the music instinct (doc)

the music instinct (doc) 2009 – with Bobby McFerrin:

power of music.. this collection of sounds that moves us..

bobby mcferrin (@bobbymcferrin) (

Robert Keith “Bobby” McFerrin Jr. (born November 11, 1950) is an American jazz vocalist and conductor. He is a ten-time Grammy Award winner, who is known for his unique vocal techniques, such as singing fluidly but with quick and considerable jumps in pitch—for example, sustaining a melody while also rapidly alternating with arpeggios and harmonies—as well as scat singing, polyphonic overtone singing, and improvisational vocal percussion. He is widely known for performing and recording regularly as an unaccompanied solo vocal artist. He has frequently collaborated with other artists from both the jazz and classical scenes.

McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was a No. 1 U.S. pop hit in 1988 and won Song of the Year and Record of the Year honors at the 1989 Grammy Awards. McFerrin has also worked in collaboration with instrumentalists, including pianists Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul, drummer Tony Williams, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

music feels really good.. the rhythms of our heart/breath..

experiencing things you can’t experience outside world of sound.. music is encoded into us.. our bodies.. brains.. can it make us smarter.. heal us..?

2 min – we think we just hear music.. but music actually stimulates our imagination..

why music.. not just how music evolved.. but why

daniel levitin (@danlevitin)(

Daniel Joseph Levitin, FRSC (born December 27, 1957) is an American cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, writer, musician, and record producer. He is James McGill Professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with additional appointments in music theory, computer science, and education; Director of the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill, and Dean of Social Sciences at The Minerva Schools at KGI. His TED talks (tedglobal london 2015: how to stay calm.. 2014 google talk: the org’d mind) have been viewed more than 8 million times. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC). He has appeared frequently as a guest commentator on NPR and CBC.

Levitin is the author of four consecutive best-selling books, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (2006), The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature (2008), The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload (2014) and A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age (2016). He has published scientific articles on absolute pitch, music cognition, and neuroscience.

Levitin worked as a music consultant, producer and sound designer on albums by Blue Öyster Cult, Chris Isaak, The Afflicted, and Joe Satriani among others; as a consultant on albums by artists including Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Brook; and as a recording engineer for Santana, Jonathan Richman, O.J. Ekemode and the Nigerian Allstars, and The Grateful Dead. Records and CDs to which he has contributed have sold in excess of 30 million copies


As a cognitive neuroscientist specializing in music perception and cognition, he is credited for fundamentally changing the way that scientists think about auditory memory, showing through the Levitin Effect, that long-term memory preserves many of the details of musical experience that previous theorists regarded as lost during the encoding process. He is also known for drawing attention to the role of cerebellum in music listening, including tracking the beat and distinguishing familiar from unfamiliar music.

Outside of his academic pursuits, Levitin has worked on and off as a stand-up comedian and joke writer, performing at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco with Robin Williams in 1984, …

3 min – bobby: when brought to tears from music.. is there a part of brain this music go directly..?

daniel: i think ultimately points to.. relationship between humans and sound and part of brain music goes to directly… that’s related to your deep emotions..

4 min – d: the question that got me initially into the field was: where goosebumps come from.. what’s going on in my brain that’s allowing this kind of thing to happen… why does music move us.. how do you take something as imprecise of emotion and study it..

5 min – d: people saying destroying magic of music by studying it this way.. looking for instinct

relationship w.sound.. 17-19 week old fetus.. world of sound.. breath/heartbeat/rhythm/vibration

brian greene (physicist @bgreene) ( all sound comes thru vibration.. actual vibrating wave.. actual ripple of vibrating air.. diff between one sound and another.. is the nature/details of the vibration.. ie: between instrument and clapping…

6 min – cool visual with water..ness.. we live in an ocean of vibration

evelyn glennie ( (ted: how to truly listen): music is energy..

7 min – for evelyn.. music starts with the physical fact of vibration.. deaf since childhood (age 12)… she feels the sound.. diff rhythms/pitches.. through her feet.. thru diff parts of her body

8 min – b: do you think our bodies are a large ear when we’re listening to music.. does it get into our pores.. bones..

d: yes… every object has a natural set of freq’s by which it wants to vibrate… .we can write equations for ways things vibrate.. but there’s no music in the equations.. something in our head.. makes the music..

10 min – (then he – d- goes on to explain it scientifically)… we used to think there is a music center in the brain.. don’t think that anymore.. there are music centers.. and they are spread all over the brain.. a neural symphany/orchestra… so rapid.. you never knew things were apart

12 min

daniel bernard roumain (@DBRmusic) (trailer: when someone says that music touched/moved me.. it’s very literal.. the sound of my voice is entering your ear canal.. and it’s moving your eardrum.. that’s a very intimate act.. i’m very literally touching you.. when we extend that to the sound of a violin..

you know it’s not so much the sound of the violin.. it’s the silence thereafter.. that’s the moment when.. in some ways you hear what was just said..

13 min

daniel barenboim ( sound is a very strange phenom.. what does it.. it doesn’t live in our world…… what we heard 10 sec ago in this room is gone.. and this i think is what gives music it’s really tragic element.. the fact that it can die.. the fact that it is a lifetime..every a lifetime for itself.. there is an element of penetration to the ear which gives sound.. and in the end of course.. music.. the great power that it can have..

in hospitals.. music’s connection to the body is used to study the breathing of premature babies.. and heart rates of cardiac patients..

