The Library's Music and the Brain events offer lectures, conversations and symposia about the explosion of new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music. Project chair Kay Redfield Jamison convenes scientists and scholars, composers, performers, theorists, physicians, psychologists, and other experts at the Library for a compelling 2-year series, with generous support from the Dana Foundation.
Steve Mencher from the Library of Congress talks to Dr. Robin Sylvan, Director of the Sacred Center, El Cerrito, California about "Trance Formation: Music, Trance, Religious Experience, and the Brain."
Helfgott and Middleton examine the use of classical music by law enforcement and other cultural institutions as social control, to quell and prevent crime. Their conversation touches on how classical music is viewed in contemporary culture, how it can be a tool for discouraging criminal activity and anti-social behavior, as well as its history as a mind-altering experience.
From Mode to Emotion in Musical Communication: Steven Brown, Director of the NeuroArts Lab at McMaster University, discusses his work looking at the expression of emotion in both Western and non-Western musics. Music employs a number of mechanisms for conveying emotion. Some of them are shared with other modes of expression (speech, gesture) while others are specific to music. The most unique way that music communicates emotion is through the use of contrastive scale types. While Westerners are familiar with the major/minor distinction, the use of contrastive scale types in world musics is universal.
Artistic anathemas, musical mayhem, and cultural conundrums such as "the devil's music"- Middleton and Krash explore the psychological and social issues associated with the human tendency toward censorship of musical expression, as well as what has been described as "suicide-by-music" and crimes that have been connected to musical genres.
In our everyday lives language and instrumental music are obviously different things. Neuroscientist and musician Ani Patel is the author of a recent, elegantly argued offering from Oxford University Press, Music, Language and the Brain. Oliver Sacks calls Patel a "pioneer in the use of new concepts and technology to investige the neural correlates of music." In this podcast he discusses some of the hidden connections between language and instrumental music that are being uncovered by empirical scientific studies.
Daniel Levitin's new book The World in Six Songs has attracted a serious fan following, including Sting, Joni Mitchell and Willie Nelson. Neuroscientist, rock producer, and best selling author (This is Your Brain on Music) Levitin talks about his research for this fascinating book that takes the reader on a journey of the world through 6 types of songs--friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion/ritual, and love.