?  I want to know more about the evolution of our vocal track. Neanderthals may have made music without having language.  I'm struck by the power of movement and music. It is something that existed in the cultures of our ancestors for at least 33,000 years, probably more, and therefore is deeply ingrained in our DNA.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Week 4

We absorb and respond to vibrations and rhythm before we are born.  Music is energy and can be explained through physics and math.  Music exists in nature.  Animals synchronize their songs.  Humpbacked whale calls are particularly complex in pattern, rhythm and form.  Scientists are even measuring frequencies in the cosmos.

Music's effects on the brain continue to be a topic of research and it's place throughout evolutionary history pondered.  The Mannes video, The Music Instinct, really inspires some deep thinking about music's role in our lives and throughout time.  It's amazing how many different parts of the brain are affected by listening to and making music.  We've become good at finding music that pleases us and directly effects the reward center of brain that emits dopamine.  The auditory and motor areas of the brain are thicker in musicians.  The technological advances that allow us to see what happens in the brain will continue to unlock the mystery behind our deep connection to music.

I'm really struck by symmetry in physics, math, music, art, and just about everything.  Human's like symmetry.  String theory is fascinating.  Fractals are fascinating. Sound waves, and the overtone series can all be explained with physics and math.  It's interesting that the breaking of patterns is what really excites us. One of the speakers in the video said that goose bumps happen when we her enharmonic change and syncopation.