14 min – music often echoes the rhythm of the human heart beat.. and our physical connection with music is confirmed by studies .. showing the body is a barometer of our emotional response..

d: # of ways we study the physiological effects of measure since often people can’t put into words.. ie: galvanic skin response (how much you sweat).. clip to ear (get pulse)..

15 min – d: response to music is unconscious.. music plays the body like and instrument.. and the brain makes music..

d: goosebumps happen in the brain.. i mean it feels like it’s happening in the skin but it’s the brain that’s driving them..

16 min – d: one of the last frontiers is the human brain.. we know relatively little about it

robert j zatorre ( music serves as a gateway into understanding human cognition.. there isn’t a cognitive function that doesn’t somehow pertain to music..

17 min

lawrence parsons ( if we look at music performance.. there’s no activity that we do that allows the brain to do so many activities at once..such a complicated coordination.. and with such depth… music is intrinsically social… testing singing alone and together..

19 min – lawrence: all work published in past has looked at single person’s brain doing a single experience.. it’s worth looking at.. what brain activity is involved when you do social..

brain music.png

left (singing alone).. right (with guitar and another person)

20 min – what is music.. we’re wired for sound.. so what’s diff between music and sound..

d: sound.. when org’d in a particular way can have musical qualities.. variations in pitch/timing/tamber.. all these.. elements that separate from just sound and not music..

22 min – b&d: learned.. that minor=said.. et al

23 min – b: neurons free in the beginning..  then neurons .. over time.. fused to accept this..?  d: brain starts out w millions of neurons that don’t know what to do and they’re shaped by experience.. and the process of the human child.. is the process of hooking those neurons up..into neural circuits..neural networks.. we’re all born with a music module.. that allows us to learn the rules of whatever music we’re exposed to..

d: as another element.. we associate fast tempo with energy..

24 min – d: we think of music kind of intuitively .. as an analogy..metaphor.. for the world..

25 min – how long have we had music.. why music..

26 min –

steven mithen ( what makes humans distinctive.. the way we walk/talk.. and for years.. neglected.. music.. probably one of the most distinctive characteristics of humans… finding that thru music i could engage w/my evolutionary past.. almost as much as i could looking as fossils/artifacts…so that set me on a quest.. how did this capacity/musicality evolve in our species..

steven: first instruments dating to ice age.. in europe.. 40 000 yrs ago.. ie: bone flutes made from swans.. the hollow bones of birds.. and from mammoth ivory

27 min

nicholas j conrad ( on finding flutes..

and flutes telling us how music developed.. ie: the bone flute.. made 35 000 yrs ago here (s germany).. and even older (ivory) flute found by kanard team

29 min – nicholas: also the caves.. ideal settings for music.. beautiful echoes.. acoustics..

30 min – something there that prefers consonants: smooth sounding intervals… so are there certain things about music that are universal across time and culture..

brian: so a string is a prime ie of a system that will go under periodic rhythmic motion.. as vibrating.. fundamental frequency..

31 min – the math: w/in each tone.. overtones..

33 min – after the octave (universal – learned from order).. perfect 4th and 5th.. tend to be most universal..

34 min

yo yo ma (@YoYo_Ma) ( you start with a sound.. then what do you do.. you combine it with something..the same.. different.. and that’s it.. you could put 2 notes together.. you could put 5 notes together.. and then .. everything else.. it’s .. that’s as simple as it gets.. but from those combos.. you can actually describe.. or try to describe.. and illicit in someone else’s imagination the feelings of .. joy/sadness/landscape/desire/yearning/..something..majestic/tiny/universal..

35 min – so we hear music in certain ways.. how much is shaped by the physics of sound and biology and how much by our culture..

jamshed bharucha ( the brain is the organ of culture.. it’s the biological organ of culture.. yes it comes w a lot of genetic constraints.. a huge amount..  obviously that would lead to universals in music.. but there are huge cultural differences.. (by genetic constraints.. certain predispositions) .. but we mustn’t forget that the brain is also an organ of learning.. it’s like a sponge for cultural info

kay k shelemay ( i would be cautious before i termed something a musical universal.. something close to a universal would be the octave.. and some intervals that occur often.. but i think it’s tricky.. to begin to argue hierarchies of musical sound based upon simple acoustical info.. because very often .. something that sounds very similar.. even the same.. may be conceived very very differently.. … other cultures use diff scales.. a diff # of pitches.. within an octave

37 min

christiane karam (@kaemusique) ( micro tonal system.. lot of diff intervals in a half step… so to a lot of westerners it would sound like i’m out of tune.. because i’m not landing on one or the other..

39 min – jamshed: the brain is capable of an extraordinary amount of learning and the learning takes the form of actually changing the biology.. it really changes the connection between neurons in the brain.. so that as we have grown up in a culture.. we actually come to the perceptual situation with different machinery

sandra e trehub ( (h-index of 55): you can reach those conclusions when you study arch music of diff cultures .. if you look at materials that are universally familiar w/in a culture..(lullabies for ie)..people don’t have that feeling of strangeness about them.. if you listen to lullabies.. regardless of what culture they’re from.. you have no difficulty knowing they’re lullabies.. they have this falling pitch contours.. they’re quiet.. they have a narrow pitch range.. and they’re extremely repetitive

40 min – sandra: my research looked at babies’ ability to notice changes in the context of melodies or patterns that were consonant or dissonant.. and what i found was that babies could detect very tiny differences.. if what they were listening to initially was a consonant pattern… other people then went to look.. about infants’ preferences. . and found that if you give infants a choice of listening to .. consonant music .. or dissonant music..

google: [Consonant intervals are usually described as pleasant and agreeable. Dissonant intervals are those that cause tension and desire to be resolved to consonant intervals.]

