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Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Makes Music Expressive

I was really interested to see in the NY Times today (online edition) an article by Dan Levitin called "What Makes Music Expressive. Dan is the author of "Your Brain on Music" and runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University. I guess that makes him a neuroscientist. Where in the past I had never really found the types of explanations for the musical "experience" offered by neuroscientists to be very rewarding, Dan's book was different. First of all before becoming a neuroscientist he worked as a session musician, sound engineer, and record producer. According to his bio he's worked with a diverse array of artists including Stevie Wonder and Blue Oyster Cult. (more cowbell anyone?...) Before reading his book I actually didn't know anything about him other than the fact that he works in the same building as me and that he had already a fairly high profile when he joined the faculty at McGill. I did get into most of his book right away and many of his ideas and experiments have really piqued my own interest in the goings-on of the musician's brain. I guess it didn't surprise me when I found out that he had in fact this background as a musician which I think really grounds the research he does. I think the common ground here is that musicians are also intensely interested in the effects of music on the brain but we conduct our research using musical instruments and would prefer not to talk too much on the side. I liked this article because it demonstrates musical perceptions without too much talking. In a sense it lets the effect of music inside our own minds do the talking. Very cool. Enjoy!


Click here for the full article/interview with Dan Levitin

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