music

Just throw your hands up in the air

…the artists all signed some sort of “declaration” one by one. I don’t know what the document said—it was probably just a blank piece of paper…

{ Gawker | Continue reading }

Lovely is the feeling now I won’t be complanin’ (ooh ooh)

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The majority of music people listen to in their daily lives includes lyrics. This research documents how more repetitive songs lyrically are processed more fluently and thus adopted more broadly and quickly in the marketplace.

{ Journal of Consumer Psychology | Continue reading }

And when the groove is dead and gone, yeah, you know that love survives

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Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, known as the “Farewell” Symphony, was composed by Joseph Haydn and dated 1772. […]

During the final adagio each musician stops playing, snuffs out the candle on his music stand, and leaves in turn, so that at the end, there are just two muted violins left.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Create and manage chaos, then offer a form of order

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{ 100 Copies of The Beatles’ White Album Playing At The Same Time }

Same blue serge dress she had two years ago, the nap bleaching

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{ During the 1950s, with vinyl scarce, Russians began recording rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and boogie woogie on used X-rays that they gathered from hospitals and doctors’ offices. | NPR | full story }

I now regard my having been a Wagnerian as eccentric. It was a highly dangerous experiment.

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In this model of time, nothing returns

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Our brains show more activity in their emotional regions when the music we are listening to is familiar, regardless of whether or not we actually like it.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

related { Young Musicians Reap Long-Term Neuro Benefits }

and { By Licking These Electric Ice Cream Cones, You Can Make Music }

photo { Nina Simone by Alfred Wertheimer, December 1964 }

‘We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.’ –Schopenhauer

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The simplest type of human communication is non verbal signals: things like posture, facial expression, gestures, tone of voice. They are in effect contagious: if you are sad, I will feel a little sad, if I then cheer up, you may too. The signals are indications of emotional states and we tend to react to another’s emotional state by a sort of mimicry that puts us in sync with them. We can carry on a type of emotional conversation in this way. Music appears to use this emotional communication – it causes emotions in us without any accompanying semantic messages. It appears to cause that contagion with three aspects: the rhythmic rate, the sound envelope and the timbre of the sound. For example a happy musical message has a fairly fast rhythm, flat loudness envelop with sharp ends, lots of pitch variation and a simple timbre with few harmonics. Language seems to use the same system for emotion, or at least some emotion. The same rhythm, sound envelope and timbre is used in the delivery of oral language and it carries the same emotional signals. Whether it is music or language, this sound specification cuts right past the semantic and cognitive processes and goes straight to the emotional ones. Language seems to share these emotional signals with music but not the semantic meaning that language contains.

{ Neuro-patch | Continue reading }

Me. And me now.

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In recent years, numerous studies have shown how music hijacks our relationship with everyday time. For instance, more drinks are sold in bars when with slow-tempo music, which seems to make the bar a more enjoyable environment, one in which patrons want to linger—and order another round. Similarly, consumers spend 38 percent more time in the grocery store when the background music is slow. Familiarity is also a factor. Shoppers perceive longer shopping times when they are familiar with the background music in the store, but actually spend more time shopping when the music is novel. Novel music is perceived as more pleasurable, making the time seem to pass quicker, and so shoppers stay in the stores longer than they may imagine. […]

While music usurps our sensation of time, technology can play a role in altering music’s power to hijack our perception. The advent of audio recording not only changed the way music was disseminated, it changed time perception for generations. Thomas Edison’s cylinder recordings held about four minutes of music. This technological constraint set a standard that dictated the duration of popular music long after that constraint was surpassed. In fact, this average duration persists in popular music as the modus operandi today. […]

Neuroscience gives us insights into how music creates an alternate temporal universe. During periods of intense perceptual engagement, such as being enraptured by music, activity in the prefrontal cortex, which generally focuses on introspection, shuts down. The sensory cortex becomes the focal area of processing and the “self-related” cortex essentially switches off. As neuroscientist Ilan Goldberg describes, “the term ‘losing yourself’ receives here a clear neuronal correlate.” […]

But it is Schubert, more than any other composer, who succeeded in radically commandeering temporal perception. Nowhere is this powerful control of time perception more forceful than in the String Quintet. Schubert composed the four-movement work in 1828, during the feverish last two months of his life. (He died at age 31.) In the work, he turns contrasting distortions of perceptual time into musical structure. Following the opening melody in the first Allegro ma non troppo movement, the second Adagio movement seems to move slowly and be far longer than it really is, then hastens and shortens before returning to a perception of long and slow. The Scherzo that follows reverses the pattern, creating the perception of brevity and speed, followed by a section that feels longer and slower, before returning to a percept of short and fast. The conflict of objective and subjective time is so forcefully felt in the work that it ultimately becomes unified in terms of structural organization.

{ Nautilus | Continue reading }

Feel the spirit of the boogie band

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Although there has been some empirical research on earworms, songs that become caught and replayed in one’s memory over and over again, there has been surprisingly little empirical research on the more general concept of the musical hook, the most salient moment in a piece of music, or the even more general concept of what may make music ‘catchy’. […]

Every piece of music will have a hook – the catchiest part of the piece, whatever that may be – but some pieces of music clearly have much catchier hooks than others. […]

One study has shown that after only 400 ms, listeners can identify familiar music with a significantly greater frequency than one would expect from chance. […]

We have designed an experiment that we believe will help to quantify the effect of catchiness on musical memory. […] Hooked, as we have named the game, comprises three essential tasks: a recognition task, a verification task, and a prediction task. Each of them responds to a scientific need in what we felt was the most entertaining fashion possible. In this way, we hope to be able recruit the largest number of subjects possible without sacrificing scientific quality.

{ Music Cognition Group | PDF | Download the Game }

‘If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.’ –David Sedaris

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{ Velvet Underground Horrifies Psychiatrists, NY Times, 1966 }

The hard rhymer, where you never been I’m in

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The explosion in music consumption over the last century has made ‘what you listen to’ an important personality construct – as well as the root of many social and cultural tribes – and, for many people, their self-perception is closely associated with musical preference. We would perhaps be reluctant to admit that our taste in music alters - softens even - as we get older.

Now, a new study suggests that - while our engagement with it may decline - music stays important to us as we get older, but the music we like adapts to the particular ‘life challenges’ we face at different stages of our lives.

It would seem that, unless you die before you get old, your taste in music will probably change to meet social and psychological needs.

One theory put forward by researchers, based on the study, is that we come to music to experiment with identity and define ourselves, and then use it as a social vehicle to establish our group and find a mate, and later as a more solitary expression of our intellect, status and greater emotional understanding.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

photo { Olivia Locher }