..they will actually spend more time listening to the consonant music

41 min – and is it possible that we start forming our musical preferences even before birth.. until recently .. no one even knew if we could hear music in the womb..

shiela c woodward (researcher, uni of s cali) (

video at 6 min …babies change behavior to familiar rather than unfamiliar music… music of culture .. very important to developing own id.. research between meds/music/ed…

your own song ness

sheila: how human begins begin musical development..insert hydrophone into uterus to do recordings in a liquid environment.. what we discovered was that the music itself is audible in the womb… in uterus .. sounds of mother’s body.. way for us to naturally connect to rhythms..

43 min

kathleen wermke (researcher.. uni of wuersburg) ( on entering world baby is musical..  ie: cry in musical intervals.. more than would just happen by chance.. to find minor/major thirds..even fourths and fifths..

44 min – remember .. those simple ratios of intervals are built into the physics of sound….. babies of deaf parents.. showed this too.. pref for intervals..

45 min – sheila: so the exposure of these babies’ in utero..fetal.. exposure would have been extremely limited..  when it comes to consonance/dissonance .. i think it has more to do with nature of our auditory system.. than it is with being a baby or an adult… our auditory system is designed in such a way that certain things are going to sound perhaps more pleasing than others

yungchen lhamo (

still .. how to account for varying musical systems in other cultures

46 min – kay: western notions of melody/harmony are precisely that.. western notions..there are many musical traditions in which melody and more of a horizontal musical move.. a single musical line.. is what counts.. and notions of harmony are really not what the musical tradition is about.. and the range.. of sounds that are used can sound very different..

gino sitson (@ginositson)

46 min – b: every culture has its music.. and understanding of its music in a particular way.. cultural forms/norms.. however .. as i travel around the world and meet musicians from diff countries.. as soon as we try to play and sing together.. we can easily find ways of identifying each other and who we are.. and what our stories are .. thru music.. w/o uttering a single word.. so music does have that… there are boundaries like there are boundaries country to country.. but all you have to do is walk across them…

47 min

tom fritz (researcher – max planck institute) ( doing fmri studies.. you realize there are some basic questions that are still unsolved.. you will not find answers with this really expensive equipment.. this machinery.. what is it in music that is universal.. and what is it that has an affect on us through cultural conditioning.. we org’d this expedition to n cameroon.. to very remote area.. there you can actually still find individuals who have never before in their life listened to western music..individuals who don’t go to markets where they play music..have not been to a church.. who have never before listened to radio.. a culture that is so independent from ours that we could do tests with them.. with our music and with their music..

49 min – tom: (mafa music) – this is an original.. they perform on flutes.. or horns.. made of iron and some special wax.. it’s quite astonishing.. but they really have very different ideals of what music is.. they don’t have a word for music.. but they somehow perform music on a daily basis.. and everyone can sing..

so how would they respond to western music

tom: i did a very basic/simple experiment.. to just get an understanding if they actually decode musical expressions and music pieces .. and whether they are happy, sad, or scary..

50 min – tom: i thought.. well .. someone who has never in their life heard a piano melody.. and never a piano.. and never any kind of western music melody.. can they do that (decode).. is this something that’s just inherent in the melody.. or is it something that we are culturally imprinted on by our music cultural history..

51 min – tom: they recognized the musical expression..they really can do that… basically .. it’s a simple answer.. the emotional expression of the music is inherent in the music itself.. and is not solely decodable through cultural imprinting..

52 min – so the music itself does seem to hold keys to our response.. beyond culture.. or how we might classify a work by genre..

yo-yo: how do you define a piece of music.. that’s how.. what is truth.. i think there is  a lot since there are many many different truths..contained w/in even a very simple piece of music

53 min – yo-yo: on history of bach’s 5th suite/dance.. bach didn’t invent the dance.. but he composed around it.. *so who owns the dance.. how can you just say.. this is classical music.. this is .. dead white european male music.. because which truth are you going to choose

so key to our whole thing about ownership ness.. *who owns the dance.. a lot of truths.. so no one..  so.. common\ing .. it’s how we already are..

d: there are a lot of diff factors that go into our emotional appreciation of music.. some are memories.. i’m interested in what attributes of music stay stuck in the head.. what is it.. turns out to be.. all of it.. the average person has an ex   traordinary memory for the components of music.. (recorded people on street singing fav song.. then matched it to the song.. all very close in components)

54 min – d: one of the things about musical memory is that in some respects.. songs stick in our head.. and maybe that’s because they’re supposed to.. it’s difficult to talk about these things w/o talking about evolution.. a lover out on a hunt for a long period of time wants to be remembered.. she wants him to remember her.. they have their song that they sang to each other.. that sticks in the head and that keeps them faithful.. and there’s some evolutionary advantages in that

your own song ness

55 min – so does music by its very nature somehow define us to each other and to ourselves..

does it tell us who we are.. and who we might become..

