Manual Science and Music

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But Scottish archaeologists studying one of the most complete surviving examples — excavated from a bog in — wanted to actually hear it. So they commissioned metalsmith John Creed to craft a replica in bronze and brass. Four hundred hours of meticulous work, using Iron Age techniques, resulted in an instrument that would do a Celt proud. Musician John Kenny now plays the facsimile Deskford carnyx named after the site where it was found. Its ample size and intricate design, including a hinged jaw and a wooden tongue on a spring, afford musical flexibility rivaling any modern instrument: Covering a range of five octaves, the carnyx can overpower a trombone or sing as softly as a flute, and even emit special effects such as voicelike ululations.

Tone A single musical sound of specific pitch , also known as a note. Pitch The musical quality of a tone , sounding higher or lower based on the frequency of its sound waves. Resonance Amplification of a musical tone by interaction of sound vibrations with a surface or enclosed space.

Volume The pressure of sound vibrations, heard in terms of the loudness of music.

Often measured in beats per minute. Rhythm An arrangement of tones of different durations and stresses.

DESY - Humboldt Professur - Science and Music Festival

Melody A succession of individual tones arranged to musical effect, aka a tune. Chord Two or more tones sounded simultaneously. Chords are the ingredients of harmony. Harmony The musical arrangement of chords. Harmony is the organization of tones played simultaneously.

Vibrato A small, rapid modulation in the pitch of a tone.

The technique may express emotion. These 13 headers encompass the gamut of musical styles from to These spindles show the relative popularity of musical categories on an annual basis, represented as width. Changes in shading mark major transitions. The most dramatic transition takes place in , when hip-hop begins to take over America.

These new instruments had such a widespread effect that was the least musically diverse year on record. The branches of this tree show higher-level relationships among the 13 categories. For instance, there are greater parallels between blues rock and electronic music than between either of those genres and hip-hop.

Music and Productivity: The Basics

Q: What is harmonic surprise? Musicians use a large number of chords to compose their melodies. Some chords are used often, and some are used rarely. Harmonic surprise is a mathematical way to measure how often rare chords appear in a song.

CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music - Nigel Stanford

A: We found two types of links between harmonic surprise and song popularity. In the first, songs with many surprising chords tended to reach near the top of the Billboard Hot rankings more often than songs with less harmonic surprise. In the second, what helped the popularity of songs was the change in surprise across sections of the song. The two main sections of a song are verses and choruses. The verses carry the story of the song. The choruses are those parts that have repeated lyrics and that everybody sings together.

Science of Music

We found that in successful songs, the harmonic surprise of the verses tended to be higher than in the choruses. Therefore, in the transitions from verses to choruses, the amount of harmonic surprise tended to drop. The same drop in surprise did not tend to happen with songs that did not reach the top of the Billboard. Q: What pop songs show the ideal combination of surprise and predictability? Then, when the song transitions from the introduction to the chorus, the drop in harmonic surprise is huge. In other cases, there is a large drop in surprise from the bridge to the chorus.

Music Makes Us Human

A bridge is a musical tool that interrupts the repetitive pattern of a song to grab the attention of the listener. On the other hand, there were several songs that were relative flops for otherwise successful artists. Q: Could your formula help artists write catchier songs? A: I often joke that we can become rich advising musicians on how to make their songs popular. However, the path to a hit song involves more than just exploring harmonic surprise. Rhythm, lyrics and other factors play important roles for the success of a song.

We have asked subjects to rank these songs in order of preference. Although these melodies were computer-generated, the preferences that people displayed agreed well with the principles that we had discovered on harmonic surprise.

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Meaning: The sound source is larger. Reason: Larger sound sources have larger resonance chambers.

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Meaning: The sound source is less energetic. Reason: Lower-energy sound sources produce less sound pressure, thus lower volume. One study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral. This means that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them , which explains why some of us find listening to sad music enjoyable, rather than depressing.

But when it comes to creative work, loud music may not be the best option. It turns out that a moderate noise level is the sweet spot for creativity. The way this works is that moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In other words, when we struggle just enough to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches.

This is very similar to how temperature and lighting can affect our productivity , where paradoxically a slightly more crowded place can be beneficial. The study used five personality traits for the test: openness to experience, extraversion , agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability. For instance, openness to experience, extraversion, and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly.


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Here is also a break-down of how the different genres correspond to our personality, according to a study conducted at Heriot-Watt University:. Of course, generalizing based on this study is very hard. However looking at the science of introverts and extroverts , there is some clear overlap. Another study done on teenagers and young adults focused on how their driving is affected by music. Of course, their own music was preferred, but it also proved to be more distracting: drivers made more mistakes and drove more aggressively when listening to their own choice of music.

Even more surprising: music provided by the researchers proved to be more beneficial than no music at all. It seems that unfamiliar, or uninteresting, music is best for safe driving. They also tested better on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills, which involve understanding and analyzing visual information , such as identifying relationships, similarities and differences between shapes and patterns.

Similar research shows this correlation for exercise and motor skills in the same way , which is also fascinating. Stroke patients in one small study showed improved visual attention while listening to classical music. The study also tried white noise and silence to compare the results, and found that, like the driving study mentioned earlier, silence resulted in the worst scores.

Because this study was so small, the conclusions need to be explored further for validation, but I find it really interesting how music and noise can affect our other senses and abilities—in this case, vision.