Music has always been a part of my life as I'm sure it has been for many people. I remember that one of the most shocking moments of my life was when a friend of mine told me that he didn't like music -not any music. I couldn't believe that was possible and secretly felt that if I tried hard enough, I could get him to feel as deeply about Rachmaninoff as I did. But in reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks, which talks about the brain's response to music and how it varies in different people, I've begun to feel differently.

I still believe that music is a fundamental part of most of our lives. Babies show responses to rhythm and melody that are amazing. Even tiny babies exhibit an emotional response.
The human brain responds to music instinctively, but this book talks about ways in which the brain fails to process music or to perceive it as a beautiful whole. Like color blindness, there are people who are blind to tone as well. They are literally unable to hear music as most people do; to them it just sounds like a whole lot of noise. It took me a bit to wrap my brain around that concept. This condition, however, is relatively rare which leads me to come back to something I've always believed is true (now just with an escape clause) that if you want to be able to sing and match pitch, you can.

I haven't really been talking about the book much, but it is truly fascinating. If you are interested in how music effects the brain, and what misfirings might make a brain respond to music in rather strange ways, you should check it out. I wonder what Dr. Sacks would say to someone who associated different tastes with different pieces of music (Bach inventions taste like salad, Rachmaninoff's Etude 33 No. 3 Tastes like pure dark chocolate). I guess I'll have to finish the book.

- Amy


KT said…
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KT said…
I second that, Amy. Sadie gets super emotional when we sing Isty-Bisty Spider.

About anyone being about to you really believe that? Because I sort-of suck at singing, but I'd LOVE to be able to sing. I kind-of have this fantasy of me sitting outside with my guitar, hippie long hair, with barefeet singing for spare change. Oh, to dream.
The Kyles said…
Who doesn't get emotional at a rendition of itsy bitsy spider? that song gets me every time...
I do believe anyone can sing, baring any imbalances or deficiencies in the brain. That means everyone can learn to match pitches and make a relatively pleasing sound if they work hard enough. Don't give up those Joan Baez dreams just yet.

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