lunedì 10 ottobre 2016

8. My Favorite Things Why Do We Like the Music We Like? - LEVITINE our brain on music

8. My Favorite Things Why Do We Like the Music We Like?Read more at location 3673
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Inside the womb, surrounded by amniotic fluid, the fetus hears sounds. It hears the heartbeat of its mother, at times speeding up, at other times slowing down. And the fetus hears music, as was recently discovered by Alexandra Lamont of Keele University in the UK. She found that, a year after they are born, children recognize and prefer music they were exposed to in the womb.Read more at location 3680
She found that, a year after they are born, children recognize and prefer music they were exposed to in the womb.Read more at location 3682
one year later, Lamont played babies the music that they had heard in the womb, along with another piece of music chosen to be matched for style and tempo.Read more at location 3688
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Lamont then determined which one the babies preferred.Read more at location 3691
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How do you know which of two stimuli a preverbal infant prefers?Read more at location 3691
a technique known as the conditioned head-turning procedure, developed by Robert Fantz in the 1960s, and refined by John Columbo, Anne Fernald, the late Peter Jusczyk, and their colleagues. Two loudspeakers are set up in the laboratory and the infant is placed (usually on his mother’s lap) between the speakers. When the infant looks at one speaker, it starts to play music or some other sound, and when he looks at the other speaker, it starts to play different music or a different sound. The infant quickly learns that he can control what is playing by where he is looking; he learns, that is, that the conditions of the experiment are under his control. The experimenters make sure that they counterbalance (randomize) the location that the different stimuli come from; that is, half the time the stimulus under study comes from one speaker and half the time it comes from the other. When Lamont did this with the infants in her study, she found that they tended to look longer at the speaker that was playing music they had heard in the wombRead more at location 3692
conditioned head-turning procedure,Read more at location 3692
speaker that was playing music they had heard in the wombRead more at location 3699
A control group of one-year-olds who had not heard any of the music before showed no preference,Read more at location 3700
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Lamont also found that, all things being equal, the young infant prefers fast, upbeat music to slow music.Read more at location 3701
childhood amnesia—thatRead more at location 3703
It appears that for music even prenatal experience is encoded in memory, and can be accessed in the absence of language or explicit awareness of the memory.Read more at location 3709
the Mozart Effect”).Read more at location 3712
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U.S. congressmen were passing resolutions, the governor of Georgia appropriated funds to buy a Mozart CD for every newborn baby Georgian.Read more at location 3714
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the actual study that claimed this contained many scientific flaws.Read more at location 3716
Personally, I found all the hubbub a bit offensive because the implication was that music should not be studied in and of itself, or for its own right, but only if it could help people to do better on other, “more important” things.Read more at location 3718
If I claimed that studying mathematics helped musical ability, would policy makers start pumping money into math for that reason?Read more at location 3720
Music has often been the poor stepchild of public schools, the first program to get cut when there are funding problems, and people frequently try to justify it in terms of its collateral benefits, rather than letting music exist for its own rewards.Read more at location 3721
The problem with the “music makes you smarter” study turned out to be straightforward: The experimental controls were inadequate,Read more at location 3722
tiny difference in spatial abilityRead more at location 3723
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Compared to sitting in a room and doing nothing, music listening looked pretty good. But if subjects in the control task were given the slightest mental stimulation—hearing a book on tape, reading, etc.—there was no advantage for music listening.Read more at location 3725
Another problem with the study was that there was no plausible mechanism proposed by which this might work—how could music listening increase spatial performance?Read more at location 3726
Glenn Schellenberg has pointed out the importance of distinguishing short-term from long-term effects of music. The Mozart Effect referred to immediate benefits,Read more at location 3728
Gottfried SchlaugRead more at location 3730
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the front portion of the corpus callosum—the mass of fibers connecting the two cerebral hemispheres—is significantly larger in musicians than nonmusicians, and particularly for musicians who began their training early.Read more at location 3730
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larger cerebellums than nonmusicians, and an increased concentration of gray matter;Read more at location 3735
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Whether these structural changes in the brain translate to enhanced abilities in nonmusical domains has not been proven,Read more at location 3738
