This looks very interesting and coincides nicely with the September weekend.
On a day where news broadcasts debate the disengagement of some young people from science (scroll down to 0720), I was heartened to receive an email alerting me to the publication of an article entitled The Rhythmic Brain by Katie Overy & Robert Turner. Both contributed to a fascinating conference I attended at Edinburgh University in December*. Put simply, the article touches upon connections between music – specifically rhythm – and language, evolution, neuroscience, psychology, learning, memory & genetics.
What disappoints me in some attempts to convince young people of the relevance of science is the all too easy citation of computer games. I tend to agree more with Quentin Cooper who opines that “science is a perspective.” There is a scientific aspect to everything. That’s why I applaud the efforts of organisations like The Wellcome Collection and Edge to heal the rift between sciences and the humanities and pursue The Third Culture. I am strengthened in this belief that some of the best writing on music is the work of scientists – a great many of whom are musicians.
Consider this extract from the aforementioned article:
Rhythm is a basic organising principle of music, providing a strict temporal framework for an infinite variety of playful and expressive musical behaviours, from clapping and dancing in a group to a virtuosic violin solo. This temporal organisation exists on a number of hierarchical levels (the pulse, the bar, the phrase), allowing for the simplest forms of synchronisation and prediction as well as highly complex, large-scale musical structures.
Music is a difficult topic on which to write – precisely because it conveys in seconds what words would take minutes to describe. I would argue that the distillation of content in the short paragraph above is nothing short of poetic.
* My intention had been to write up the conference but, as it was built around a book entitled Communicative Musicality, I think it would be better to write on the book once I’ve read it.
When I began this blog in May 2006, I wasn’t expecting any particular theme to emerge but, when asked recently to describe the content, found myself saying that, while I endeavour to maintain a core content of posts on music and music-education, there are also many on the overlaps between music, language and science and, hopefully, their relevance to learning & teaching. So imagine my excitement upon receiving email notification of an event at the Wellcome Collection entitled Tune-In: Music with the Brain in Mind – exploring improvisation and well-being. This reach across the two cultures (a successor of Head On: Art with the Brain in Mind) was the fruit of a collaboration between artakt, Central St Martins, University of the Arts, and new recording label Plushmusic (connected, I assume to the festival, Music At Plush). The day comprised two seminars (each featuring a panel of scientists and musicians), workshops and late afternoon performances of improvised music in the wonderful acoustic of the one of the Wellcome Collection’s galleries. Neither Napoleon Bonaparte’s toothbrush nor Florence Nightingale’s moccasins ever enjoyed such harmonious surroundings.
Professor Marina Wallace (Director of artakt) introduced the morning session entitled The Science of Improvisation. On the panel were: Continue reading In-Tune: Music with the Brain in Mind – 1
Where it seems relevant, I like to post about anything interesting in the interface between music and science. So you can imagine how pleased I was to receive an email notification of an event entitled Tune-In at the Wellcome Collection* on Saturday 8 Nov. Entry is free and so, if you’re in the neighbourhood, it seems like as fascinating a way to spend a Saturday as I can imagine.
I’ll write more after the event, at which I hope to meet up with my guitar-playing cousin Martin Byatt.
Speaking of science, I heard today on Today that Richard Dawkins has stood down from the Chair For The Public Understanding of Science. The chair is to be filled by Marcus du Sautoy – a frequent guest on In Our Time and presenter of BBC 4’s The Story of Maths.
Do we have a chair for the public understanding of education? Do we need one?
* In association with Artakt, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and University of the Arts London. With thanks to the European Dana Alliance for the Brain.