As a graduate of the then Huddersfield Polytechnic, I was proud to come across this archive-saving piece of news: http://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/finally-a-permanent-home-for-bmics-scores-and-recordings/#comment-47464
Long fascinated by the crossover between music and language, I was delighted to come across a dissertation by Jonathan Pearl entitled Music and Language: The Notebooks of Leoš Janáček. The Czech (or more accurately Moravian) composer was taken by the idea that character was manifest in prosody and strove to come up with melodies for his operatic characters which were true to the music of their speech.
Jonathan Pearl does a much better job of explaining it – either here in the full-length dissertation or here in a shorter version (look for Eavesdropping with a Master: Leos Janácek and the Music of Speech). Very interesting reading!
Illustrating this idea with a single YouTube clip is tricky so instead let me embed a clip of one of Janáček’s most famous non-operatic works – the final movement of his Sinfonietta, conducted here by Pierre Boulez. Listen out for great trumpet section work at 5:00:
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Coping with the abstractions of music, when teaching, often relies on analogy to help pupils grasp otherwise elusive ideas. Consequently, you end up with a bank of ideas of all the things to which music seems comparable. However, this doesn’t often run the other way round – and, in my experience, people using music as an analogy for something else often don’t quite hit the spot.
Listening to Radio 4’s Open Book the other day, I caught an article about a new, unabridged audio book version of George Eliot‘s Middlemarch. At nearly 36 hours on 28 CDs, recording this 800-page novel is a gargantuan task. The reader, Juliet Stevenson, completed it in 12 days – a feat of which many musical recording artists would be extremely proud. She talks here about the many features involved – notably rhythm (of character and also of writer), inhabiting character, and coping with paragraph-long sentences – scroll forward to 19′ 20”
p.s. if this doesn’t seem like a big deal, why not try recording yourself reading a few paragraphs?
- Affiliation – do we feel included in the organisation – that our opinions matter?
- Agency – how do we rate our own success at the skills required in our job?
- Autonomy – what level of choice do we have in what’s to be done and how?
- the difference between a challenge and things which are merely challenging, which can often amount to little more than repeated and pointless annoyance
- autonomy – like any freedom, this comes with responsibility. In my own work, I enjoy a massive amount of autonomy, a good example of which can be seen in the running of four guitar ensembles: choice of repertoire; when it should be begun; how it should be presented; how much time to spend on each item; who should play which part. However, if any performance were to come unstuck, I would be entirely responsible for this.
Catching up with a podcast of Start The Week, I was delighted to be pointed in the direction of The Mysteries of the Brain – a series of programmes on BBC World Service by Professor Barry Smith.* In his discussions with Andrew Marr, he referred to experiments carried out by John-Dylan Haynes, which pointed to the illusory nature of free will. Volunteers were asked, repeatedly, to decided whether to press a button with their left or right hand while in an fMRI scanner. Evidence of brain activity, which enabled those reading output to predict with 100% accuracy which hand would be used, appeared up to 7 seconds before the volunteer was aware of their conscious choice. John-Dylan Haynes describes the situation as follows:
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Many will not find it surprising that the word “music” appears 23 times in this New Scientist article.
I found this paragraph especially interesting:
“Musically trained people perform better on tests of auditory memory – the ability to remember lists of spoken words, for example – and auditory attention. Children with a musical training have larger vocabularies and higher reading ability than those who do not (Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol 11, p 599). There is even some evidence that early musical training increases IQ (Psychological Science, vol 15, p 511).”
… don’t make us smarter: http://www.bbc.co.uk/labuk/results/braintestbritain/1_results_summary.html
Results in more depth: http://www.bbc.co.uk/labuk/results/braintestbritain/_in_depth.html
I’m continually indebted to Edinburgh University’s Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD), and in particular to Dr. Katie Overy, for flagging up many interesting events. In the relatively recent past I have attended a fascinating conference entitled Communicative Musicality and a lecture on Musical Entrainment.
Two more promising events have been brought to my attention in the last couple of days.
The first of these, entitled The Musical Brain, concerns the growing field which links music and neuroscience.*
The second, entitled The Child’s Curriculum: ‘What is the Value of Early Childhood Education and Care?’ concentrates on “ the value of early childhood education and care, with a particular focus on the implications for future practice and policy in Scotland.” This event is, which takes place in Edinburgh’s Royal College of Physicians, is free but registration is required – details here.
Interest in this area has led me to some interesting books which I can recommend:
This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body by Steven Mithen
Communicative Musicality edited by Stephen Malloch and Colwyn Trevarthen
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
Thanks to teaching’s loss and academia’s gain, Adrian Martinez, for pointing me in the direction of this article on visual impairment and musical aptitude.