Our lives in sound
Our lives are filled with sound. On average, Americans listen to music for more than 32 hours a week (Nielsen 2017 study). We spend hours in conversation with co-workers, friends and families. We hear the everyday sounds of traffic, appliances in our homes, television, athletic events, pets, and a great deal more. We never think about what our brains do with all of that – sometimes competing – auditory information.
But according to Dr. Nina Kraus, Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Lab (Brainvolts) at Northwestern University, making sense of sound is one of the most computationally complex tasks we ask our brains to do. Not only is there a staggering amount of information to process (something on the order of 9 million bits of data per second1), we have to process information in microseconds in order to respond if necessary. Continue reading
Albert Einstein, at or near the top of anyone’s list of “greatest scientists of the twentieth century,” revolutionized science with his theory of relativity. And what did he have to say about this discovery?
The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.*
According to Einstein’s sister, Maja: “After playing piano, he would get up saying There, now I’ve got it. Something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.”**
And he told one of the founders of Gestalt psychology, Max Wertheimer (who wrote Productive Thinking, one of the classics about the creative process), that he never thought in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings, and even musical architectures.***
It would be difficult to find a more eloquent advocate for the study of music than Einstein. But all children are not going to be Einsteins, so why study music? Continue reading
Something different for this blog – a post to be listened to, not read. On March 11, I presented a webinar for the College Music Society titled A Musician’s Guide to the Brain: What We Need to Know and Why. This was the second in a series of webinars hosted by the CMS Committee on Musicians’ Health. If you click on the link embedded in the title, you can watch the archived version of the webinar. The archived quality isn’t quite up to the excellent streaming quality of the original, but the content is all there. Continue reading