Tag: music helps us think

Is Music A Waste Of Time

Music makes people happy. No one can argue that.

But is everything that makes you happy good for you?

Probably not.

Scott Weiland, the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, was at
my house not too long ago.

He is famous for saying he LOVES heroine.

Scott explained, “(Heroine) took me to where I’d always dreamed of going. I can’t name the place, but I can say that I was undisturbed and unafraid, a free-floating man in a space without demons and doubts.”

The Grand Theory Of Everything says that the ultimate step in your life must
be to achieve happiness.

Heroine Happiness…

But it can’t be any old type of happiness. It can’t be “Heroine Happiness” like Scott Weiland found. That type of happiness is one step forward, 10 steps back.

You want quality happiness.

In the modern world you can’t go far without hearing music.

13 Years Of Music…

One study says that you will listen to about 13 years’ worth of music before you die.

That’s a hell of an investment of time and energy.

Some scientists says music is a complete waste of time.

The Harvard Professor, Steven Pinker says in “The Language Instinct”:

“As far as biological cause and effect are concerned, music is useless. Music appears to be… a cocktail of recreational drugs that we ingest through the ear to stimulate a mass of pleasure circuits at once… Music could vanish from our species and the rest of our lifestyle would be virtually unchanged.”

Strong words.

I know many people who love music and would argue to the death that Pinker is wrong.

For today’s book of the day I read the fascinating “This is Your Brain On Music” by Daniel Levitin.

Levitin says that the scientists like Pinker have it all wrong.

Music does serve powerful purposes.

He lists some:

1. Music helps us think:

For example, little babies don’t think like us adults do. They use “synesthetic thought”, meaning they can’t differentiate the input from their different senses.

So a little 1 year old might be experiencing the taste of cheddar cheese like the sound of a
d-flat musical note!

Hard to fathom but true…

2. Music helps with memory and language

What we know from research is that music is closely tied to both language (or a precursor to language) but even more importantly it’s tied to memory.

We like songs we heard growing up. It makes us nostalgic.

But even deeper we actually like music we heard while we were inside our mom’s belly.

People who grow up around Western music form a ‘mental music map’ that makes them think that music from India sounds weird. And vice versa.

Your brain actually ‘prunes’ the types of music it likes over time. You can literally see the
change under a brain scanner.

3. Music helps us recognize patterns

There is an audio perceptual value to music.

A value that can be manipulated by sound engineers.

Just think of auto-tuned songs by T-Pain, Kanye, or Cher.

They play off of innate patterns we want to hear.

We like music when we can predict what will come next.

But we dont like it too predictable.

4. Music teaches balance

Music also serves as a guage for complexity vs. simplicity.

We like rythms and tempos that surprise us.

They call that “rythmic candence” and “deceptive cadence.” Good music has “groove.” It doesn’t hit on every beat exactly perfectly. The musician plays with the sound a bit, holds it for a split second or draws it out.

The Beatles song “For No One” has deceptive cadence. It ends where we don’t expect it to.

The Beatles song Yesterday violates the classic four or eight measure phrasing structure.

The Rolling Stones surprise us by overlaying violins on top of rock music.

5. Music teaches movement and lets us show off

Music also teaches us how to move. Every gym in America sets their exercise clases to music for a reason.

This is probably why when Hip Hop first came out it was the fastest growing genre in the USA.

Our ancestors used rythm to learn how to move, to throw spears, to dance. The men used dance to show off how fit and coordinated they were to impress single women.

Elvis Presley and Adam Levine getting all the girls isn’t anyting new, it’s been happening for centuries, it’s hardwired deep into women’s brains to be attracted to creativity and musical talent.

music, music makes people happy, music helps us think

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