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Music and the Brain

Music—an art form whose medium is a combination of sound and silence, melody and harmony, temp and meter, timbre and texture. For many people in many cultures the world over, and perhaps since the advent of human congress, music is an important part of life. Although music has been referred to as a universal language, there is still no single, intercultural, universal concept that defines what music might be. Perhaps some of its beauty lies in its personalization in the individual human brain.

dancing dogsMusic can be used to enhance brain development, communication, care, function, learning, memory, relationships, and so on. It can also cause problems for some brains depending on the type of music, its content, volume, and pitch.

I have loved music for as far back as I have conscious memory. My aunt said that when my mother learned she was going to have a child, she chose several specific activities that she conscientiously performed for the remainder of her pregnancy. These daily activities included thirty minutes of playing the piano and singing to her developing fetus. Perhaps my gestational exposure to music shaped my enjoyment of this medium.

Early in childhood I begged to learn to play the piano and finally began taking lessons when I turned four, which undoubtedly represented a sacrifice for my less-than-flush parents because they also purchased a spinet on which I could practice. Certainly, my life has been dramatically different from what it might have been had my parents not believed in the advantages of the study of music for their children. It turns out they were right and I remain indebted to both of them!

Use these Brain References to stimulate and validate your interest in the brain and music.

Study of college students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart’s piano sonatas just prior to taking spatial reasoning tests: they scored higher than students who listened to relaxation tapes or other types of music. The effect lasted for 15 minutes. (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 37. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

The Mozart effect (listening to music composed by Mozart) has been found to positively impact musical training and spatial ability. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 179-185. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Listening to Mozart has been found to strengthen thinking and reasoning abilities. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 182-183. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Study: individuals can sometimes make voluntary movements to the sound of music that cannot be accomplished without it. Music can promote order within the mind and bring order to muscular movement. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 33-35, 106-107. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Human beings distinguish sounds that are essential to communication by listening to the music of speech (e.g., pitch, inflection, cadence of words). Females have a biological edge in this area. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex. p 60. NY: Random House, 1999.)

Summarizes the musical domain as identified by Howard Gardner (e.g., right hemisphere areas perform primary operations of rhythm, pitch, volume, and timbre). (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. 455-457. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Studies: Musical experiences help to build the brain. Musicians have a larger area in the left hemisphere associated with processing sounds. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 248. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

The listener’s approach to the music (rather than the music itself) may help to determine brain location for processing. Unsophisticated listeners show a left-ear (right hemisphere) advantage; more sophisticated listeners tend to show a right-ear (left hemisphere) advantage. (Williams, Linda. Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind. p 26-27. CA: Touchstone Books: 1986.)

Cerebral hemisphere preference for music changes during the course of a musician’s training, from right more to left. Musicians appear to listen to music in a more analytic manner as compared to the general population. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power, Working out the Human Mind. p 52. Great Britain: Element books Limited, 1999.)

Nonmusicians process musicians more in the right hemisphere, musician to a greater degree in the left hemisphere. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). p 20. CA: The Brain Store, 2005.)

A person’s native tongue influences the way in which he or she perceives music. The same succession of notes may sound very different depending on the language the listener learned growing up. (Robinson, Ken, Sir, PhD. Out of Our Minds. p 130-131. NY: Capstone Publishing Ltd, 2001, 2011)

Genetic inheritance requires an environment that is conducive to the development of a specific talent in order for that talent to be expressed. A musical talent may be honed in an environment that appreciates and encourages music, or can be withered in a different environment. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 26-29. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Music directly impacts the nervous system. It can arouse sensations and feelings through the thalamus (relay station of all emotion), and move to centers of reason in the brain from there. (Torres, Carol A., and Louis R. Torres. Notes on Music. p 18. OR: TorresLC Ministries, 2004.)

The lack of specific rhythm (as with more traditional music), allows the body to choose its own internal rhythm. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. p 429-430. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.)

