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{ Category Archives } science

Feeling better about practice: the peak-end rule

Kahneman and Tversky, in their many studies of cognitive biases, discovered the “peak-end rule”: our emotional memories off experiences are disproportionately affected by the end of the experience. For example, they had subjects submerge their hands in painfully cold water for 30 seconds, then another time but with an additional 15 seconds added, but at […]

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pitch == rhythm

Duality is concept that was crucial — and somewhat magical — in my training as an economist.  I first encountered it when I learned linear programming, and then in my microeconomic theory classes, with the duality at the heart of the theory of optimizing behavior by both individuals and firms. So now I’m kicking myself […]

Acquired musical savant syndrome

There’s a story on “Snap Judgment” on NPR about Derek Amato, who on his 40th birthday dove into shallow end of a pool, hit his head, had a concussion. Afterwards, he could suddenly play the piano, at a very high level, after never playing before. Amato was diagnosed with “acquired musical savant syndrome”, and with […]

Deliberate practice according to a professional

Noe Kageyama is a Juilliard-trained violinist who is now a sport and performance psychologist.  He discusses the famous work by Ericsson and subsequent scholars on deliberate practice — there seem to be hundreds of blog and popular press articles that do this — but then goes on to give specific advice with rich, sophisticated examples […]

When is mood music good for you?

Based on a recent scholarly article, “Should People Pursue Feelings That Feel Good or Feelings That Do Good? Emotional Preferences and Well-Being,” an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that discusses whether angry moods are sometimes good for us, and how music that induces different moods might affect our performance (in non-musical activities) in […]

Music as language

Various podcasts (60 mins total) from Radiolab, addressing music as language: “What is music? Why does it move us? How does the brain process sound, and why are some people better at it than others?”

Music and the brain: summary from psychology workshop

“I think there’s enough evidence to say that musical experience, musical exposure, musical training, all of those things change your brain,” says Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University. “It allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also […]

Tears for appogiaturas

An article in the Wall Street Journal discussed research, some old. that suggests why certain musical pieces tend to arouse sentiment.  The author focuses on the use of appogiaturas, octave jumps (generally in songs), and transitions from narrow frequency range, low dynamic passages to passages that swell in dynamic and frequency range (think Celine Dion). […]

Musical expression and the brain

There’s been interesting work for several years on the importance of expectation — and foiling expectation — in musical expression.  This article in the New York Times seems to think the idea is newer than it is, but it does a reasonable job of making the point, including interviews and examples from significant musicians and […]

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