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Question about understanding music

Question about understanding music
March 07, 2010, 01:43:55 AM
I'm inclined to believe our capacity to appreciate more complex music develops with age as most people who really enjoy music turn to more complex styles, like classical music, later in their lives, but many young talents that study music always appreciated this kind of music, not to mention the composer themselves (but that may be different since they lived in a time with no TV and were trained very hard). But I wanted to know, can a person being to appreciate music like Classical or good metal, if they like more simple music? Can changes occur that make them comprehend more coherent, complex works?

Can a more disciplined life, work and stimulation of the brain like meditation, or mathematics help this?

Re: Question about understanding music
March 07, 2010, 02:57:36 AM
I have been searching for an answer for this for a while and this is the best I could come up with:

"...it was found that infants do show a preference for consonance over dissonance.  Appreciating dissonance comes later in life, and people differ in how much dissonance they can tolerate.  There is probably a neural basis for this.  Consonant intervals and dissonant intervals are processed via separate mechanisms in the auditory cortex.  Recent results from studying the electrophysiological responses of humans and monkeys to sensory dissonance (that is, chords that sound dissonant by virtue of their frequency ratios, not due to any harmonic or musical context) show that neurons in the primary auditory cortex - the first level of cortical processing for sound - synchronize their firing rates during dissonant chords, but not during consonant chords.  Why that would create a preference for consonance is not yet clear."

- This Is Your Brain on Music, Daniel J. Levitin, pages 222-223


Re: Question about understanding music
March 07, 2010, 01:16:13 PM
lolmetal: It seems this was about the sound of the notes, not the music itself.

Yep, found this out at the early part of the week. I was driving her to school and I had "None So Vile" on and I hear this weird sounding growl in the back of the car. I look around and she is bobbing her head making unintelligble growling sounds. I started laughing and asked her if she liked it. She said that she loved it! She's six, so if I can start her off this early, then she's set for life. Here are recent metal digs.

That's great. let's wait and see if she will like some great music, or walk around with her girlfriends listen to justin timberlake, akon, or whatever's popular at the time and when hearing death metal, saying: "eeew!". And then her father comes around and says "What's the matter sweetheart, you used to love this kind of music when you were little!" And her friends would laugh and she will say "daaaaaad!"

Re: Question about understanding music
March 07, 2010, 03:29:43 PM
This is Your Brain on Music is a good book, you should read it. It will provide you with many answers. As for myself, I should say that as a kid I was taught piano for a few years while in actuality I was not very fond of (any) music at all. Now, several years later, I enjoy lots of music (including classical like you mentionned) and I realise I dumb I was not to take the opportunity to learn piano seriously. Yes, we do get more intelligent, but we (or at least I) also get more pretentious and aware of the impression we might leave on others. It's always good to drop a little "Faur" or "Gould" in a discussion - keeps the others in check. You know what I mean? I do feel there is a part of (some) people's general appreciation of music such as jazz and classical that has to do with pretense.

Re: Question about understanding music
March 08, 2010, 11:01:43 AM
I'm inclined to believe our capacity to appreciate more complex music develops with age as most people who really enjoy music turn to more complex styles, like classical music, later in their lives, but many young talents that study music always appreciated this kind of music, not to mention the composer themselves (but that may be different since they lived in a time with no TV and were trained very hard). But I wanted to know, can a person being to appreciate music like Classical or good metal, if they like more simple music? Can changes occur that make them comprehend more coherent, complex works?

Can a more disciplined life, work and stimulation of the brain like meditation, or mathematics help this?
Understanding the bigger picture and how the little details fit together to create it will help this.

http://webecoist.com/2008/09/07/17-amazing-examples-of-fractals-in-nature/

Fast little melodies (a la Yngwie) does not necessarily mean complicated. Some of the best music has some very subdued riffage/motif building blocks that are arranged in a complex manner. A smart person would eschew such noodly nonsense when it's used inappropriately or pretentiously.

I have been searching for an answer for this for a while and this is the best I could come up with:

"...it was found that infants do show a preference for consonance over dissonance.  Appreciating dissonance comes later in life, and people differ in how much dissonance they can tolerate.  There is probably a neural basis for this.  Consonant intervals and dissonant intervals are processed via separate mechanisms in the auditory cortex.  Recent results from studying the electrophysiological responses of humans and monkeys to sensory dissonance (that is, chords that sound dissonant by virtue of their frequency ratios, not due to any harmonic or musical context) show that neurons in the primary auditory cortex - the first level of cortical processing for sound - synchronize their firing rates during dissonant chords, but not during consonant chords.  Why that would create a preference for consonance is not yet clear."

- This Is Your Brain on Music, Daniel J. Levitin, pages 222-223

I thought this was related:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consonance_and_dissonance#The_objective_.28physical.2Fphysiological.29_basis_of_dissonance


Since notes and intervals are just like colored paints, the color alone seldom matter so much as how the colors are arranged together, and potentially, how those groups of arrangements are arranged as macro-motifs.

Armchair biologist two cents: Preferring consonance over dissonance is like preferring subdued colors over stimulating and intense ones, since the latter in nature are often "warning signal" colors. A reason I can give(read: pull out of my ass) as to why we'd prefer consonance over dissonance is that consonance is seldom possible without some kind of built-in pre-arrangement or "algorithm" that would indicate to a hearing or listening creature that a healthy organism produced it - like a bird's singing.

Dissonant or harsh noises come when an animal is distressed, shocked, angered or injured.

Like a cat hissing or dog yelping or person screaming in rage. There's less likely to be a sequence of consonant sounds when any of the above is occurring.


