Sunday, February 10, 2013
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 brain....wow. 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.