Also known as perfect pitch, absolute pitch decribes the ability of a person to recognise and distinguish between specific tones without needing an external reference. Because there is increasing evidence that this capacity may be innate, it has become a key element in the exploration of cognition. See C. Aruffo's site on Music Cognition & Absolute Pitch for a useful rundown of writings on the topic.
Researchers include: Bergeson, Brown, Costa-Giomi, Cuddy, Deutsch, Levitin, Peretz, Pfordresher, Saffran, Sloboda, Trainor, Trehub, Zatorre.
The science of sound. In particular, the study of the physical properties and behaviour of sound waves. How these waves impact on our minds is refered to as psychoacoustics.
An adaptation is an innate (biologically determined) characteristic of an organism that gives it a direct survival advantage. The offsping of organisms with this advantage will naturally come to dominate the species (this is the evolutionary process at work - natural selection).
There are other innate qualities that evolutionists call exaptations or 'spandrels' (concepts coined by Stephen Jay Gould) - these are qualities that are accidental byproducts of adaptative characteristics offering no particular advantages.
There is constant debate about which capacities are adaptative and which are exaptative. Why? Apart from simply truth-seeking and advancing our understanding of ourselves, the answer, as regards music, is likely to have far-reaching repercussions for the development of public policy (in particular: education, health promotion and community development).
Steven Pinker's dismissal of music as 'auditory cheesecake' (a 'useless' byproduct of language) doesn't further the struggle for the recognition of the power, value (or necessity) of music in human development. Adaptation is a key issue in the field of evolutionary musicology. This entry includes a list of researchers who offer alternates to the 'useless byproduct' view of music.
Among the 22 articles (as at 10/2/08) on Alzheimer's and dementia included in our lit. search results, ample evidence can be found for the beneficial effects of music-making on patients, not simply on mood enhancement but also on memory and learning.
Researchers include: Bannan, Cohen, Cuddy, Odell-Miller, Sacks, & Schulkind.
Amusia is the inability to recognise musical tones or to reproduce them. It can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired sometime later in life (as from brain damage). The study of this condition, particularly by neuroscientists, has significantly expanded our understanding of how music is processed in the brain (as with much research, studying the absence of a quality sheds light on its presence).
While the inability to recognise tunes is rare among humans, the inability to reproduce them is quite widespread (often what is meant by claiming tone deafness); this condition, more often than not, can be remedied. Researchers include: Cuddy, Hyde, Peretz, Pfordresher, Sloboda.
Analysis of music / music analysis
A discipline that, through breaking down a piece of music into small parts and examining their relationships, attempts to arrive at an understanding of how the piece works. The work of music analysts doesn't appear to have much bearing on the matters that are the focus of this collection of research; even so, we have noted the periodical, Music Analysis and the Society for Music Analysis.
A term that appears to have been coined by Peretz to describe the inability to distinguish tones. As amusia covers such a wide range of dysfunctions, perhaps this concept allows one to make a distinction between conditions displaying an absence of rhythmic sensibility and those in which an absence of pitch sensibility predominates.
(from wikipedia) Autism is a brain development disorder that impairs social interaction and communication, and causes restricted and repetitive behavior, all starting before a child is three years old. This set of signs distinguishes autism from milder autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger syndrome.
From a music perspective autism is of interest from at least three perspectives:
Music's social function has been identified as a possibly useful capacity in treatment. Staum's essay for the Autistic Research Institue and Shore (2002) summmarise many of the music thrapy/autism connections.
People with autism often exhibit remarkable musical intelligence; this ranges from autistics whose primary interaction with their environment is through music to musical savants.
It has also been suggested that the lack of music-making opportunities for young children may be a contributing factor in the increasing incidence of autism.
Researchers include: Panksepp, Roth, Sacks, Thaut, Trevarthen & Wigram.
Biology of music / music biology
The scientific study of the relationships between living things and music. Sometimes called biomusicology, it covers such a huge range of specialisations (including cognition, physiology, medicine, education, psychology and evolution) that, apart from its use as a catchy conference title (see The Biological Foundations of Music), its most useful function may be simply to remind us that music actually has a biological basis. All of the researchers identified in the following material work from this premise.
