Recent quotes:

Brain Waves Synchronize at Live Music Performances - Neuroscience News

“When the brain waves were synchronized in this live condition, they synchronized around the rate at which people tend to feel the beat. We call this ‘the delta band.’ This seemed to be the highest in the live condition.” This indicates greater enjoyment of music in the presence of a live performance, as well as greater enjoyment when experienced as part of a group.

Sound localization: Where did that noise come from? -- ScienceDaily

"We humans find it difficult to assess, either visually or acoustically, how far away an object is from us," Wiegrebe says. "Our visual system makes use, among other things, of the phenomenon of parallax. When we move, the apparent position of an object that is closer to us moves more within our visual field than an object located further away. This relative motion provides information about the relative distance of the two objects. Localization of sounds is particularly challenging when the nature of the sound source is not clearly defined. It is not that difficult for us to estimate our distance from a speeding ambulance when we hear its siren. But when the sound is unknown, we cannot tell whether we are hearing a faint sound close by or a louder sound further away.

How would the brain process alien music? -- ScienceDaily

In language and music, dependencies are conceptual threads that bind two things together. Non-local dependencies bind non-adjacent items. For example, in pop music, the second instance of a verse, following a chorus, would have a non-local dependency with the first instance of the verse. Experientially, it is clear to us that we are hearing a sequence that we have heard before. According to Cheung, composers use such devices to build up our expectations and elicit strong emotional responses to the music. But how does the brain recognize these patterns and what does this have to do with Paul Broca?

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study -- ScienceDaily

"Our brain uses prior experiences to generate sensory expectations that help fill in the gaps when sounds or images are distorted or unclear," said Guillermo Horga, MD, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at CUIMC and a research psychiatrist at NYSPI. "In individuals with schizophrenia, this process appears to be altered, leading to extreme perceptual distortions, such as hearing voices that are not there. Furthermore, while such hallucinations are often successfully treated by antipsychotic drugs that block the neurotransmitter dopamine in a brain structure known as the striatum, the reason for this has been a mystery since this neurotransmitter and brain region are not typically associated with sensory processing." The researchers designed an experiment that induces an auditory illusion in both healthy participants and participants with schizophrenia. They examined how building up or breaking down sensory expectations can modify the strength of this illusion. They also measured dopamine release before and after administering a drug that stimulates the release of dopamine. Patients with hallucinations tended to perceive sounds in a way that was more similar to what they had been cued to expect, even when sensory expectations were less reliable and illusions weakened in healthy participants. This tendency to inflexibly hear what was expected was worsened after giving a dopamine-releasing drug, and more pronounced in participants with elevated dopamine release, and more apparent in participants with a smaller dorsal anterior cingulate (a brain region previously shown to track reliability of environmental cues).

5 Hours of Glenn Gould Outtakes. Why? Listen and Find Out. - The New York Times

In a 1966 article, “The Prospects of Recording,” he fantasized about a future when listeners would be granted tape-edit options and could patch together their preferred versions of, say, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, from recordings by different conductors.

5 Hours of Glenn Gould Outtakes. Why? Listen and Find Out. - The New York Times

The master pianist Artur Schnabel, for one, initially resisted entreaties to make records. The nature of a performance, he wrote in a memoir, “is to happen but once, to be absolutely ephemeral and unrepeatable.”

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently: Even when playing the same piece of music -- ScienceDaily

One crucial distinction between the two groups of musicians is the way in which they plan movements while playing the piano. Regardless of the style, pianists, in principle, first have to know what they are going to play -- meaning the keys they have to press -- and, subsequently, how to play -- meaning the fingers they should use. It is the weighting of both planning steps, which is influenced by the genre of the music. According to this, classical pianists focus their playing on the second step, the "How." For them it is about playing pieces perfectly regarding their technique and adding personal expression. Therefore, the choice of fingering is crucial. Jazz pianists, on the other hand, concentrate on the "What." They are always prepared to improvise and adapt their playing to create unexpected harmonies. "Indeed, in the jazz pianists we found neural evidence for this flexibility in planning harmonies when playing the piano," states Roberta Bianco, first author of the study. "When we asked them to play a harmonically unexpected chord within a standard chord progression, their brains started to replan the actions faster than classical pianists. Accordingly, they were better able to react and continue their performance." Interestingly, the classical pianists performed better than the others when it came to following unusual fingering. In these cases their brains showed stronger awareness of the fingering, and consequently they made fewer errors while imitating the chord sequence.