So the seeds of musical preference are sown in the womb, but there must be more to the story than that, or children would simply gravitate toward the music their mothersRead more at location 3742
What we can say is that musical preferences are influenced, but not determined, by what we hear in the womb.Read more at location 3744
acculturation,Read more at location 3745
There were reports a few years ago that prior to becoming used to the music of a foreign (to us) culture, all infants prefer Western music to other musics, regardless of their culture or race.Read more at location 3745
infants do show a preference for consonance over dissonance. Appreciating dissonance comes later in life, and people differ in how much dissonance they can tolerate.Read more at location 3747
Appreciating dissonance comes later in life,Read more at location 3748
There is probably a neural basis for this. Consonant intervalsRead more at location 3748
separate mechanismsRead more at location 3749
neurons in the primary auditory cortex—the first level of cortical processing for sound—synchronize their firing rates during dissonant chords, but not during consonant chords. Why that would create a preference for consonance is not yet clear.Read more at location 3751
transpositionsRead more at location 3755
Jenny SaffranRead more at location 3756
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Laurel TrainorRead more at location 3756
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evidence that infants can also attend to absolute-pitch cues if the task requires it, suggesting a cognitive flexibility previously unknown:Read more at location 3757
absolute-pitchRead more at location 3757
if the task requires it, suggesting a cognitive flexibility previously unknown:Read more at location 3758
Note: ALTEZZE Edit
Trehub, Dowling, and others have shown that contour is the most salient musical feature for infants, who can detect contour similarities and differences even across thirty seconds of retention.Read more at location 3759
contour is the most salient musical feature for infants,Read more at location 3759
detect contour similarities and differences even across thirty seconds of retention.Read more at location 3760
Note: MELODIA Edit
Fernald and Trehub have documented the ways in which parents speak differently to infants than to older children and adults, and this holds across cultures. The resulting manner of speaking uses a slower tempo, an extended pitch range, and a higher overall pitch level. Mothers (and to a lesser extent, fathers) do this quite naturally without any explicit instructionRead more at location 3764
parents speak differently to infants than to older children and adults, and this holds across cultures.Read more at location 3764
The resulting manner of speaking uses a slower tempo, an extended pitch range, and a higher overall pitch level.Read more at location 3765
motherese helps to call the babies’ attention to the mother’s voice, and helps to distinguish words within the sentence. Instead of saying, as we would to an adult, “This is a ball,” motherese would entail something like, “Seeeeee?” (with the pitch of the eee’s going up to the end of the sentence). “See the BAAAAAALLLLLL?” (with the pitch covering an extended range and going up again at the end of the word ball).Read more at location 3768
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Trehub also showed that infants are more able to encode consonant intervals such as perfect fourth and perfect fifth than dissonant ones, like the tritone.Read more at location 3776
infants are more able to encode consonant intervals such as perfect fourth and perfect fifth than dissonant ones,Read more at location 3776
perfect fourth and perfect fifth than dissonant ones, like the tritone.Read more at location 3777
In other words, our brains and the musical scales we use seem to have coevolved. It is no accident that we have the funny, asymmetric arrangement of notes in the major scale:Read more at location 3784
Very early in childhood, most children start to spontaneously vocalize, and these early vocalizations can sound a lot like singing.Read more at location 3787
The more music they hear, the more likely they are to include pitch and rhythmic variations in their spontaneous vocalizations.Read more at location 3789
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Young children start to show a preference for the music of their culture by age two,Read more at location 3790
At first, children tend to like simple songs, where simple means music that has clearly defined themesRead more at location 3791
and chord progressions that resolve in direct and easily predictable ways.Read more at location 3792
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As they mature, children start to tire of easily predictable music and search for music that holds more challenge.Read more at location 3793
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Researchers point to the teen years as the turning point for musical preferences. It is around the age of ten or eleven that most children take on music as a real interest,Read more at location 3810
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As adults, the music we tend to be nostalgic for, the music that feels like it is “our” music, corresponds to the music we heard during these years. One of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease (a disease characterized by changes in nerve cells and neurotransmitter levels, as well as destruction of synapses) in older adults is memory loss. As the disease progresses, memory loss becomes more profound. Yet many of these old-timers can still remember how to sing the songs they heard when they were fourteen.Read more at location 3811