By means of neurotransmitters, the emotional centers of the brain tag memories of music the person finds to be emotionally charged. This may be one reason each generation becomes rather nostalgic about its music. (Lynch, Zack, PhD with Byron Laursen. The Neuro Revolution. How Brain Science is Changing Our World, p. 124-125. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2009.)

Music is an art that can reconcile one to life and enhance it; music is rooted in the body, physically and emotionally based; music links extraversion and introversion. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 160-167. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

In Western music, the names of the notes go from A through G and then repeat. Notes with the same name are double or half the frequency of one another (e.g., this relationship is known as an octave). (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 5-7. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

In Western music, the octave is subdivided into twelve, equally-spaced tones. The intervals form the basis of melody, and are more important to the melody than actual pitch. The brain processes melody relationally (e.g., a melody is defined by the interval between notes rather than the actual notes themselves). (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 5-7. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

When a sound is produced on an instrument, many types of vibration occur simultaneously so you are actually hearing many pitches at once. The pitch with the slowest rate of vib ration is known as the fundamental frequency, and the others are known as overtones. The overtones are mathematically related to one another as integer multiples. When an instrument creates energy at frequencies that are integer multiples, the sound is described as harmonic. . (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 6-7. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Music may release endorphins, the brain’s natural opiates, which help to reduce the perception of pain. Some types of rock music and some types of classical music can trigger pain (e.g., neck, shoulder, chest area) in some individuals. (Bricklin, Mark, and Mark Golin, et al. Positive Living and Health. p 284-289. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.

The link between music and athletic performance is just one example of the amazing power that music has over mind and body. Music can reduce pain and stress, strengthen the brain, and alter how one experiences life. Generally speaking, loud upbeat music has a stimulating effect and slow music reduces arousal. (Lloyd, Robert. Understanding the Power of Music. Science shows that music really does kill pain and reduce stress.)

Speakers of tonal languages, including Mandarin, are more likely than Westerners to have perfect pitch. In one study, 92% of Mandarin speakers who began music lessons at or before the age of five had perfect pitch, while only 8% of English speakers with comparable music training had perfect pitch.  (Robinson, Ken, Sir, PhD. Out of Our Minds. p 130-131. NY: Capstone Publishing Ltd, 2001, 2011)

Perfect pitch tends to be seen in musicians who were exposed to music prior to age of 7. There is a reduced likelihood of acquiring it after age 10. The planum temporale in the left hemisphere appears to be involved with perfect pitch (e.g., it is 40% larger in the brains of musicians with perfect pitch). (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 178-179. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Perfect pitch, an ability to name individual tones accurately, is not inherited only and reflects the plasticity of the brain. It can be acquired by average children ages 3-5 if given appropriate training. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 24-26. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Perfect pitch is a rare gift, found in perhaps 1/10,000 individuals in Western cultures, that is more common among musicians. A more common form is found in people who speak tonal languages (e.g., Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese). (Shreeve, James. Beyond the Brain. p 22-23. National Geographic, Vol. 207, No. 3, March, 2005.

Superior performance requires developing the ability to break the experience into multiple components and work on each separately, achieving high levels of control over every aspect. It takes time (e.g., superior music students most likely to become concert performers averaged 24 hours of practice per week, good students who would end up as teachers averaged 9 hours per week). By age 20 that’s 10,000 versus 4,000 hours. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 16-18. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Music can create a sense of unity and draw groups together because it can create similar physical responses in different people at the same time. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 24-26. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Pitch relates to where a specific tone falls on the musical scale and its frequency. Pitch can be named (e.g., middle C, B-flat). Pitch is critical for determining a melody or song, and it is one of the most important determinants for conveying mood, musical emotion (e.g., love, danger, peace). Keys on the left side of a piano keyboard are attached to relatively longer and thicker strings (than the keys on the right side of the keyboard), which vibrate at a relatively slow rate and “sound lower.” When a hammer strikes a string, it causes the string to vibrate, which displaces air molecules and causes them to vibrate. These vibrating air molecules reach the eardrum and cause it to vibrate at the same frequency. Pitch is a phenomenon of the mind. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 1-4. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Pitch is so fundamental that it is represented directly on the auditory cortex, which contains a “map” with low to high tones arrayed across the surface. Electrodes placed on the brain would permit researchers to determine what pitches a person was listening to, just be looking at the brain activity. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 5-6. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Just as playing the piano can become automatic, so can habitual ways of processing information about the physical and social world. (Wilson, Timothy D. Strangers to Ourselves. p 52-53. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.)