Brain is strobing, not constant, neuroscience research shows: First sight, now sound: New discoveries show perception is cyclical -- ScienceDaily

The key findings are: 1. auditory perception oscillates over time and peak perception alternates between the ears -- which is important for locating events in the environment; 2. auditory decision-making also oscillates; and 3. oscillations are a general feature of perception, not specific to vision. The work is the result of an Italian-Australian collaboration, involving Professor David Alais, Johahn Leung and Tam Ho of the schools of Psychology and Medical Science, University of Sydney; Professor David Burr from the Department of Neuroscience, University of Florence; and Professor Maria Concetta Morrone of the Department of Translational Medicine, University of Pisa. With a simple experiment, they showed that sensitivity for detecting weak sounds is not constant, but fluctuates rhythmically over time. It has been known for some years that our sight perception is cyclical but this is the first time it has been demonstrated that hearing is as well. "These findings that auditory perception also goes through peaks and troughs supports the theory that perception is not passive but in fact our understanding of the world goes through cycles," said Professor Alais from the University of Sydney. "We have suspected for some time that the senses are not constant but are processed via cyclical, or rhythmic functions; these findings lend new weight to that theory." These auditory cycles happen at the rate of about six per second. This may seem fast, but not in neuroscience, given that brain oscillations can occur at up to 100 times per second.

In a Host of Ailments, Seeing a Brain Out of Rhythm - The New York Times

Dr. Llinás, the chairman of neuroscience and physiology at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine, believes that abnormal brain rhythms help account for a variety of serious disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, tinnitus and depression. His theory may explain why the technique called deep brain stimulation — implanting electrodes into particular regions of the brain — often alleviates the symptoms of movement disorders like Parkinson’s.

How singing your heart out could make you happier -- ScienceDaily

Prof Shakespeare said: "We found that singing as part of a group contributes to people's recovery from mental health problems. "The main way that Sing Your Heart Out differs from a choir is that anyone can join in regardless of ability. There's also very little pressure because the participants are not rehearsing towards a performance. It's very inclusive and it's just for fun. "The format is also different to a therapy group because there's no pressure for anyone to discuss their condition. "We heard the participants calling the initiative a 'life saver' and that it 'saved their sanity'. Others said they simply wouldn't be here without it, they wouldn't have managed -- so we quickly began to see the massive impact it was having. "All of the participants we spoke to reported positive effects on their mental health as a direct result of taking part in the singing workshops. "For some it represented one component of a wider progamme of support. For others it stood out as key to their recovery or maintenance of health. "But the key thing for everyone was that the Sing Your Heart Out model induced fun and happiness."

Repetition can make sounds into music -- ScienceDaily

"Composers and performers have been playing with repeated sound samples and speech for more than 50 years," Margulis said. "Like so much else in the cognitive science of music, this research is inspired by actual musical practice. It uses new experimental methods to pursue some of the ideas about repetition's special role in musicalization outlined in my 2014 book On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind." Researchers used digitally excised clips of 20 environmental sounds, ranging from a bee buzzing to machine noise. They played each clip a total of 10 times to measure the reaction of participants, who rated them along a spectrum from "sounded exactly like environmental sound" to "sounded exactly like music." The degree of musicality participants heard in the clips rose with repeated exposure. "In other words, sound that initially seemed unambiguously like environmental noise, through the simple act of repetition, came to sound like music," Margulis said. "The sounds themselves didn't change, but something changed in the minds of the listeners to make them seem like music. This finding can help future studies investigate the characteristics that define musical listening."

Ringo Starr's Drumming Style Was Perfect for The Beatles | L.A. Weekly

“On ‘Can’t Buy Me Love,’ Ringo’s drumming is the primal force that drives the song’s hormonal energy, all whipcrack snare and floor-tom bombast,” British journalist Ben Cardew wrote in a recent Guardian appreciation. He calls Starr’s style “a wall-of-sound hi-hat thrash that sounds like five drummers at once.”

Learning with music can change brain structure: Using musical cues to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study -- ScienceDaily

After four weeks of practice, both groups of volunteers performed equally well at learning the sequences, researchers at the University of Edinburgh found. Using MRI scans, it was found that the music group showed a significant increase in structural connectivity in the white matter tract that links auditory and motor regions on the right side of the brain. The non-music group showed no change.