Biomusic is a music form rooted in the sounds created or performed by living things (ie, not humans). The concept is sometimes extended to include sounds made by humans in a directly 'biological' way (excluding vocalising). For instance, music that is created by the brain waves of the composer can also be called biomusic as can music created by the human body without the use of tools or instruments that are not part of the body. Biomusic can be divided into two basic categories: music that is created solely by the animal (or in some cases, plant), and music that is based on animal noises but has been arranged by a human composer. In this spirit, Gray's Biomusic project is an exemplar. In the context of the origins of music, practitioners of biomusic are active in drawing parallels between human musics and the musics of those with whom we share the planet.
The study of music from a biological point of view. The term was coined by Wallin. Music is an aspect of the behaviour of the human and possibly other species. As humans are living organisms, the scientific study of music is therefore part of biology, thus the "bio" in "biomusicology". It is envisaged as having three branches: evolutionary musicology, neuromusicology and comparative musicology.
Standing, or moving (eg, by walking, running or hopping) on two appendages (typically legs, though it can also include hand walking). Even standing is an active process, requiring constant adjustment of balance (largely initiated through the inner ear).
There are scientists who argue that the physiological and cognitive changes associated with hominids becoming bipedal (eg, the 'dropping' of the larynx and the rhythmic complexities necessary for upright balance and movement) made song and dance possible. Indeed, the development of the human capacity for rhythm is a critical issue in many areas of the study of music. See the rhythm entry for some of the researchers.
Brain's reward system
There are nerve fibre pathways in and around the limbic system of the brain that scientists call the brain's pleasure, or reward, circuit or system. When these neurons are stimulated, we have what we call pleasurable feelings. The primary source of this activation is a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Other biochemicals such as oxytocin and endorphins are also involved in stimulating feelings of pleasure. Research (eg, papers by Blood and Zatorre in 1999 and 2001 along with Menon & Levitin in 2005) indicates that musicking releases the biochemicals that stimulate the brain's reward system. A possible conclusion is that this behaviour improves the survivability of the species. Whether this is so, and why, are big questions for the evolutionary musicologists.
A section of the human brain that is involved in language processing, speech production and comprehension. The concept of Broca's Area was originally produced to explain how speech production was inhibited in the deaf; now it is used to describe many anatomical aspects of psychological processing mechanisms and is known to be involved in aspects of music cognition. Neuroscientists with an interest in music processing are particularly interested in what goes in Broca's Area.
(roughly speaking, "song measurements") is a method for relating the statistical analysis of the (primarily) sonic elements of traditional vocal music to the statistical analysis of sociological traits. Cantometrics thus attempts to relate musical organisation to social organisation by establishing correlations between, eg, vocal quality (such as tense or relaxed), tessitura, textual coherence (presence and percentage of vocables versus meaningful words), melodic contour, on the one hand, with class stratification, gender relations, and sexual mores on the other. Cantometrics was co-created by Victor Grauer and was first publicly proposed by Alan Lomax in 1959, who then launched a group project to implement his vision. In 1968 he published Folk Song Style and Culture, in which he claimed that, "for the first time, predictable and universal relationships have been established between the expressive and communication processes, on the one hand, and social structure and culture pattern, on the other."
Responses to music often include measurable bodily reactions such as goose bumps or shivers down the spine. In 1980, Avram Goldstein, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology at the Stanford School of Medicine (Thrills in response to music and other stimuli) first attempterd to measure and explain these responses thus beginning the hard science investigation of music and emotion. Researchers include: Altenmuller, multiple intelligences" conceptualised by Gardner. In his 2005 essay, Multiple Lenses on The Mind, he describes musical intelligence as "the capacity to create, perform, and appreciate music. Some people call this a talent. That is fine, so long as you recognize that being good with words or with numbers is also a talent. What I cannot accept is that linguistic facility is deemed intelligence, while skill with music or with other persons is merely a talent". Underpinning his concept of this capacity (that many are convinced is innate in us all) is an appreciation that humans perceive and interact with their environment in many different ways, one of which is musical.
Concept developed by Christopher Small: "And if musicking is action and not thing, a verb and not a noun, then we should look for its meaning not in those musical objects, those symphonies and concertos and operas, or even those melodies and songs, that we have been taught to regard as the repositories of musical meaning. You will understand that I'm not trying to deny the existence of those objects, which would be silly, or even to deny that they have meanings in themselves. What I am saying is that the fundamental nature, and thus the meaning, of music lies not in those objects but in the act of musicking. It lies in what people do. Musical objects have meaning only in so far as they contribute to the human activity which is musicking. Only by thinking in that manner can we hope to gain an understanding of its nature and of its function in human life."
