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Daniel J. Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession Daniel J. Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human.

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Presentation on theme: "Daniel J. Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession Daniel J. Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human."— Presentation transcript:

1 Daniel J. Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession Daniel J. Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession Notes on the chapters: 1 – 9.

2 Chapter 1: What Is Music From Pitch to Timbre: key multiple attributes.  Tone (sometimes thought of as a “note”  Pitch (purely a psychological construct)  Rhythm (repeating patterns,  contrasts of silence and sound. –2’s & 3’s,  Tempo (fast vs slow), speed  Contour (shape of a melody, ups & downs)  Timbre (different instruments)  Loudness  Spatial location: where sound comes from  Reverberation (like an ecco).

3 Chapter 1: What Is Music From Pitch to Timbre: higher-order concepts  Meter  Key  Melody  Harmony

4 Chapter 2: Foot Tapping Discerning Rhythm, Loudness, and Harmony  Rhythm –Tempo –Meter  Loudness (role of silence)  Harmony  Note bottom of p. 73 where Gestalt psychologists Kohler, Koffka are mentioned. These are Lewin’s teachers from Berlin days.  Gestalt Principles of Grouping (bottom p. 74)  Also see D & P on page

5 Music listened to in class on Friday, February 12, 2010: “Round Midnight”: two versions First, by the composer Thelonious Sphere Monk Second, by Miles Davis Quintet Form and Structure were discussed: AABA form/pattern for the “Round Midnight” ballad

6 Chapter 3: Behind the Curtain Music and the Mind Machine  Cognitive Science / Neuroscience  Functionalism: similar minds can arise from quite different brains, brains are just the collection of wires and processing modules that instantiate thought.  Common illusions: pp illusions like those in text and web-links Sherman provided.  Isomorphic structures.

7 Chapter 3: Behind the Curtain Music and the Mind Machine  Note bottom of p. 89: “…emotions (frontal lobes, cerebellum, the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens – part of a network of structures involved in feelings of pleasure and reward, whether it is through eating, having sex, or listening to pleasurable music.  P , Imprinting: “Our brains learn a kind of musical grammar that is specific to the music of our culture, just as we learn to speak the language of our culture.” (Noam Chomsky and psycho-linguistics.

8 Robert Plutchik’s model of how emotions can be combined to yield blends that differ in intensity.

9 Allmusic link as an example of emotion classifications: Pan’s Labyrinth (Movie) by Guillermo Del Toro with musical soundtrack by Javier Navarrete: “Mercedes Lullaby” Herbie Hancock;s River: the joni letters Title tune, “River” Chet Baker singing “My Funny Valentine”, a Rogers & Hart 1937 song

10 Physiological Components of Emotion

11 The Ear and the Brain.

12 Brain: 3 areas, Forebrain, Midbrain and Hindbrain

13 Brain locations

14 Brain Locations

15 Chapter 4: Anticipation What We Expect From Liszt (and Ludacris) The Neural organization of music!  All sound begins at the eardrum where sounds get segregated by “pitch”.  Speech and music diverge into separate processing circuits. –Speech circuits decompose the signals in order to identify individual phonemes. –Music circuits decompose the signals and separately analyze pitch, timbre, contour and rhythm.  The output of the neurons performing these tasks connect to regions in the frontal lobe that put all of it together and try to figure out if there is any structure or order to the “temporal” patterning of it all. frontal lobe frontal lobe  The frontal lobes access our hippocampus and regions in the interior of the temporal lobe and ask if there is anything in our memory banks that can help to understand this signal. hippocampus temporal lobe hippocampus temporal lobe –Have I heard this “pattern” before? –If so when? –Is it part of a larger sequence whose meaning is unfolding right now in front of me?

16 Chapter 5: You Know My Name, Look Up the Number, How we Categorize Music.  The debate about the ‘nature’ and function of memory in humans.  Two theories: the Relational School (also called the Constructivist view) AND the Record-keeping theory.  Constructivist Theory = lacking sensory memory specifics, we construct a memory representation of reality out of the relations (with many details filled in or reconstructed on the spot. –EXAMPLE. Functional invariants (Piaget), p. 134, “…the memory system must be extracting some generalized, invariant information about songs and storing that.  Record Keeping Theory = memory is like a tape recorder or digital video camera, preserving all or most of our experiences accurately, and with near perfect fidelity. –EXAMPLE. The recognition of hundreds, if not thousands, of voices.

17 Chapter 5: You Know My Name, Look Up the Number, How we Categorize Music.  Eleanor Rosch’s conclusions and thoughts on “Category Formation”. (Levitin, 2007, p. 141) –(A) Categories are formed around prototypes. –(B) These prototypes can have a biological or physiological foundation; –(C) Category membership can be thought of as a question of degree, with some tokens being “better” examplars than others; –(D) New items are judged in relation to the prototypes, forming gradients of category membership; –(D) There don’t need to be any attributes which all category members have in common, and boundaries don’t have to be definite.

18 Chapter 5: You Know My Name, Look Up the Number, How we Categorize Music.  Note some connections to our Davis & Palladino (2007) text book and PowerPoint Slides (ppt): –Chapter 9 ppt, slides where the developmental theories of Jean Piaget are discussed.

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20 Chapter 6. After Dessert, Crick Was Still Four Seats Away from Me. Music, Emotion, and the Reptilian Brain.  Orchestration of brain regions  Precision choreography of neuro-chemical release (dopamine)  Uptake between logical prediction systems and emotional rewards  When we ‘love’ a piece of music, it reminds us of other music we have heard and it activates memory traces of emotional times in our lives  The “Groove” is an ‘expectation  This is Piaget’s “assimilation” and “accommodation” process

21 Music listened to in class this week: 3/26/2009  Tirmakan/Eg Vippa Meg, from the CD, “From Senegal to Setesdal by Kirsten Braten Berg. Included the “Griot,” Solo Cissokho singing the Mandeng history of Tirmakan and Kirsten Braten Berg singing a Norwegian Lullaby (Eg Vippa Meg) at the same time.  Soli (lent & rapide). Music that accompanies the rite/initiation of circumcision in the Malinke tradition.

22 Chapter 7. What Makes a Musician: Expertise Dissected.  Many forms of musical expertise  Dexterity at playing an instrument  Emotional communication  Creativity and the role of “naiveté” or lack of formal training (Joni Mitchell).  Special mental structures for remembering music  Expert listening abilities

23 Music listened to on Raga Jait, Performed by Hariprasad Chaurasia on Flute. India “These are a few of my favorite things” Performed by Julie Andrews John Coltrane Several of Sherman’s Flutes.

24 Chapter 8. My Favorite Things, Why do We Like the Music We Like?

25 Chapter 9. The Music Instinct Evolution #1 Hit.  Back to Charles Darwin and the ‘evolution’ of music.  Steven Jay Gould and the “Spandrel”  Steven Pinker, and “Music is Auditory cheesecake.”  Music evolved out of “Language development” which is also auditory.  Multiple reinforcing cues of a good song: rhythm, melody, contour – cause music to stick in our heads. Nostalgia!  Levitin’s last words: “As a tool for arousing feelings and emotions, music is better than language. The combination of the two – as best exemplified in a love song – is the best courtship display of all.”

26 The World in Six Songs: How the musical brain created human nature. Functions of music. Darwinian evolution, natural selection etc.  Friendship (Social Functions)  Joy (Pleasures)  Comfort: before there was Prozac  Knowledge (assists knowing and learning)  Religion (spiritual feelings and emotions)  Love


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