Wearing a 'heart' on your sleeve can reduce stress -- ScienceDaily

To test the efficacy of doppel, the researchers exposed volunteers to a socially stressful situation and measured their physiological arousal and their reported anxiety levels. In a controlled, single-blind study, two groups of participants were asked to prepare a public speech -- a widely used psychological task that consistently increases stress. All participants wore the device on their wrist and a cover story was used to suggest to participants that the device was measuring blood pressure during the anticipation of the task. Importantly, for only one of the two groups of participants, the device was turned on and delivered a heartbeat-like vibration at a slower frequency than the participants' resting heart rate, while they were preparing their speech. The researchers measured both physiological arousal and subjective reports of anxiety. The use of doppel had a tangible and measurable calming effect across both physiological and psychological levels. Only the participants who felt the heartbeat-like vibration displayed lower increases in skin conductance responses and lower anxiety levels. "Wearable devices are becoming ubiquitous in everyday life, but across the board their primary aim is to quantify our activity. The results we got suggest that, rather than measuring ourselves, we can instead harvest our natural responses to heartbeat like rhythms in ways that can assist people in their everyday life." said Professor Tsakiris.

McCartney's backstage setup

Paul McCartney The Demands: All lamps must be halogen floor lamps with dimmer switch. Only animal free materials (cottons, denims, velour, etc.) Do not provide furniture made of any animal skin or print. Do not provide artificial versions of animal skin or print either. No leather seating is allowed in the black stretch limousine either. Arrange for a dry cleaner before arrival. 6 Full and leafy floor plants, but no trees. We want plants that are just as full on the bottom as the top such as palm, bamboo, peace lilies, etc. No tree trunks! $50.00 - One large arrangement of white Casablanca lilies with lots of foliage. $40.00 - One long stemmed arrangement of pale pink and white roses with lots of foliage. $35 One arrangement of freesia. It comes in various colors so please mix them up. Freesia is a favorite. 20 dozen clean towels outside of the production office

Hip-Hop Artists Have Been Writing About Mental Health For Decades | The Huffington Post

But Jordan Simpson took exception to this idea. A writer and slam poet, he wanted to remind everyone that musicians and rappers have been talking about – and experiencing – mental illness for decades. “To say that hip-hop artists don’t talk about mental illness is wack,” Simpson posted on Twitter. “They do, y’all just don’t listen.”

Men should avoid rock music when playing board games, say scientists -- ScienceDaily

Researchers gave the volunteers headphones that played one of three tracks -- Andante from Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, Thunderstruck by AC/DC, or the sound of an operating theatre. The team then timed them how long it took the participants to remove three body parts, as well as tracking their mistakes. The results revealed that men who listened to AC/DC were slower and made more mistakes, compared to men who listened to Mozart or the sound of an operating theatre. Thunderstruck triggered around 36 mistakes on average, while the Sonata and operating theatre noises caused 28. It took volunteers around one minute to complete the task. Women, however, did not seem to be distracted by the rock music, and none of the three tracks made any difference to performance or speed. Generally, women took longer to remove the body parts, but made fewer mistakes. The researchers are unsure why rock music affected men more than women. One explanation, they said, could be that rock music causes more auditory stress -- a state triggered by loud or discordant music -- in men.

Did you miss that musical beat? Your pupils didn’t | Science | AAAS

Even if you don’t have rhythm, your pupils do. In a new study, neuroscientists played drumming patterns from Western music, including beats typical in pop and rock, while asking volunteers to focus on computer screens for an unrelated fast-paced task that involved pressing the space bar as quickly as possible in response to a signal on the screen. Unbeknownst to the participants, the music omitted strong and weak beats at random times. (You can listen below for an example of a music clip they used. If you listen carefully, you can hear bass and hi-hat beats omitted throughout.) Eye scanners tracked the dilations of the subjects’ pupils as the music played. Their pupils enlarged when the rhythms dropped certain beats, even though the participants weren’t paying attention to the music. The biggest dilations matched the omissions of the beats in the most prominent locations in the music, usually the important first beat in a repeated set of notes. The results suggest that we may have an automatic sense of “hierarchical meter”—a pattern of strong and weak beats—that governs our expectations of music, the researchers write in the February 2017 issue of Brain and Cognition. Perhaps, the authors say, our eyes reveal clues into the importance that music and rhythm plays in our lives.

Cohen's first performance

Cohen has always found performing unnerving. His first major attempt came in 1967, when Judy Collins asked him to play at Town Hall, in New York, at an anti-Vietnam War benefit. The idea was that he would make his stage début by singing “Suzanne,” an early song of his that Collins had turned into a hit after he sang it to her on the telephone. “I can’t do it, Judy,” he told her. “I would die from embarrassment.” As Collins writes in her memoir, she finally cajoled him into it, but that night, from the wings, she could see that Cohen, “his legs shaking inside his trousers,” was in trouble. He got halfway through the first verse and then stopped and mumbled an apology. “I can’t go on,” he said and walked off into the wings. Out of sight, Cohen rested his head on Collins’s shoulder as she tried to get him to respond to the encouraging shouts from the crowd. “I can’t do it,” he said. “I can’t go back.” “But you will,” she said, and, finally, he acceded. He went out, with the crowd cheering, and finished singing “Suzanne.”