56 min

john sloboda (@johnsloboda – musician and peace activist.. n london) (

John Sloboda (born 13 June 1950) was Executive Director of the Oxford Research Group, an NGO that seeks to develop non-violent approaches to national and international security issues, from 2005-2009. He is currently Co-Director of ORG’s Every Casualty programme. He is also one of the founders of the Iraq Body Count Project.

whoa.. yes..

He was Professor of Psychology at Keele University, UK until 2008, where he now has emeritus status. His academic work has been in music psychology – a subdiscipline which draws together psychologists, neuroscientists and academic musicians. His research interests have focused on the psychological aspects of the study of music performance, the emotional response to music, the functions of music in everyday life, and learning and skill acquisition in music. More recently, he has researched the changing nature of the British anti-war movement. In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy where he is a dual member of both the Psychology and History of Music sections. Sloboda was formerly a local representative and teacher of Re-evaluation Counseling in the UK. In 2009 he joined the part-time staff of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama as Research Professor, where he currently directs their Understanding Audiences research programme.

john: the central question is.. what’s going on inside your head when music is going on… it’s not simply a tape recording.. or a replica.. you’re actually extracting something from the music.. you’re in some sense.. making sense of it.. we pick up.. cues from music.. which actually are prevalent in the whole of human behavior… the recognitions of surprise.. expectations not fulfilled..  which is very often the basis of any emotion.. we feel strong emotion when something’s happened which is not as planned.. that’s when we feel emotion.. and that’s what’s going on when we listen to music..

57 min – john: because music is highly patterned.. highly constrained.. it conforms to certain rules.. by and large.. and when those rules are broken.. deliberately.. by the composer.. through art.. we get a little.. uh.. that’s not what i expected.. now those little uhs.. if they are embedded in the right kind of context.. can create an immediate physical response..

means to leap.. for (blank)’s sake… we can..

58 min – john: one of the important feelings is this frizzle.. which is very often.. your hair standing on end.. a shiver down your spine..and one of the devices which works really well for that is something called a an/enharmonic change.. where you have a chord.. as the particular melody noted it.. and then you have a new chord which reharmonizes that same melody note.. so the same.. but different..

59 min – john: same note harmonized two ways.. and it’s that change.. which creates that frizzle..

one structural device is when something really major happens.. sooner than you’d expect.. we call that syncopation..

gershenfeld sel as syncopation.. enharmonic change..

d: i think of syncopation of stretching.. i think what people like about latin and african music is the syncopation.. they like it because there’s a sense of un predictability and that’s fun.. as long as you have some sense of where it’s going and you’re along with the adventure..

1:00 – d: you know march has its place.. you can synchronize to it.. and can often start synchronous firing.. with the beat of a march.. so your neurons are firing.. at the same rate..  this idea of rhythm and tubo (?) is very powerful at a neuro level.. it was called entrainment.. the part of the brain out here in the frontal lobe.. that is unique to humans.. connected to our most primitive part of the brain.. the cerebellum.. that all vertebrates have.. fish.. frogs.. so when you get into that kind of rhythm and it’s the cerebellum that’s locking to it.. and it’s the frontal lobe that’s trying to predict what’s going to happen next.. whether you’re aware of it or not..

1:01 – and we choose certain pieces of music .. with certain characteristics.. to make us feel a certain way

john: people have become very good at knowing what pieces of music they need to hear.. in order to change their mood in particular ways.. one of the things we want to know.. is how people integrate their music use in their everyday life.. one of the things we’ve discovered is that people use music a great deal… in transit.. it may be to shut yourself off from people who are in too close proximity to you.. helps to create a bubble around you.. because music has certain characteristics you can relate to.. and you feel you’re in company.. as you’re alone..

1:02 – d: study showing .. brain’s reward center responds to music.. regions that modulate the flow of dopamine.. responsible for mood regulation.. and again these are areas of the brain that had never been associated with music before.. they’d been associated with taking drugs.. with having sex..  now they’re associated with rock n roll…

1:03 – lawrence.. piece by strauss.. sung by his friend.. which is this moving.. that meant something to him.. (image.. so many parts of brain fired)

1:04 – music changes our state of mind.. and it turns out.. it can actually .. physically.. change our brain..

d: one of the biggest findings in past 5-10 yrs in the cognitive neuroscience of music.. has to do with what we call neuroplasticity.. and this is actually one of the biggest findings in all of neuroscience.. the brain can change itself.. and its ability to change.. to be plastic/changeable/maleable… is far greater than we ever thought..

robert: this whole idea of plasticity is quite interesting.. what we and other investigators are beginning to see is that the brain of a musician is actually/physically different


1:04 – some of the changes.. ie: areas of cortex thicker

1:05 – robert: we don’t know how this occurs.. does that mean there are more cells there.. that they are org’d differently.. that connections between are diff somehow…. also see diff’s in frontal cortex.. does most complicated/interesting things in human cognition.. planning.. higher order thinking.. language


gottfried schlaug (neurologist beth israel)( another area found in musicians.. the corpus____.. that links the two sides of the brain…. and it’s particularly enlarged in those instrumentalists that started early in their musical training compared to those that started late.. or dimentional (?) musicians..

the corpus__.. let’s both sides of the brain coord movements.. say of hands and fingers..

robert: before we did this kind of research.. we didn’t even know to ask those questions.. we didn’t know that this phenom existed.. now that we see that there are these changes.. we can look at things like.. what kinds of situations would facilitate or promote these kinds of changes..

keeping in the theme of plasticity.. we know that people are musically trained have improved auditory abilities.. but it came to our attention that blind individuals also have better acuity and hearing than the average person..