Small's conception of musicking as process, not artefact led us to adopt the word with this extension: that, not least because music is made by physically creating and responding to rhythm, we use musicking as the name of our subject and see it as covering vocalisation, dance (rhythmic gesture), and the manipulation of tools with musical intent.
A term coined by Steven Brown to describe a theory that music and language have a common ancestor (see also protolanguage). It is both a model of musical and linguistic evolution and a term coined to describe a certain stage in that evolution. Brown speculates that both music and human language have origins in a phenomenon he calls the "musilanguage" stage of evolution. This model represents the view that the structural features shared by music and language are not the results of mere chance parallelism, nor are they a function of one system emerging from the other-indeed, this model asserts that "music and language are seen as reciprocal specializations of a dual-natured referential emotive communicative precursor, whereby music emphasizes sound as emotive meaning and language emphasizes sound as referential meaning."
Is the study of cells of the nervous system and the organisation of these cells into functional circuits that process information and mediate behavior. It is a subdiscipline of both biology and neuroscience. Neurobiology differs from neuroscience, a much broader field that is concerned with any scientific study of the nervous system. Neurobiology should also not be confused with other subdisciplines of neuroscience such as computational neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, biological psychiatry, neurology, and neuropsychology despite the overlap with these subdisciplines. Researchers include: Damasio, Freeman, Marler, Schlaug & Weinberger.
Neuroimaging covers the use of various techniques and technologies to either directly or indirectly measure and create images of the structure, function and pharmacology of the brain. Neuroscientists use technologies such as EEG, fMRI, MEG, MRI & PET to see inside our heads while the music plays (while we play music is a little more difficult).
Along with evolutionary musicology and comparitive musicology, one of the three branches of biomusicology. It describes the scientific study of the effects of music on the brain. Neuroscientists with a research interest in music include Altenmuller, Avanzini, Besson, Brattico, Brown, Damasio, Freeman, Friederici, Hyde, Koelsch, Kreutz, Magee, Marler, Merker, Overy, Palmer, Pantev, Parsons, Patel, Peretz, Sacks, Schlaug, Skoyles, Stevens, Tervaniemi, Thaut, Tramo, Trevarthen, Weinberger, Will, Wong & Zatorre.
Neuroscience is the discipline of scientifically studying the nervous system, including the brain. Many neuroscience institutes have a strong music focus (see Research institutions& Associations on this page). We owe much of our understanding about the cognition, perception, processing and affect of music to neuroscience, along with being able to make more informed speculations as to its evolution and to more clearly understand its therapeutic capacities.
Are biochemicals that naturally relay, amplify and modulate signals between a neuron and another cell. They include the monoamines, epinephrine, norepinephrine, along with dopamine and serotonin as well as oxytocin and the endorphins. Apart from the monoamines (associated with performance anxiety, all of these biochemicals are associated with feelings of well-being (the brain's reward system at work) and all have been measured as changing during musicking.
A mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In women, it is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and vagina during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of generosity and trust. Popularly known as the cuddle chemical. Dopamine stimulates the production of oxytocin. Freeman was one the first to make the connection between oxytocin and music.
Literally, the study of really ancient humans; which means that anyone concerned with the origins of music has an interest in the field. A more precise description is the scientific study of the early members of the hominid family through their fossil remains. Mithen a, palaeoarchaeologist, has, with The Singing Neanderthals, produced a major palaeoanthropological text.
The study of the earliest humans and their predecessors. As both 'palaeo' and 'archaeo' derive from concepts of ancientness, it means that the evidence being examined is really really old - indeed, fossilised. The difference between this and palaeoanthropology is difficult for us to see, but nevertheless the palaeo-ists are making profound contributions to our understanding of the origins of music . Researchers include: Gamble, Mithen & Morley.
The link above is to material on music and Parkinson's from the Beth Abraham IMNF. The Director Tomaino and her friend Sacks have done significant research into the beneficial effects of musicking on parkinsonians. See also Thaut.