How long does it take to write a song?

Cohen went to see Dylan perform in Paris, and the next morning in a café they talked about their latest work. Dylan was especially interested in “Hallelujah.” Even before three hundred other performers made “Hallelujah” famous with their cover versions, long before the song was included on the soundtrack for “Shrek” and as a staple on “American Idol,” Dylan recognized the beauty of its marriage of the sacred and the profane. He asked Cohen how long it took him to write. “Two years,” Cohen lied. Actually, “Hallelujah” had taken him five years. He drafted dozens of verses and then it was years more before he settled on a final version. In several writing sessions, he found himself in his underwear, banging his head against a hotel-room floor. Cohen told Dylan, “I really like ‘I and I,’ ” a song that appeared on Dylan’s album “Infidels.” “How long did it take you to write that?” “About fifteen minutes,” Dylan said.

Life begins and ends with music

He took some informal guitar lessons in his twenties from a Spaniard he met next to a local tennis court. After a few weeks, he picked up a flamenco chord progression. When the man failed to appear for their fourth lesson, Cohen called his landlady and learned that the man had killed himself. In a speech many years later, in Asturias, Cohen said, “I knew nothing about the man, why he came to Montreal . . . why he appeared at that tennis court, why he took his life. . . . It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern, that has been the basis of all my songs, and all my music.”

The mathematics of music history: Patriotism in music is expressed through use of speech rhythms from the composer's native language -- ScienceDaily

Together with colleagues from London and Amsterdam, MIB postdoc Niels Chr. Hansen, analysed thousands of musical themes composed by French, Italian, and Austro-German composers living in 1600-1950. During these years, rhythmic variability in French music was initially low -- just like in Italian music and language. Later on, it increased towards the natural equilibrium for Austro-German music and language before the rhythms of French music finally diverged into two separate stylistic schools of composition.

How the brain produces consciousness in 'time slices' of .4 seconds

The new model proposes a two-stage processing of information. First comes the unconscious stage: The brain processes specific features of objects, e.g. color or shape, and analyzes them quasi-continuously and unconsciously with a very high time-resolution. However, the model suggests that there is no perception of time during this unconscious processing. Even time features, such as duration or color change, are not perceived during this period. Instead, the brain represents its duration as a kind of "number", just as it does for color and shape. Then comes the conscious stage: Unconscious processing is completed, and the brain simultaneously renders all the features conscious. This produces the final "picture", which the brain finally presents to our consciousness, making us aware of the stimulus. The whole process, from stimulus to conscious perception, can last up to 400 milliseconds, which is a considerable delay from a physiological point of view. "The reason is that the brain wants to give you the best, clearest information it can, and this demands a substantial amount of time," explains Michael Herzog. "There is no advantage in making you aware of its unconscious processing, because that would be immensely confusing." This model focuses on visual perception, but the time delay might be different for other sensory information, e.g. auditory or olfactory.

Physicists Detect Gravitational Waves, Proving Einstein Right - The New York Times

If replicated by future experiments, that simple chirp, which rose to the note of middle C before abruptly stopping, seems destined to take its place among the great sound bites of science, ranking with Alexander Graham Bell’s “Mr. Watson — come here” and Sputnik’s first beeps from orbit.

Awesome album falls between the cracks

hough now considered a classic, The Gilded Palace of Sin sold dismally. Rolling Stone critic and fellow Waycross native Stanley Booth gave it a rave review and Dylan said the album “instantly knocked me out,” but the Burritos’ music was still too rock for country audiences and too country for the rock set.

Nudie and the Cosmic American

In the late 1960s, Nudie’s son-in-law and head tailor Manuel Cuevas met Parsons and enticed him into Nudie’s shop. In addition to working for Nudie, Manuel, who goes by his first name professionally, was working on crafting the Grateful Dead’s skeleton-and-roses insignia and designing the suits for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album. Soon after, Parsons began sporting Nudie’s outlandish creations as the visual corollary to his unique sound. Nudie would hop in his custom Western-themed Cadillac convertible, with pistols for door handles, a hand-tooled leather dashboard covered in silver dollars, horseshoe hood ornaments, and steer horns jutting forth from the front grill, and drive to the clubs to hear the band play. Parsons had started a new band called the Flying Burrito Brothers with Chris Hillman, another ex-Byrd. “Nudie loved seeing Gram up on the stage, sparkling and looking so beautiful in his designs,” said photographer Raeanne Rubenstein. When it came time for the Burritos to record their debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, Nudie was the obvious choice to help put together their look.