1:07 – born in peru… huaen ch’uqi ( .. childhood trauma and lost sight at age of 2.. after being adopted by fam in us.. discovered talent and passion for music..

huaen: this little song changed everything in the tinny resonance of the music box.. father.. foot accidentally kicked music box which began to play hickory dickory dock.. i was suddenly transported to somewhere else… that was how we discovered that i had .. at least.. a love for music.. at my first lesson i began at once to improvise..

1:08 – robert (?): there are many blind musicians.. part of reason why those people gravitate toward music and become very skilled is that they are able to perhaps call upon parts of the brain that normally would be handling vision.. but can be co opted to help out in some of the musical abilities.. to develop a more sensitive ear..

Oliver Sacks: tony cicoria (surgeon) ( described an extraordinary transformation.. 15 yrs ago.. surgeon with very little taste for music …tony: on phone when lightening struck.. out of body experience.. thinking.. i’m dead.. but he walked away..

1:09 – oliver: about 3 wks laters he developed .. a sudden passion.. an insatiable desire to hear piano music.. phd in neurosci.. and surgeon.. he said: as a medical man.. i can’t explain it

1:10 – cicoria.. who’d only been interested in rock n roll.. began to listen to classical music.. took piano lessons.. and then started to compose..

oliver: he had a dream one night and when he woke up.. his own music was pouring thru his mind.. and he was desperate to play/transcribe it..

cicoria: that was music from the dream (played) actually that was the final chorus that woke me up out of a sound sleep and from that point on i would sit down and just start to play.. and it never seemed to change.. go away.. just always there… if you’d come to me w a story like this.. i would have thought.. you’ve got a few loose screws here.. but suddenly.. i’m one of those.. i have no explanation for it.. in talking with sacks.. he thinks that part of my brain’s been rewired.. and certainly.. i think some extent that’s true

so.. since we’re near death.. let’s rewire us..

we can..

1:11 – oliver: one often thinks one’s plasticity.. one’s ability to learn.. one’s ability to do anything new.. ends with childhood.. it clearly doesn’t..

the brain changes..even in adulthood

1:12 – steven wanted to see if music could change his brain.. the brain of a non-musician.. he asked lawrence to scan his brain before and after singing lessons..

lawrence: using blood as an indicator.. after year.. more blood ..

steven: before started.. wasn’t much activity.. i was just hearing sounds.. not music… i was astonished.. that in a year.. i could manipulate my brain in that way… i still didn’t sing very well.. but that was a fascinating experiment

1:13 – if music changes the brain.. what does that mean for education.. can musical training help children improve in other skills..

ugh.. please don’t go there..

d: there’s been a kind of practical side of music research.. trying to figure out if music can make you *smarter..

yeah.. school smarter.. ugh..

d: emerging evidence from carefully controlled studies is that.. learning to play an instrument.. not just passively listening.. learning to play .. early on.. can actually confer some cognitive advantages..

gottfried: there are skills that are closely related to musical training that musicians might out perform non musicians…. ie: motor/auditory skills.. what has been a debate about.. is whether or not there are other skills that might be enhance thru musical training as well.. such as visual/spacial/vocab/math skills..

of course math is in there.. drives money lenders..

1:14 – he’s confirmed that children around 10 yrs old who have had musical training did improve in those other skills..

gottfriend: so there was an effect in their vocab skills.. and in a visual test..

and a recent study in germany shows music training seems to help children learn verbal language.. even beyond vocab skills… members of famous st thomas boys choir in leibsig were subjects for the study

sebastian jentschke (neuroscientist max planck institute)( the boys in the boys choir are a very good ie of a higher mode of musical training.. wanted to see if training improved process of linguistical syntax (structure of language.. the grammar).. most important issue.. showed it improved linguistics.. shows it’s important to play musical instrument.. doesn’t only improve perception of music.. but also other cognitive domains..

1:16 – robert: we’re talking about a very particular type of training that leads to being smarter in certain things.. musical training.. and probably other types of training as well.. have repercussions on brain anatomy.. until a few years ago.. no one really had an inkling that this was going on..


of course the voice is also a musical instrument.. and the key is not just listening.. but doing it…

many musicians believe that early musical training has great impact…ddr.. started playing in public school… started work in schools after cut backs

1:17 – daniel: were it not for the violin.. my life would be very different.. music not only changed my life.. i feel it saved my life.. so of course.. the question is.. how many lives are being lost now.. you know.. – @DBRmusic

the program he started.. called young composers.. is run by the orchestra of st lukes.. it starts early..learning to compose music even if can’t play an instrument.. even if can’t read music..

1:18 – daniel: i say.. we can take a story and set it to music.. what instrument should this character be.. they reply .. a flute..  ok.. what instrument for this character.. and they’ll reply.. a drum kit.. by doing this.. it’s a way for them to think about music.. well.. in nonmusical terms..

1:19 – other daniel (pianist): i grew up in where music was most natural form of expression.. both parents played.. and this naturalness.. the act of making music and listening to music.. this is what i want children to know.. (music kindergarten in middle east) .. get in contact w music.. a sound.. tell story.. then thru that .. they learn all things children learn in kindergarten.. playfulness… affection..  you learn that thru music.. makes me wish i was 3 yrs old again..