Music must have some element of the unexpected in order for people to receive pleasure from it. The brain develops an appreciation for specific types of music because it learned the music’s underlying structure, and makes predictions about what is likely to come next. Composers, aware of this, carefully manipulate when expectations will be met and when they will not. This can trigger humans to feel titillated, excited, and moved to tears. These manipulations are at the core of music and are accomplished in an endless number of different ways. Music that you enjoy hearing repeatedly plays with your expectations in such a way that it is always a little bit surprising. Thus you never tire of hearing certain pieces of music. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 14-16. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Studies: Superior music students judged most likely to become concert performers averaged 24 hours of practice per week, good students who would end up as teachers (rather than performers) averaged 9 hours of practice per week. By age 20 that translates into 10,000 hours versus 4,000 hours. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 16-18. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Studies have shown that when soft background music is played in intensive care units for premature babies, (as well as a nurses’s or mother’s humming), the babies gained weight faster and left the unit earlier than premature babies who did not hear these sounds. (Harris, Maureen. Music and the Young Mind. p 11. NY: MENC with Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2009.)

Studies: Babies who were exposed to prenatal music stimulation started talking 3-6 months earlier (than those who were not). Once in school, they were ahead in cognitive development, and also could memorize musical material quickly and almost effortlessly. (Diamond, Marian, PhD, and Janet Hopson. Magic Trees of the Mind. p 98-99. NY: A Dutton Book, 1998.)

Processing begins when sound waves hit the eardrum and immediately are separated according to pitch. The neural circuits begin to take apart the signal. They separately analyze pitch, timbre, contour, and rhythm, etc. The results converge in areas of the frontal lobes that attempt to discern the structure of the temporal patterning. The frontal lobes recruit the hippocampus and areas of the interior of the temporal lobe to determine if anything in meory pertains to what is being processed. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 17-18. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Psychophysics, the study of the interaction between the brain and the physical world, has shown that the eight components or building blocks of music can be teased apart from one another. Each can be changed while living the others intact (e.g., alter pitch while leaving rhythm constant). The eight building blocks or components of music are:

  • Loudness
  • Pitch
  • Contour
  • Duration (rhythm)
  • Tempo
  • Spatial location
  • Reverberation
  • Timbre

(Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 2-5. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Study of 7,500 University students: Music majors had the highest reading scores of any students on campus. Learning a musical instrument at any age can be helpful in the development and activation of temporal lobe neurons. (Amen, Daniel G., MD. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. p 206-208. NY: Times Books, 1998.)

An integration of visual, auditory, and motor patterns is required for a person to read music. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Your Child’s Growing Mind. p 332-334. NY: Doubleday, 1987, 1989.)

Processing begins when sound waves hit the eardrum and immediately are separated according to pitch. The neural circuits begin to take apart the signal. They separately analyze pitch, timbre, contour, and rhythm, etc. The results converge in areas of the frontal lobes that attempt to discern the structure of the temporal patterning. The frontal lobes recruit the hippocampus and areas of the interior of the temporal lobe to determine if anything in memory pertains to what is being processed. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 17-18. CA:Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Specific songs or passages of music can be used to trigger the Relaxation Response. (Benson, Herbert, MD., with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing. p 139. NY: Scribner, 1996.)