There doesn’t seem to be a cutoff point for acquiring new tastes in music, but most people have formed their tastes by the age of eighteen or twenty. Why this is so is not clear, but several studies have found it to be the case. Part of the reason may be that in general, people tend to become less open to new experiences as they age.Read more at location 3819
most people have formed their tastes by the age of eighteen or twenty.Read more at location 3820
clear, but several studies have found it to be the case.Read more at location 3821
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people tend to become less open to new experiences as they age.Read more at location 3821
During our teenage years, we begin to discover that there exists a world of different ideas, different cultures, different people.Read more at location 3822
Note: ADOLESC Edit
We also seek out different kinds of music. In Western culture in particular, the choice of music has important social consequences. We listen to the music that our friends listen to. Particularly when we are young, and in search of our identity, we form bonds or social groups with people whom we want to be like, or whom we believe we have something in common with.Read more at location 3824
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This ties into the evolutionary idea of music as a vehicle for social bonding and societal cohesion.Read more at location 3827
To some degree, we might say that personality characteristics are associated with, or predictive of, the kind of music that people like.Read more at location 3829
to a large degree, it is determined by more or less chance factors: where you went to school, who you hung out with, what music they happened to be listening to.Read more at location 3830
chance factors:Read more at location 3830
hung out with, what music they happened to be listening to.Read more at location 3831
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new connections at an explosive rate throughout adolescence,Read more at location 3834
but this slows down substantially after our teenage years,Read more at location 3835
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new music becomes assimilated within the framework of the music we were listening to during this critical period.Read more at location 3836
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critical periodsRead more at location 3837
If a child doesn’t learn language by the age of six or so (whether a first or a second language), the child will never learn to speak with the effortlessness that characterizes most native speakers of a language. Music and mathematics have an extended window, but not an unlimited one: If a student hasn’t had music lessons or mathematical training prior to about age twenty, he can still learn these subjects, but only with great difficulty, and it’s likely that he will never “speak” math or music like someone who learned them early. This is because of the biological course for synaptic growth. The brain’s synapses are programmed to grow for a number of years, making new connections. After that time, there is a shift toward pruning, to get rid of unneeded connections. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to reorganize itself. Although in the last five years there have been some impressive demonstrations of brain reorganization that used to be thought impossible, the amount of reorganization that can occur in most adults is vastly less than can occur in children and adolescents.Read more at location 3837
the age of sixRead more at location 3837
Music and mathematicsRead more at location 3839
age twenty,Read more at location 3840
never “speak” math or music like someone who learned them early.Read more at location 3841
is a shift toward pruning, to get rid of unneeded connections.Read more at location 3842
adults is vastly less than can occur in children and adolescents.Read more at location 3845
The balance between simplicity and complexity in music also informs our preferences. Scientific studies of like and dislike across a variety of aesthetic domains—painting, poetry, dance, and music—have shown that an orderly relationship exists between the complexity of an artistic work and how much we like it. Of course, complexity is an entirely subjective concept. In order for the notion to make any sense, we have to allow for the idea that what seems impenetrably complex to Stanley might fall right in the “sweet spot” of preference for Oliver.Read more at location 3851
In a sense, schemas are everything. They frame our understanding; they’re the system into which we place the elements and interpretations of an aesthetic object. Schemas inform our cognitive models and expectations. With one schema, Mahler’s Fifth is perfectly interpretable, even upon hearing it for the first time:Read more at location 3856
Note: SCHEMI Edit
listeners will be aware that most symphonies from Haydn to Brahms and Bruckner typically begin and end in the same key. Mahler flouts this convention with his Fifth, moving from C-sharp minor to A minor and finally ending in D major. If you had not learned to hold in your mind a sense of key as the symphony develops, or if you did not have a sense of the normal trajectory of a symphony, this would be meaningless; but for the seasoned listener, this flouting of convention brings a rewarding surprise, a violation of expectations, especially when such key changes are done skillfully so as not to be jarring.Read more at location 3862
Lacking a proper symphonic schema, or if the listener holds another schema, perhaps that of an aficionado of Indian ragas, Mahler’s Fifth is nonsensicalRead more at location 3867