1:20 – d: story hasn’t been fully worked out.. but it looks as though if you learn to play an instrument early.. you learn to read at an earlier age.. more quickly.. better at math.. better at a variety of scholastic topics..

oy.. let’s not ruin it with this.. better at being schooled.. because you now have this strength.. safety net.. of music.. to uphold the vol compliance ness of .. scholastic ness..

d: and we’re not exactly sure why this is but it seems as though learning to play an instrument trains attentional networks in the anterior singulet girus..

or.. it gives you detox energies..

d: nobody is saying that music does it uniquely.. but we’re saying that music does seem to do it..

oy..  ruining your whole story here.. compromising human spirit.. music spirit.. for scholastic verification.. that is so .. not us..

please stop

1:21 – oliver: the investigation of music can take neuroscience to a higher level and to a degree of complexity which it hasn’t had before.. as a physician.. it only hit me in hospital in bronx.. patients.. had parkinsons.. et al.. nurses said.. they can be transformed by music..not just the rhythm.. everything in music carries one along

brain imaging shows a strong connection between the auditory and motor regions of the brain.. one reason the rhythm of music helps parkinsons patients..

1:22 – robert: what we’re attempting to understand here is this communication between the motor and auditory systems.. when you hear music.. everyone.. you don’t have to be musically trained.. a child even.. will start to rhythmically move or dance.. music seems to engage the motor system in a way which other modalities do not.. by achieving this understanding we think it will have a lot of application.. people who have motor disorders.. like for instance in parkinsons disease.. can be having a rhythm track.. so their walking can be improved.. if their actions are accompanied by music.. maybe if we understood the mechanisms that lead to these changes.. maybe we could come up with rehabilitation techniques.. that would kind of patch up the areas that might have been damaged.. now this is sort of sci fi.. but those are some of the implications..

1:23 – robert: i think there are definite potential applications in the future for aging.. and music might have a role to play there..

quartet ness

oliver: however severe a dementia.. even if people have lost language.. they almost never seem to lose the memory or the response to music..this seems to be much more deeply in the brain.. and so that even severely demented people will recognize old songs and be delighted by them

one study shows long and short term memory improvement in patients receiving music therapy..

1:24 – music is also being used to help stroke patients..sometimes it helps improve movement… sometimes music helps stroke patients having trouble with language/speech..

darlene monda (speech therapist) ( repetition score before music sessions.. in the 70s.. by end of music therapy sessions.. her repetition on an immediate task in speech improved up into the 90s.. really significant..

oliver: with speech.. you have to invest in probably many dozens of hours of intensive therapy.. intermediate stages.. melodic intonation.. having people sing little phrases

1:25 – used with patients that have afacia (sp?).. they can understand but have trouble speaking

gottfried: typically characterized by have a relatively large stroke to left side of brain.. so far what we have learned is that two essential components to melodic intonation therapy.. 1\ the melodic intonation or continuous voicing  2\ the tapping with the left hand at the rate that syllables are produced by patient and the therapist to engage a sensory motor network… the melodic intonation seems to engage areas in the right side of the brain.. and right side (used sci words) seems to be better equipped in recognizing the overall structure..contour of a piece… patients not able to speak at all.. now.. can express most basic needs.. very gratifying

1:26 – d (?): understanding how the brain is wired ultimately .. can help us come up with treatments for stroke and tumors.. lessions of the brain.. all kinds of brain damage that people undergo.. and that’s the practical hope.. that we will be able to come up with better medicinal interventions

1:27 – new debate about when how why each ability developed in brain

1:28 – b & g and gang: in it all being in the tone.. and wondering about.. if music is separate..

research supporting argument of separation.. this woman has no ear for music..

isabelle peretz ( emily is suffering from life long musical disabilities .. she cannot perceive pitch.. musical pitch in a normal way..

and some stroke patients who can’t speak.. can still do music

isabelle: the fact that you can dis associate music from language suggests strongly that two systems.. music and language.. are separate faculties..

but the case is not closed


aniruddh – ani – patel (neurobiologist) ( i think there’s a lot more connectivity in these systems in the brain than’s generally been believed.. we also see thru brain imaging that there are other things that are shared between language and music.. (more evidence of connection between music and language).. for ie: i might ask somebody.. does this sound like english or french music… and then play another clip.. and people are generally very good at guessing which is which… there’s more of a tendency for longer vowels to alt with shorter vowels in english and you can apply exactly those same measurements to notes in music.. so you kind of make an analogy between vowels in language and notes in music

1:30 – ani: what’s happening.. is that when we learn our native language.. part of what we learn as a native speaker is the timing/rhythm.. and we extract that as listeners .. and composers do too when they make their music.. i think that we recruit parts of the language system when we process music.. and we incorporate it into this wonderful set of brain networks that we use to understand/make-sense-of music

1:31 – ani: i think music is an ie of an invention.. a human invention.. that we created.. that transforms human life..

steven: i think what definitely comes before language.. is musicality.. and i think the capacity for musicality.. for appreciating rhythm..for using variations in pitch..for developing melodies.. that all comes long before language..

steven: one of the ___ system i worked is steven pinker’s book called how the mind works.. fantastic book.. but i think he got something extraordinarily wrong in that book.. he came out with the idea that music is purely a technical invention.. it’s something that is a spin off from language.. something that’s recent and of no deep significance to human kind.. i think it’s totally wrong..

steven pinker

1:32 – steven pinker wrote that music is simply.. auditory cheesecake.. a pleasurable offshoot of our linguistic ability..

steven pinker (cog sci harvard) ( many people.. including many scientists want music to be an adaptation because they feel that would ratify its value in human life.. it would be noble it.. make it part of our nature..but i think we should resist that.. that it may indeed be part of our nature.. but it may not necessarily be an adaptation in a biologist sense.. .. unlike other traits.. fear of heights; language; sexual desire; .. where it’s fairly straight forward to see.. how it would have enhanced reproduction and is not so obvious..