Almost any type of music can be made memorable through repetition. (Storr, Anthony.Music and the Mind. p 21-23. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Reverberation has to do with the location of music and the size of the room in which it is being played. It helps people determine how far away the musical source is and is often referred to a “echo.” Musicians concern themselves with reverberation in concert calls. Different halls may be described as having great or terrible acoustics, of which reverberation is a large part. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 1-3. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Rhythm has to do with the duration of a series of notes and the units into which the notes are grouped together. It can be referred to as the “beat,” or the “duration” of a series of notes and the way in which they are grouped together. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 1-3. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Listening to rhythmical music can increase blood flow to both hemispheres of the brain. This can aid in concentration, memory, and other mental tasks. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 248. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Music with a definite external beat sets up a sympathetic phenomenon in the body that can force unnatural rhythms on it (e.g., alter heart rate). (Bricklin, Mark, et al.Positive Living and Health. p 429-430. PA: Rodale Press, 1990.)

Rhythm denotes the length of notes that are played and the tempo or pace of the piece of music. It involves the beat, the length of a series of notes and their grouping. It is a function of the duration of a series of notes and the units into which the notes are grouped together. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 1-3, 9. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

The right frontal lobe of the human brain is focally responsible for music and if it is damaged, musical abilities are impaired. (Robinson, Ken, Sir, PhD. Out of Our Minds. p 14. NY: Capstone Publishing Ltd, 2001, 2011)

Patriotic and religious rituals have great power. So do songs, in terms of remembered wellness (e.g., reinforcement of neural pathways that were laid down in childhood or youth). (Benson, Herbert, MD., with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief. p 177-180. NY: Scribner, 1996.)

Popular records that sell are not necessarily written or sung by the world’s best musicians but are produced by individuals who figured out what the customer wanted, wrote lyrics/music to a proven formula, and then found a way to sell them. (Pease, Barbara and Allan. Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes. p 220. NY: Broadway Books, 2004.)

Most people are born with an average capacity to develop musical skills. There are always a smaller percentage of individuals who fall into the extremes of the typical Bell Curve of Distribution. At one end a minority are musically gifted—and some are extremely gifted (e.g., savants such as Mozart). At the opposite end are an equally small percentage who were born musically deficient (e.g., don’t have the capacity to learn musical skills, tone deaf). (Alper, Matthew. The God Part of the Brain, p. 180. IL: Sourcebooks, Inc, 2008.)

A scale can be defined as a subset of the infinite number of pitches. Each culture has its own scales that are use in its traditional music and that become part of the musical language of that culture. Notes on the scale correspond to the letters that are use in musical notation (e.g., A, B, C, D . . .). (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 5-6. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

The Western musical scale, the chromatic scale, is composed of twelve notes. The most common subset, however, is seven notes known as the major scale. Major scales are associated with happy emotions; minor scales are associated with sad emotions. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 6-7. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Study: Music as a physical stimulus acting directly on the brain has sometimes triggered seizures. Usually orchestral music. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 34-36. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Musical semantics, the pairing of a tonal sequence with meaning, appears to occur in the reatr portion of the temporal lobe in both hemispheres (near Wernicke’s area). (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 16-17. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Six times as many girls can sing in tune as boys. (30, Gurian, Michael, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Appear to be processed in the right hemisphere as a unit (e.g., word order in a song is fixed so left-hemisphere verbal skills are not required). (36-38, Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Music results from the brain’s neural interpretation of sound. (Newberg, Andrew, MD., and Mark Robert Waldman. Why We Believe What We Believe. p 56. NY: Free Press, 2006.)

Study: Skilled musicians have a larger brain area devoted to processing piano sounds (as compared to people who had never played an instrument). The earlier that musicians started learning their instruments, the greater their response to piano sounds. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 40-41. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Every cell in the body registers and is influenced by the energy reflected in sound waves. Since sound is energy and energy contains information, the natural acoustical ability of cells allows them to remember the tones of your life. (Pearsall, Paul, PhD. The Heart’s Code. p 110. NY: Broadway Books, 1998.)

