This will be mostly a collection of mini-points, with minimal commentary on my part. One of my former students has started her own blog, called "Ugh!!!! Not another Arts Marketing Blog." She only has two posts up, but it should be interesting. And if you know of anyone who needs a kick ass arts administrator, I can put you in touch with her.
On Wednesday my Psych of Music class had an interesting discussion about the scientific investigation of creativity, specifically composition. It started with concerns on many students' parts that it would ruin the magic. This led to speculations on why scientists try to determine how people are creative, with one possible answer being the hope to create a magic creativity pill. Last week all of the students had thought it was fine to take any sort of drugs that might help performances, especially beta blockers or other means of combating stage fright. Yet yesterday those same students felt that a drug that boosted creativity would be wrong. We explored why they made that split, a very animated and far-ranging discussion.
In that same class, several of the students are always concerned that studies we read only involve Western music. A new article in Current Biology addresses that concern with regards to music and emotion. The team of researchers did a cross-cultural study with a native African population and a Western population. Both groups were able to recognize three basic emotions in Western music: happy, sad, and scared/fearful. This suggests that the emotional content in Western music is includes universally-shared signs. The same team also tried manipulating both Western and Mafa (the African culture) music, increasing the amount of sensory dissonance (intervals of pitches that interfere with each other). Both cultural groups preferred the original versions of both the Western and Mafa musics. The second part sounds questionable, but the fact that the Mafa listeners could identify emotional content in a type of music that they had never experienced, that is pretty amazing.
Fritz, T, et al (2009). "Universal recognition of three basic emotions in music." Current Biology 19/7, 573-576.
I was interviewed today for a news piece on the potential embarrassment of revealing music listening habits, and how iTunes may have affected this. It was an interesting discussion, ranging from social signals and the origins of music to the economic features of online music and Brittany Spears. I'll be curious to see how the piece turns out.
Finally, I recently discovered another online comic (I already follow XKCD), which had one punchline that was too perfect.