(Click to biggify)


Notice in the image above that the consonant intervals have less of that moire patterning, while the 'dissonant' ones have finer and more spiderwebby criss-crossing. It's also really fractally.

The rhythms and textures created by dissonant intervals in a chord, as visualized above, become apparent on an electric guitar.

Re: Question about understanding music
March 08, 2010, 11:11:20 AM
As long as there is a will to appreciate, the brain shall find a way to appreciate.

That's just simple causality. In many cases people just like what the other likes, because they like the idea of being just like the other.

But how can a person discover his/her will? That's the ultimate question as far as I'm concerned.

Re: Question about understanding music
March 09, 2010, 05:00:48 PM
But I wanted to know, can a person being to appreciate music like Classical or good metal, if they like more simple music?

Can a more disciplined life, work and stimulation of the brain like meditation, or mathematics help this?

Undoubtedly. Or just: listen to the music.

Not everyone can appreciate it "in depth," but it's meant for people starting around IQ 100 to think it's pretty cool. There's something for everyone. I am sure you will do fine.

Start with shorter pieces, however, and train your brain on the way up.

Disc #8 here is a really good starting point.

Re: Question about understanding music
March 13, 2010, 01:53:14 AM
For what i've heard, there are 2 ways to enjoy the music. The first, simply enjoy the flow as just a receiver - which is not bad or anything, i don't think that in music such categories can ever be even proposed to exist (or that something in music exists..heh) or, as a second level, the listener is also a creator, improvisational player whose unconscious goal is to exert those pesky neurons of himself in ways of academically enjoying the music (either in self-confirmartory way or re-creationary one - which doesn't really have to be so academic, one can say just sensitive - but those terms are so judging, i don't like this). I also propose  that not one of those two ways is superior to the other, for to enjoy the music as it is, one has to experience every possible experience that ought to emerge from that certain piece of paper....i wonder, maybe i don't fit in the "anus crew"? Or do i?

Re: Question about understanding music
March 16, 2010, 01:52:11 PM
Armchair biologist two cents: Preferring consonance over dissonance is like preferring subdued colors over stimulating and intense ones, since the latter in nature are often "warning signal" colors. A reason I can give(read: pull out of my ass) as to why we'd prefer consonance over dissonance is that consonance is seldom possible without some kind of built-in pre-arrangement or "algorithm" that would indicate to a hearing or listening creature that a healthy organism produced it - like a bird's singing.

It seems to me that what drives complex music is contrast. Any kind of change, dynamic or otherwise, is a tool in the palette (how's that for a mixed metaphor?). So dissonance in melodies and chords can be used selectively to make consonance sharper in contrast.

Re: Question about understanding music
April 22, 2010, 10:50:28 PM
You'll have to take into account said person's upbringing as well. For example I was raised with Jazz and Classical music until I was old enough to buy my own music. My sister is a professional opera singer as well, so at a young age I had the propensity to listen to, enjoy, and understand more "complex" forms of music. Don't get me wrong, I still love some bonehead thrash, or some minimalist synth-wave, but I'm still young and witnessing the people around me who were raised on AC/DC and Aerosmith, I've found they don't carry the same drive to explore and enjoy these genres. These said genres that are incorrectly assumed to be reserved for "more mature" or older people.

Re: Question about understanding music
April 23, 2010, 01:47:24 AM
Baron Von Brauer: I was raised on children's pop and pop in general among other popular music, but my father played classical a lot too. But that was when I was a baby. Then, it was pop. Then I discovered rock and loved it. Bands that you might now I began to like: Linkin Park, Gorillaz. Then I discovered System Of A Down and loved it. Of course there were a lot of other bands but brazilian ones that you don't know. Then I began to discover melodic metal like Angra. I also liked some cheesy stuff like rhapsody. At that time my musical taste was a total teenage mess. I listened to everything, mariyn manson, linkin park, soad, cradle of filth, but also burzum, mayhem and other stuff. I believe I did not quite appreciate the works of the good metal bands (burzum, and others) so much, but I also believe I found something special on them, because even listening to marilyn manson, linkin park, I always tought burzum was one of the most special bands.

Now, while having no prejudice (I can still listen to bob marley, or anything, I believe the differential is on recognizing what is actually "good"), I am beggining to mature a little.

Conservationist's advice was a good one and I remembered it while listening to some music: Just listen to the music. ANUS describes the music with so detail (I don't get any of the reviews. But I read some) that I tought I should look for some hidden meaning on the soudns or something. Then I discovered: I just have to listen to it by parts. I listen to a part, then it leads to the next part, etc.

Re: Question about understanding music
April 24, 2010, 09:27:14 PM
For what i've heard, there are 2 ways to enjoy the music. The first, simply enjoy the flow as just a receiver - which is not bad or anything, i don't think that in music such categories can ever be even proposed to exist (or that something in music exists..heh) or, as a second level, the listener is also a creator, improvisational player whose unconscious goal is to exert those pesky neurons of himself in ways of academically enjoying the music (either in self-confirmartory way or re-creationary one - which doesn't really have to be so academic, one can say just sensitive - but those terms are so judging, i don't like this). I also propose  that not one of those two ways is superior to the other, for to enjoy the music as it is, one has to experience every possible experience that ought to emerge from that certain piece of paper....i wonder, maybe i don't fit in the "anus crew"? Or do i?
I know as a musician that one cannot exist without the other. Taking music in at the subconscious level is absolutely necessary in being able to learn something about it. Often times, when I am having difficulties in analyzing a piece of music (both classical and(unfortunately) jazz are taught at my college), throwing it on the stereo and not thinking about it(passive listening) really helps it become imprinted in my brain.