Differing cultures produce different musical systems, which are a way of ordering sounds. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 34-36. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Sound has two basic characteristics: loudness and pitch. Most acoustic information (e.g., speech or music) is carried by changes in the amplitude (loudness) and frequency (pitch) of sound waves. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power, Working out the Human Mind. p 60. Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

Emotional states or moods are produced by the various neuropeptide ligands. A specific neuronal circuit is activated simultaneously throughout the brain and body, which generates a behavior with all the physiological changes that behavior would require. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. p 144-146. NY: Scribner: 1997.)

Studies: Children who listen to and play music at ages younger than age 8 tend to do better on spatial reasoning tests. Scores of 3-year-olds on puzzle tests of spatial reasoning and drawing of geometric figures were up to 80% higher than classmates who did not attend music lessons. (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 37. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

Studies: There was a 35% improvement in spatial-reasoning among 3-year olds who studied music for 8 months (e.g., keyboard lessons). (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 178-179. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

You can tell where an object is in the world based on a few milliseconds difference between te time a sound waves arrives in one ear versus the other. You can also tell when you hear vocal recordings the size of the room in which the singer was singing. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 13. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

If children are born into multilingual households, they learn all the languages they are regularly exposed to. Infants can learn three or four languages or more. In the process of learning to speak, there are strong relationships between speech, song and music. Areas of the brain that are primarily concerned with music and language overlap considerably. (Robinson, Ken, Sir, PhD. Out of Our Minds. p 130-131. NY: Capstone Publishing Ltd, 2001, 2011)

Studies: structural processing, sequences that resolved in a predicted way or in a surprising manner: musical syntax, appears to be localized to the frontal lobes of both hemispheres in areas that overlap those that process speech syntax (e.g., Broca’s area). This appears to be true regardless of whether the individual has been musically trained or not. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 16-17. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Plato thought children should study music to foster order and harmony in the mind. (Brynie, Faith Hickman. 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked About Itself But Couldn’t Answer, Until Now. p 119-120. CT: Millbrook Press, 1998.)

Study: New York children aged 2-6 who played in Alexander Blackman’s Orchestra were well ahead of classmates on entering school. Every child should be exposed to all types of music early in life. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 122-124. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Tempo refers to the speed or pace of music. For example, it determines how slowly or how quickly you would tap your finger or foot to a specific piece of music, or how fast or slow you would dance. Music played at a fast tempo tends to sound happy; music played at a slower tempo may sound sad. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain.p 1-3, 9. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Study by Levitin and Cook: non-musicians were asked to sing their favorite rock and popular songs from memory in order to determine how close they came to the actual tempor of the recorded song. The majority were able to reproduce the song’s tempo with 4% of its recorded version. The cerebellum may be the region of the brain that makes this possible (e.g., capable of remembering the “settings” used for coordinating with music being listened to) as the brain later recalls those settings and synchronizes one’s signing with the last time the person heard the song being played. (Levitin, Daniel J., and p. R. Cook. Memory for Musical Tempo: Additional Evidence that Auditory Memory is Absolute. Percept Psychophys 1996;58:927-935.)

Bass singers tend to have less estradiol and more testosterone than tenors. (Durden-Smith, Jo, and Diane deSimone. Sex and the Brain. p 80-90. NY: Arbor House Publishing, 1983.)

Musical ability (and spatial ability) is higher when testosterone levels are lower. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). p 50. CA: The Brain Store, 2005.)

Studies have shown that music causes a biochemical expression (e.g., lowered testosterone levels) while listening to favorite music (e.g., diminishing the heightened testosterone levels necessary for fighting). It seems that music has the ability to either arouse (e.g., following the rhythmic beat of a call to fight) or to soothe and relax the mind and body. (Harris, Maureen. Music and the Young Mind. p 11. NY: MENC with Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2009.)

Rock music has moved out of music festivals and into religious services. The resulted was the creation of a contemporary Christian-music industry that purported to help churches go from one cultural style to the next. Youth ministries in large church often use theotainment to attract youth and encourage them to attend services. Many youth simply attend the church that has the greatest concentration of entertaining events. (Mattingly, Terry. Religion: That’s ‘theotainment’ (www.tmatt.net) Scripps News, 2009.)

