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The scientists doing research into music seem to be finally getting into the swing of things. Researchers from the University of Kent report that "sad" music can cheer you up. Why? Because it's "beautiful". Well, that's what I've been saying...
The study identified a number of motives for sad people to select a particular piece of music they perceive as 'sad', but found that in some cases their goal in listening is not necessarily to enhance mood. In fact, choosing music identified as ‘beautiful’ was the only strategy that directly predicted mood enhancement, the researchers found.
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Here is an article about teaching composition. It is a rather odd sort of essay and doubt that it captures much about how one learns how to compose:
we must address the master/apprentice mentality. I propose we to do this by continuing to allow more inquisitive learning to take place alongside modeling. Secondly, we desperately need to openly and pragmatically identify the inherent challenges of gender in composition. When you add gender roles into an extraordinarily male dominated system, the challenge becomes further complicated.These seeming "issues" appear to be more the fashion of the day than actually significant. I suspect my belief is that you really can't "teach" composition in the sense of making someone go through a set curriculum. Though some rare individuals can sometimes inspire other rare individuals.
Here is a quote from the first part of the essay. I have to say that I don't have the faintest idea what is being said!
I don't think anyone understands the "creative process".
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Heh, heh, heh! Here is yet another article taking up that perennial philosophical trap for the unwary, "is music a language?"
Well, we don't of course. If I want you to meet me for coffee at 3pm this afternoon at Starbucks, I'm not going to hum you a tune.Listen to a few minutes of John Coltrane and Stan Getz tradingsaxophone licks, and there’s no denying that music is a form of conversation: The two jazz legends riff on each other’s melodies and build to a cat-and-mouse climax that is basically the musical equivalent of Shakespearean repartee.But how the brain processes musical discourse is not well-understood. Is music a language? If not, how can we still use it to communicate?
But this research seems more a propos than most. They pretty much just hooked up some jazz musicians to MRI machines and looked to see what was going on when they were trading licks:
During the improvisations, the syntactic areas of players’ brains—that is, the areas that interpret the structure of sentences—were super active, as if the two players were speaking to each other. Meanwhile, the semantic areas of their brains—the parts that process language’s meaning—totally shut down. The brain regions that respond to musical and spoken conversation overlapped, in other words, but were not entirely the same.Which is what I have claimed many times. Music is an intense form of communication--at least when we are listening closely to it--but it does not communicate any semantic specifics. Moods, not words.
“Meaning in music is fundamentally context-specific and imprecise, thereby differing wholly from meaning in natural language,”Yep. That's right. The "meaning" of a note, chord or phrase in a piece of music depends entirely on the context, that is to say, the structure. And this meaning is not linguistic, but aesthetic. That is to say that it is not telling you something specific, but what it is doing is communicating beauty. So this was actually a pretty good study of music.
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Let's listen to some of this beauty to close. Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major.