Perception of music / music perception
In this context, perception can be described as making meaning from sensory stimuli. In this case of music perception, fascinating questions arise: the most obvious 'meanings' of music are emotional - what is the balance between personally idiosyncratic, culturally determined and universal (unconcsiously arrived at) meanings? What meanings do we make and how do we make them and how much and what sort of 'training' is needed in order to appreciate the intended meanings of its makers? These questions engage those pondering music perception. They include: Aiello Clarke, Costa-Giomi, Cuddy, Deutsch, Dibben, Gjerdingen, Kreutz, Krumhansl, McDermott, Palmer, Parncutt, Patel, Pfordresher, Saffran, Schellenberg, Shannon, Sloboda, Stevens & Trehub.
The fear that may be experienced while performing or while preparing for and anticipating a performance. Performance anxiety, a subset of stress, is little different from general anxiety (see Carole Miller's website for illuminating stuff).
Its symptoms are cognitive, behavioural and physiological and are closely associated with the action of cortisol and epinephrine in the bloodstream and the brain. Music teachers (and professional musicians and singers) have spent centuries exploring ways of reducing performance anxiety because, even though it is recognised that these 'flight or fight' biochemicals sometimes allow us to do superhuman things, the stress levels are often overwhelming.
In terms of the social bonding potential of group music-making, it is quite possible that the biochemicals stimulated through public performance inhibit, if not drown out, the effects of the dopamine associated neurotransmitters (at least in the performers).
Researchers include: Kreutz& Rickard.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a neuroimaging process that measures and maps emissions from radioactively labeled metabolically active chemicals that have been injected into the bloodstream.
Is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony). See Jordania who demonstrates that choral polyphony is not a manifestation of sophisticated European musical development (as is presumed by many musicologists) but rather is a world-wide traditional form of music-making that is likely to be in a direct line from the musical protolanguage that preceded the emergence of language as we now recognise it.
The simplest description of positive psychology is the study of mental wellness rather than the study of mental illness. Thought of in this way, it has similarities to salutogenesis, in which the same distinction is made in relation to medicine generally. Both theories identify the absence of stress as the key to wellness. The key thinker whose work underpins positive psychology is Csikszentmihalyi. His concept of 'flow' as the mental state supporting mental wellness parallels Antonovsky's 'state of coherence'. Both concepts can be seen to emerge from the practice of musicking as envisaged by many evolutionary musicologists.
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Whatever meaning is communicated through these means (and it is usually more emotional than directly referential), it is being done musically rather than linguistically. Language takes on musical characteristics (or remembers its musical roots). This is particularly the case with infant directed speech and in tone-based languages such as Mandarin.
Is a language that was the common ancestor of related languages that form a language family. If music predates language, then it may be the 'protolanguage' of language. See Wray and her concept, 'formulaic language', Brown's concept of musilanguage, Mithen's Hmmmmm and Bispham's socio-affective confluential communication.
Is the study of subjective human perception of sounds. Alternatively, it can be described as the study of the psychological correlates of the physical parameters of acoustics. It's a word that's been around a long time (foreshadowing concepts like music perception and music cognition) that has lately taken on some currency in 'sonic healing' circles. Along with its new age garb, psychoacoustics continues to be a useful concept for many of the more hard-edged researchers, in that it expands the concepts of music cognition and perception into the wider sphere of sound in general. These include: Grewe, McDermott, Parncutt, Roederer & Shannon.
(from Wikipedia) 'The branch of psychology that is concerned with the physiological bases of psychological processes'. What's happening in our bodies when we're feeling that a way? To what extent are my psychological states influenced by the response of my physiology to external stimuli, like, for example, music? Researchers in this field have a lot to say about the connections between music and emotion. These researchers have written from a psychophysiological perspective: Besson, Jentschke, Koelsch, Kreutz & Krumhansl.
Almost as often as 'harmony', this musical concept is used to describe ideal states. The question whether the capacity to create and respond to musical rhythm is uniquely human and innate lies at the core of adaptative thinking and the study of evolutionary musicology. In particular, the entrainment phenomenon that occurs in musicking is of great interest to those wishing to understand the biological function socially creating and responding to periodic pulses.
Researchers include: Bispham, Mithen, Patel, Repp & Trevarthen.
The rhythmical nature of music is at the core of many of its therapeutic applications. A good example is its use in managing Parkinson's.
Is an alternative medicine concept that focuses on factors that support human health and wellbeing rather than on factors that cause disease. The term comes from the Latin 'salus' = health and the Greek 'genesis' = origin. It was first used by Aaron Antonovsky in 1979, who studied the influence of a variety of sources of stress on health and was able to show that relatively unstressed people had much more resistance to illness than those who were more stressed. Antonovsky argued that the experience of wellbeing constitutes a Sense of Coherence (SOC). Though modern medicine has increasingly come to ask about the origin of illness, Antonovsky suggested that an equally important question to pose is: "what is the origin of health?"