1:33 – (?): darwin asked in the origin of the species these very questions .. and he had a plausible hypothesis.. his idea was sexual selection.. music made the male of the species more attractive to the female.. it showed the male who had mastered music.. had a certain amount of cognitive and physical flexibility.. but i’m leaning toward the idea that music may have helped to facilitate culture building…it is very much rule based for how the different participants are going to come together in a lawful fashion.. and that is really a foundation of society..

maybe we’re built to like music.. so we associate something we need… say culture building.. with reward..

1:34 – steven (mithen): how can we respond so emotionally/intuitively to music.. if it isn’t something that’s really deeply embedded in our biology.. how could that be… we really do need to go and look at the fossil record.. what we can try to deduce is the evolution of the vocal tracts.. the evolution of the body.. because the first musical instrument we had.. probably the most important one we still have.. is the human body..

the discovery of part of neanderthal’s vocal tract led mithen to a theory

steven: here we can see a cast of a neanderthal.. in many ways.. looks almost identical to homo sapien.. close cousins.. could make a vast array of sounds.. just as we do today.. (perhaps a bit more nasal w larger noses).. some were saying..that’s just that they had language.. but when you look at that habitat… i don’t think there’s any sign of language there at all..

some experts disagree.. but mithen argues that neanderthal developed more advanced tools in a way that would have required language… nor does he see proof that they used symbols

1:35 – steven: language is a system of symbols.. and there’s no evidence at all for them having to made any material symbols.. so we don’t have any paintings/carvings/figurative-art… if they weren’t using language.. what are they using these fantastic vocal tracts for.. so i think vocal tract was used for singing mainly.. for making music..

1:36 – steven: so i think they had a sophisticated form of communication that was based not on words but on what are called.. holistic phrases.. it’s a musical phrase.. but it doesn’t break down into separate little meanings.. like each note has a diff meaning.. it just means a complete meaning in itself.. and indeed.. i think this wasn’t used only by the neanderthals.. but by the direct ancestors and homo sapiens in africa.. and it’s from this ancient communication system.. that our capacity for language and for music evolved..

steven: i think it had a lot of movement in it as well.. gesture.. body.. posture… merging into dance..

1:37 – sandra: you know in many cultures people can’t imagine the notion that you would listen to music.. you would hear the same thing over and over again.. you wouldn’t be there to see the movements of the people making the music..

d: we’re talking about receiving info thru more than one sensory modality.. are you talking about not just the visual awareness of performers gestures but also the feel of the drums underneath your skin

sandra: uh huh.. and it happens on both sides.. on part of performer and on part of audience.. so the audience is seeing/hearing.. in some cases touching.. it may be feeling vibrations.. but in the case say.. of a mother singing to an infant.. it may often be physical contact.. music is not normally separated from movement.. or from dance.. so there are many cultures who don’t even have a separate word for music and movement..

d: i think the broader picture here.. in terms of music and the brain informing each other.. is that in *fact.. music and the brain co evolved.. if you go back 10s of 1000s of years.. looking at little steps where music changed.. and then the brain accommodated in some small way.. and then music changed again and then brain changed again.. and you’re really not looking at them evolving independently..

*not questioning it.. but questioning using the word fact

1:38 – ani: we’ll never be able to go back and time and see which came first.. music or language or the precise origins.. but i think one of the things we can do.. is use ideas about evolution to motivate experiments and empirical studies that we can do.. one of the interesting ideas.. if we’re so specially wired up for music in the way that people think we are for language.. then we should be able to id things we do that other animals cannot learn to do

ani: one thing that’s been fascinating to me over last several years is this issue of synchronization (can can girls in background)

humans can move in time.. synchronize to a beat

ani: been trying to find evidence from other species whether or not they can learn to move w a musical beat or to produce a musical beat synchronously… and very recently .. we’ve found that there is at least one other species.. that does seem to respond to music in this rhythmic way..a bird.. a cockatoo

1:39 – studies of brains of birds with local learning to learn song structure is linked to motor skills

ani: video of this bird gone viral.. eliciting many questions.. first question.. is it real.. well.. it’s real.. not imitating owner et al.. second question.. how flexible is it.. can he dance to other songs.. and he does.. can he adjust his tempo to the same song.. yes.. w/in a limited range..

1:40 – ani: this is real musical synchronization.. and this shows that this ability is not something that you need a human brain to do

so.. he’s saying.. music not special/unique adaptation to humans.. something we need for its own sake.. needed to survive..

ani: if a bird can do something we think of as genuinely musical.. like moving to the beat of music.. to me that suggests that that doesn’t require natural selection for/from (?) music

but what if possibility that some other species did themselves evolve musical ability… that they too needed music..