When a musical piece is too simple we tend not to like it, finding it trivial. When it is too complex, we tend not to like it, finding it unpredictable—we don’t perceive it to be grounded in anything familiar.Read more at location 3869
the right balance between simplicity and complexity in order for us to like it. Simplicity and complexity relate to familiarity, and familiarity is just another word for a schema.Read more at location 3871
What is “too simple” or “too complex”Read more at location 3873
An operational definition is that we find a piece too simple when we find it trivially predictable, similar to something we have experienced before, and without the slightest challenge.Read more at location 3874
predictable,Read more at location 3874
to something we have experienced before, and without the slightest challenge.Read more at location 3875
indeterminacy leads to tension and expectations, and the tension is finally released when the game is over.Read more at location 3879
When music is too predictable, the outcome too certain, and the “move” from one note or chord to the next contains no element of surprise, we find the music unchallenging and simplistic.Read more at location 3885
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Of course, different people, with different personality types, react differently to such unanticipated journeys, musical or vehicular. Some react with sheer panic (“That Stravinsky is going to kill me!”) and some react with a sense of adventure at the thrill of discovery (“Coltrane is doing something weird here, but what the hell, it won’t hurt me to stick around awhile longer, I can take care of my harmonic self and find my way back to musical reality if I have to”).Read more at location 3894
analogy with games,Read more at location 3897
Music that involves too many chord changes, or unfamiliar structure, can lead many listeners straight to the nearest exit, or to the “skip” button on their music players.Read more at location 3904
The structure presents a steep learning curve, and the novice can’t be sure that the time invested will be worth it.Read more at location 3907
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People may tell you that Schönberg is brilliant, or that Tricky is the next Prince, but if you can’t figure out what is going on in the first minute or so of one of their pieces, you may find yourself wondering if the payoff will justify the effortRead more at location 3908
Structural processing is one source of difficulty in appreciating a new piece of music.Read more at location 3918
The orderly relationship between complexity and liking is referred to as the inverted-U function because of the way a graph would be drawn that relates these two factors. Imagine a graph in which the x-axis is how complex a piece of music is (to you) and the y-axis is how much you like it.Read more at location 3954
relationship between complexity and liking is referred to as the inverted-U functionRead more at location 3954
(to you) and the y-axis is how much you like it.Read more at location 3955
The inverted-U hypothesis is not meant to imply that the only reason you might like or dislike a piece of music is because of its simplicity or complexity. Rather, it is intended to account for this variable. The elements of music can themselves form a barrier to appreciation of a new piece of music.Read more at location 3961
But even the dynamic range of a piece—the disparity between the loudest and softest parts—can cause some people to reject it. This can be especially true for people who use music to regulate their mood in a specific way. Someone who wants music to calm her down, or someone else who wants music to pep him up for a workout, is probably not going to want to hear a musical piece that runs the loudness gamut all the way from very soft to very loud, or emotionally from sad to exhilarating (as does Mahler’s Fifth, for example).Read more at location 3964
Pitch can also play into preference. Some people can’t stand the thumping low beats of modern hip-hop, others can’t stand what they describe as the high-pitched whininess of violins. Part of this may be a matter of physiology; literally, different ears may transmit different parts of the frequency spectrum, causing some sounds to appear pleasant and others aversive.Read more at location 3969
Rhythm and rhythmic patterns influence our ability to appreciate a given musical genre or piece. Many musicians are drawn to Latin music because of the complexity of the rhythms. To an outsider, it all just sounds “Latin,” but to someone who can make out the nuances of when a certain beat is strong relative to other beats, Latin music is a whole world of interesting complexity: bossa nova, samba, rhumba, beguine, mambo, merengue, tango—each is a completely distinct and identifiable style of music.Read more at location 3972
For other listeners, rhythms that are too simple are the deal-breaker for a style of music. The typical complaint of my parents’ generation about rock and roll, apart from how loud it seemed to them, was that it all had the same beat.Read more at location 3978
Timbre is another barrier for many peopleRead more at location 3980
The first time I heard John Lennon or Donald Fagen sing, I thought the voices unimaginably strange. I didn’t want to like them. Something kept me going back to listen, though—perhaps it was the strangeness—and they wound up being two of my favorite voices;Read more at location 3981
Having listened to thousands of hours of both these singers, and tens of thousands of playings of their songs, my brain has developed circuitry that can pick out their voices from among thousands of others, even when they sing something I’ve never heard them sing before. My brain has encoded every vocal nuance and every timbral flourish, so that if I hear an alternate version of one of their songs—as we do on the John Lennon Collection of demo versions of his albums—I can immediately recognize the ways in which this performance deviates from the one I have stored in the neural pathways of my long-term memory.Read more at location 3984