Antonovsky's SOC has complementarities with Flow, a concept developed at around the same time, that posits an internal integration that mirrors Antonovsky's more social context. Both could be seen to be describing a state enhanced by music-making's social bonding function.
See musical savants.
Secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA)
A protein considered as the body's first line of defence against bacterial infections of the upper respiratory pathway. A number of studies show that its presence is increased through group singing (Beck et al, Kuhn, Kroetz et al)
Serotonin (5-hydrozytryptamine or 5-HT) is a neurotransmitter synthesised in neurons in the central nervous system and cells in the gastrointestinal tract of animals including humans. Low levels of serotonin may be associated with several conditions, including increases in aggressive and angry behaviours, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive, bipolar and anxiety disorders. Fost, among others, has linked rises in serotonin levels to enhanced capacity to socially bond, and there are indications that music-making plays an important function in facilitating the biochemical conditions for this to occur (eg, see Evers).
It's obvious that music-making is a social behaviour: there's a heap of sociological and historical material attesting to music's function as a facilitator, solidifier and signifier of social development. Perhaps because this function is so clear, a body of theory has emerged that proposes that music-making's biologically determined function was/is to facilitate hominid social cohesion beyond the narrow boundaries of kin. Also, many of those that favour an evolutionary theory that includes the idea of group selection see music's adaptative development as critical. Researchers with an an interest in exploring the evolutionary basis of music's socialising function include: Aiello, Benzon, Brown, Cross, Dunbar, Freeman, Gamble, Hagen, Huron, Silk & Tomasello.
Socio-affective confluential communication
Bispham's suggestion as a functional description of music. It concisely includes music's social dimension, its emotional power, and the simultaneous activation of both our expressive and receptive organs. Some other researchers whose work is heading in the same direction include: Benzon, Brown, Cross & Merker.
Sociology of music / music sociology
The study of: music's function in social life (historical and contemporary); the social structures involved in the production and consumption of music; the uses to which music is/has been put in society; music's function as a medium for socio-political and cultural development and change; music's biological function as facilitator of social behaviour; music's function through infant, child and adolescent social development. While music sociology is itself a subset of musicology, it is clearly a huge field: musicking is a ubiquitous social activity and can be viewed from a myriad of perspectives. The more we know about the ways music is and has been applied in societies (eg, Amandla and The Singing Revolution), the better may we be able to understand its biological function.And on the way, one comes across gems like Marcus's Lipstick Traces.
Researchers with a sociological bent include: DeNora, Batt-Rawden, Cross, Hargreaves, Miell, North, Procter & Stige.
The idea that sound vibrations are benefical is as old as it is new. From Tibetan mantras to Tomatis, humans have always perceived a positive connection between health and the buzz. While music therapy tends to take a medical approach (the cure or alleviation of ailments), there are scores of new age music/health phenomena that, through synthesising ancient insights with contemporary neuroscience, have developed solid practices for achieving and maintaining wellbeing through musicking.
There are philosophies that see the function of sonics in our existence going far beyond wellbeing. Berendt's 'The World Is Sound' goes the whole hog. Finding common cause between Hinduism and modern physics, he demonstrates that vibration is all.
(from wikipedia) 'Stress is the condition that results when person-environment transactions lead the individual to perceive a discrepancy, whether real or not, between the demands of a situation and the resources of the person's biological, psychological or social systems'. Proponents of salutogenesis and positive psychology view the absence of stress as the prime factor in wellness, physical and mental. Beyond the considerable research demonstrating the immediate and relieving impact of music on individuals' stress levels (eg, Burns et al, Georgi et al& Hasegawa et al), there remains the function of musicking in helping to create the conditions in which stress does not figure: 'wellbeing', 'flow', 'sense of coherence'. These concepts all have a sense of connectedness as a key element - a sensation that is experienced and modelled through musicking. Musicking's adaptative function as a means of promoting social behaviour should be emerging as a key informant of social inclusion strategies (we wish!).
On a different, but related, tack, stresses that may emerge in music-making, sometimes called performance anxiety, are the subject of research, theory and therapy.
See music therapy.