Timbre refers to a musical quality that allows the brain to distinguish one instrument from another (e.g., a violin from an oboe or flute), even when the same note is being played on both instruments. It is a unique identifier like a fingerprint (e.g., unique qualities that distinguish the source of the sound from all others). Timbre is extremely acute in the human brain (e.g., able to recognize hundreds of different voices, able to distinguish different emotions in voice sounds). It is determined in part by the vibrations from the instrument itself and can be considered the note’s color. The different tones produced vibrate at diverse intensities, creating differing patterns of overtones. The particular pattern of loudness of the overtones gives each instrument its unique sound and is consciously used by composers to create different moods. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 1-3, 7-8. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

The tonic can be described as the base or key note of a piece of music. Even the least musically trained of individuals can usually tell what note the composer meant to be the tonic and when the composer brings the music back to this base. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 67. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Many patients who have received a transplanted heart report alterations in their musical taste / preferences (as well as changes in tastes for food). (Pearsall, Paul, PhD. The Heart’s Code. p 222-223. NY: Random House, Inc., 1998.)

A tune is a succession of separate tones, a relation between tones, a series of closely related tones that make sense to the listener. However, it is an illusion that melody is something continuous. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 168-175. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Tuning refers to the specific relationship between the frequency of a given note being placed and a particular standard, or between two ore more notes played together. When the instruments in an orchestra are tuned up prior to a concert, the musicians are really synchronizing their instruments to a standard frequency. A frequency from a string on the first violin is often used. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 5-6. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Like language, music is universal and occurs in every human culture that is known. All cultures have always used music for celebrations and traditions. (Harris, Maureen. Music and the Young Mind. p 3-4. NY: MENC with Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2009.)

Music is universal. All human cultures have music. All people make music in some form or another. In fact, there is no human culture without music. Language cannot exist without a form of music (e.g., melodic speech sounds). Music is a universal language.(Koelsch, Stefan, Dr. Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig.) (Source)

Music has been part of society for as long as humans have inhabited the earth. (Sternberg, Barbara, PhD. Music & the Brain. p 2. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Home-Study #2320, 2009).

Studies: of music and vibroacoustic therapy. These modalities can be helpful in differing ways (e.g., can calm depressed and schizophrenic individuals, help with disabled or disturbed children, promote positive mood in the elderly, relax athletes post event, and moderate pain). (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 188-189. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

MRI studies: the brains of violin players devote much more area to pathways representing the thumb and fifth fingers of the left hand that are used extensively during training. The younger a child begins practicing, the more cortical area is allotted to these fingers. (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 35-36. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

An expert remains task-focused even under pressure of competition. An amateur becomes self-focused rather than task focused, which disrupts performance. Self-evaluation and self-consciousness interfere and result in choking under pressure. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 20-22. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Visualizing (internal mental picturing) can help improve performance among musicians and athletes. PET scans show that brain areas involved in motor imagining (e.g., complex or skilled movement) surround the areas that are activated when the movement is actually made. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 179. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

EEG studies: it was virtually impossible to tell by looking at EEG output whether individuals were listening to or just imagining music. The brain wave activity was virtually identical. At least for music, it appears that the same brain areas may be involved and utilized for recalling as for perceiving. (Janata, P. Electrophysiological studies of auditory contexts. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences of Engineering. University of Oregon, 1997.)

Refer to Visualizing and the Brain for additional information.

Studies of associations between personality and a singer’s voice: a higher-pitched voice correlates with greater emotionality, more stage fright, and performance variability. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 186-189. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Music has been used in warfare (e.g., blowing of horns and trumpets) to help arouse aggressiveness in the attackers. (Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. p 8-10. NY: Ballantine Books, 1992.)

Playing a musical instrument gives the brain a good workout. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 247. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

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