Tag Archives: World Science Festival

Notes & Neurons

I mentioned this as an aside yesterday but feel it deserves to be highlighted in its own right. A World Science Festival panel, chaired by John Schaeffer and featuring Jamshed Bharucha,  Daniel Levitin,  Lawrence Parsons and Bobby McFerrin discuss whether music is hard wired or culturally determined. The resulting output is five videos (featuring musical illustration) which can be accessed here.

Daniel Levitin (record producer/engineer turned neuroscientist) is the author of a very readable book entitled This Is Your Brain on Music. Both subjects are so jargon-heavy that the accessible writing is nothing short of miraculous.

Pentatonic Scale

Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the universality of the pentatonic scale and “audience expectations” in this entertaining video from the World Science Festival 2009. This was part of a larger event in the festival entitled Notes & Neurons.

If the notion of the universality of the pentatonic scale interest you, may I recommend the first of Leonard Bernstein‘s Norton Lectures, in which he relates the pentatonic scale (and varieties of it associated with different cultures) to the harmonic series.

Thanks to Pat Kane for flagging this up in Twitter.