Friday, August 17, 2012

"The Scientific Power of Music"

Readers of this blog know that one thing that really gets me going is half-wit 'scientific' explanations of music. The latest is this one: "The Scientific Power of Music". No need to disagree with any of the data, I'm sure that they can measure changes in dopamine levels when listening to music. But the cartoon-level "explanation" they give doesn't do much good for either science or music. The viewer comes away with the numbskull impression that music is pleasurable and addictive in the same way that cocaine is. If you go back and listen carefully to the script, it just gets more annoying! Here are some problems: I find a lot of music unpleasant for lots of reasons. What's the scientific explanation for that? What chemical is released in my brain when I hear annoying music?  What is the scientific difference between music that is cheerful, like the first movement of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik:

and music that is profoundly mournful, like the first movement of Beethoven's String Quartet, op 131:

Between the eerie opening of "A Day in the Life":

and the crudities of Ke$ha:

As soon as they begin to figure this out, I hope they will let us know. In the meantime ... puhlease!

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