Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Defining Music

Back in this post I said that an article by Philip Ball, author of The Music Instinct, was the best overview of music neuroscience I'd seen up until then. (This later post talks about a another contender.) His book has now come out over here and it's looking to be the best I've seen on what all the new thinking and research is telling us about music making since This Is Your Brain On Music. For now just want to enter into the record this quote:

. . . music. . . is the most remarkable blend of art and science, logic and emotion, physics and psychology, known to us.  (pg. 2)

And juxtapose it with this quote from the current Wired by Kevin Kelly (among other things, one of the people behind The Whole Earth Catalog, which will be familiar to those of a certain age):

. . . Really, we should think of ideas as connections, in our brains and among people. Ideas aren’t self-contained things; they’re more like ecologies and networks. They travel in clusters. . . 

And add a link to this post where there's this quote:

. . . Neuroscientists are split between a traditional view that the brain is organized as a hierarchy, with most regions feeding into the "higher" centers of conscious thought, and a more recent model of the brain as a flat network similar to the Internet. . . .

All of which point to the notion that making music involves way more than we've figured out. I'm not sure music makers need to spend a lot of time pondering this, as it could lead to something of a catatonic response, not knowing where to start. You don't need to be able to tune a piano to play one. But for teachers and therapists, this new info coming down the pike is bound to be very helpful, if not transformative.

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