1:41 – lawrence: people looking at activity by other animal species that looks comparable to human music.. so one exciting new finding.. study of plain tailed wrens.. songbird.. showing sync choruses of these birds.. we don’t know what it means to them..

1:42 – ani: we say birds sing.. so isn’t that music.. but if you look more closely at what animals do with their vocalizations.. they’re lots of things about them that i think are different from music.. animals tend to use their vocalization for very specific functional reasons.. to attract/defend

birdsong researchers analyze the vocalizations.. searching for clues to why/how birds sing..ofer..records zebra finch songs and finds music like structure..

ofer tchernichovski ( i don’t know if birdsong and music song are the same.. but i think that they share something.. as a scientist.. i like to follow beauty.. can hear detail/structure when slow bird song down..

1:43 – ofer: image of what you just looked at.. see the vibrato right here.. the crescendo.. those are the two harmonic sounds..

david r became a student of birdsong.. he even plays his clarinet with birds.. he’s so convinced they are making music

david rothenberg ( people say sometimes.. rothenberg doesn’t believe that male birds sing to attract mates and defend territories.. it’s not true.. it’s not that i don’t believe that .. if that’s what the song is for.. but that’s not what the song is.. what is it.. it’s really music.. the more i investigated this .. the more i realized.. each species is a world unto itself in terms of how it learns song.. how it uses sound..

david: hump back whale song is different than the sounds of any other animal in the fact that it’s so long and so complex.. it’s really.. not so much just a bunch of moans.. and shrieks.. but an organized series of patterns..over and over again.. so this is very remarkable.. that this giant animal evolved this ability to learn these complex songs….ie: speed it up.. it’s like a birdsong

1:45 – david: there’s some sense of pattern.. rhythm and form.. of music in the animal world.. that’s common at different levels of organization.. i would say that just as people have id’d diff visual patterns.. ie: shells & visual symmetry.. et al.. the same thing is going on in sound..

steven (piano guy): i think the universe is musical.. music is both inside and outside the world.. music is inside the world.. there fore it is universal.. it speaks to people who had centuries of contact with music in vienna.. and it also speaks to the little villages in palestine.. but is only a physical phenom.. whenever somebody plays..  it gets a human dimension..

1:46 – brian: you can phrase a lot of interesting phenom in the universe in terms of music or at least in terms of an analogy with music.. for instance.. i work on a field called string theory.. which is an approach to describing the fundamental constituents of matter… says.. inside of all particles is a little tiny string.. that vibrates.. so sort of like the string on a violin would vibrate.. and the equations that we use to describe the vibrations of these little tiny strings at the heart of matter is very close in structure to the equations that we use to describe the motion of a string on a violin…

1:47 – brian: in a sense.. what we’re saying is.. that if string theory is correct.. at the heart of matter is music..

and music echoes the cosmos in other ways… big bang created waves.. and micro background radiation..

1:48 – even black holes have pitches..

brian: but .. 57 octaves below any b flat we could hear… in a way it is totally remarkable… the way in which a single idea that can move us in a concert hall is at work in the cosmos.. it’s all a matter of the same underlying phenom.. vibration.. and vibration is so apparent in the universe.. that you see the unifying thread..

1:49 – so if music is somehow in the world.. is it in face in us.. has it always been in us.. because we need it.. simply for itself..

d: i come to this from a kind of bias.. that the human genome is crowded.. we only have about 22 or 23 thousand genes.. and that’s not a lot to do all that they have to do… the vast majority of our genes are doing kind of housekeeping functions..if something is in there .. it’s there for a reason.. that’s my bias.. if music’s been in there.. for as long as we think it has.. it must be serving some evolutionary function.. otherwise the genome would have kicked it out….. so.. why music.. is the question..

d: what was the compelling force that drove us to music..

robert: it’s gotta be group cohesion and it’s gotta be building group cohesion as a way to align people’s brain states…one of the interesting developments in the last few years is that we are moving from a study of an individual brain to the study of a society of brains.. and music serves to synchronize our brain states..

mech/chip as music/sync.. rhythm of everyday ness.. temp placebo.. to get us back to dancing/hearing/seeing/moving us..

1:50 – b: i’ve had musical moments where i’ve locked myself into some motif.. it literally feels like i’ve gotten to a place where i’m not longer singing and i can’t stop… like it’s coming through..

d: that loss of me as a separate entity from others.. the barriers sort of drop and you feel this sort of unity.. and you get the sense of something larger than yourself happening.. and then you look around and you see there’s this whole crowd of people that are locked into it.. getting all these chemicals shooting thru your brain.. that are changing your mood and your state.. you’ve got this neuro firing that’s completely synchronized..then you see everyone else is experiencing the same thing… and you begin to feel part of a larger whole..

how to sync us..

a nother way

1:51 – music connects us.. to ourselves.. and to others..

b: the thing that’s wonderful for me.. is that you create these of strangers.. i’ve had experiences where at the end of a concert.. and i’ve given the audience a certain part of something to sing.. and the

concert is over.. yet they will continue to sing.. and they will leave the hall singing.. because the music that took place might have come out of me.. but it went into them and became all of us.. and we took that out..

so why music.. it’s written into our very being.. science is showing that song lies at the core of life..




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