As with other sorts of preferences, our musical preferences are also influenced by what we’ve experienced before,Read more at location 3989
If you had a negative experience once with pumpkin—say, for example, it made you sick to your stomach—you are likely to be wary of future excursions into pumpkin gustation. If you’ve had only a few, but largely positive, encounters with broccoli, you might be willing to try a new broccoli recipe,Read more at location 3990
The types of sounds, rhythms, and musical textures we find pleasing are generally extensions of previous positive experiences we’ve had with music in our lives.Read more at location 3993
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We take pleasure in the sensory experience, and find comfort in its familiarityRead more at location 3996
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Safety plays a role for a lot of us in choosing music. To a certain extent, we surrender to music when we listen to it—we allow ourselves to trust the composers and musicians with a part of our hearts and our spirits; we let the music take us somewhere outside of ourselves. Many of us feel that great music connects us to something larger than our own existence, to other people, or to God.Read more at location 3999
Note: DIO Edit
We want to know that our vulnerability is not going to be exploited. This is part of the reason why so many people can’t listen to Wagner. Due to his pernicious anti-Semitism, the sheer vulgarity of his mind (as Oliver Sacks describes it), and his music’s association with the Nazi regime, some people don’t feel safe listening to his music. Wagner has always disturbed me profoundly, and not just his music, but also the idea of listening to it. I feel reluctant to give into the seduction of music created by so disturbed a mind and so dangerous (or impenetrably hard) a heart as his, for fear that I might develop some of the same ugly thoughts. When I listen to the music of a great composer I feel that I am, in some sense, becoming one with him, or letting a part of him inside me.Read more at location 4005
This accounts for the fandom that surrounds popular musicians—the Grateful Dead, the Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, R.E.M., Ani DiFranco. We allow them to control our emotions and even our politics—to lift us up, to bring us down,Read more at location 4012
Note: IDOLO Edit
The power of art is that it can connect us to one another, and to larger truths about what it means to be alive and what it means to be human. When Neil Young sings Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were . . . . Live alone in a paradise that makes me think of two. we feel for the man who wrote the song.Read more at location 4023
We hear vulnerability in unlikely places and it brings us closer to the artist. David Byrne (of the Talking Heads) is generally known for his abstract, arty lyrics, with a touch of the cerebral. In his solo performance of “Lilies of the Valley,” he sings about being alone and scared. Part of our appreciation for this lyric is enhanced by knowing something about the artist, or at least the artist’s persona, as an eccentric intellectual, who rarely revealed something as raw and transparent as being afraid.Read more at location 4032
vulnerabilityRead more at location 4032
who rarely revealed something as raw and transparent as being afraid.Read more at location 4035
Note: BYRNE Edit
Connections to the artist or what the artist stands forRead more at location 4035
Johnny Cash cultivated an outlaw image, and also showed his compassion for prison inmatesRead more at location 4036
“adventuresomenessRead more at location 4042
Some of us are more open to experimentation than others in all aspects of our lives, including music; and at various times in our life we may seek or avoid experimentation.Read more at location 4043
As Internet radio and personal music players are becoming more popular, I think that we will be seeing personalized music stationsRead more at location 4044
I think it will be important that whatever form this technology takes, listeners should have an “adverturesomeness” knob they can turn that will control the mix of old and new, or the mix of how far out the new music is from what they usually listen to.Read more at location 4047
Our music listening creates schemas for musical genres and forms, even when we are only listening passively, and not attempting to analyze the music. By an early age, we know what the legal moves are in the music of our culture. For many, our future likes and dislikes will be a consequence of the types of cognitive schemas we formed for music through childhood listening.Read more at location 4050
our early exposure is often our most profound, and becomes the foundation for further musical understanding.Read more at location 4055
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Musical preferences also have a large social component based on our knowledge of the singer or musician, on our knowledge of what our family and friends like, and knowledge of what the music stands for.Read more at location 4055
knowledge of the singer or musician,Read more at location 4056
and friends like, and knowledge of what the music stands for.Read more at location 4057
This may explain why the most common form of musical expression, from the Psalms of David to Tin Pan Alley to contemporary music, is the love song,Read more at location 4057
Note: LOVE SONG Edit