Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Music Instinct
Husband and I are halfway through a fascinating PBS program called The Music Instinct: Science & Song. It's a fascinating look at how our brains respond to music. What is genetic and what is inherited?

As a world music DJ, I was especially intrigued at the role that culture plays in our musical life. There was a wonderful singer from Pakistan, I believe, and another from Tibet. They discussed how Asian music has a different tonal scale than Western music and, because of this, often sounds "out of tune" to Western ears. I was also fascinated by them playing piano music to villagers in Cameroon who had no previous exposure to European classical music before and how they responded emotionally to the tunes by categorizing each piece as "happy," "sad," or "scary." If you have a chance to check it out, I highly recommend it.

I'm hoping they get to why people respond to different styles of music. Why do I love world music but hate death metal? Why does Husband play jazz and not hip-hop? My siblings and I have very different tastes in music and yet we all grew up with the same records on our parents stereo. So why do I turn to Django Reinhardt and my sister to the Rolling Stones?

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