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Thread: Psychological and metaphysical aspects of Music

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Psychological and metaphysical aspects of Music

    If there's a better forum to place this in, let me know, or just go ahead and move it. I'm brand new here, so I'd just like to share what I'm all about, and what goes thru my head on the frontier of music.


    One of the greatest things about studying a discipline is that there's always something new to learn. Whether you're a theorist or a performer or a composer, There's always a next level.

    So, on a much grander scale--how humanity perceives and expresses music-- what is the next level?

    Well, I suppose we could start with general historical observations.

    First, music was probably used as entertainment to pass time. I mean, what is a hunter/wanderer gonna do when he's not eating, hunting/wandering, or sleeping? Well, besides planning the rest of our existence, they gotta do somethin...
    When humanity desired reason for existence and things around them and began worshipping Gods and seasons and so forth, Music was ritualized as well. A tribal dance to the rain season for a good harvest....
    For thousands of years, and obviously still, rhythms and combinations of pitches were played for fun and for God. Only in the last 1000 years have we attempted to a)write down/record music, and therefore b)create a system of arranging music.
    But, how could one begin to organize something you could only hear? Well, what sounds natural, right? Thus, the birth of music theory. Music Theory is essentially based off of our ears, what sounds 'right' together as a group of pitches or a sequence of pitches, in equal or related rhythms. As we further and further dissected what sounds good (and bad) we began to develop reasons and even more aspects of music theory.
    Now in the last 100 years or less, with analysis of physics and acoustics, we can give scientific theories, frequency analysis, etc.
    And with this comes psychoacoustics--the study of the perception of sound, and how it affects us.

    Bam, the history of music right? hehehe....

    So, back to my original question. What's the next level? We've only begun to scrape the surface of psychoacoustics and physics, and anything discovered is only theoretical.
    Everything is a wavelength, everything has a vibration. Whether it be a block of iron, water, air... everything around us exists as a frequency, and our perception somehow categorizes these frequencies into different matter.

    Sound itself manipulates matter. To get from a source to your ear, air particles are moved at varying speeds in every direction, moving the next air particles, etc to arrive at your ear.

    So can Sound manipulate us? Can a frequency penetrate our skin, and resonate in our bones?

    EVEN MORE-- can sound penetrate your skull and manipulate the frequency of matter that is your brain? and therefore your nerve firings (thoughts)?

    Touched more in Part One was different ways music affects us already, and possibly why. So-- more on that.
    Different styles of existing music can do a number of things, make you change moods, make you relive a memory, make you move... whatever it does, it is manipulating our consciousness in some way.
    How can a sound suddenly trigger a random memory of being in a store with an old girlfriend? or playing in the pool with your cousin?
    How can sound make you feel compelled to move your body? This might be attributed to thousands of years of ritual or entertaining dances to music. Primitively, the only instruments were banging on stuff that makes different sounds--so the easiest way to interact would be to bang on something else or move to the pattern that they're banging.
    How can sound make you change your mood?

    Do you think true music (I mean music that is created for the purpose of being art, not solely for profit) will ever evolve into an audible story starring the listener? I can also see, from the 'dark side' it evolving into a method of propaganda, a method to insert beliefs, thoughts, or feelings into the listener.



    Quite a lot of words... I really just felt like writing about music tonight
    Thanks for reading, I don't usually post this long on other BBS's, only on topics that intrigue me this much.
    PLEASE, post your thoughts and your links and your book titles. Everyone benefits!

  2. #2
    Sweetest of the bees sugarbee's Avatar
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    Hey there,
    Wow, there certainly is a lot to ponder in these words. I also agree wih you that there is always something new to learn about music, about most things, but music has so many complexities and it means so many different things to different people. You seem to have a pretty good knowledge of this stuff. I only had a chance to read it quickly, but I hope to come back to it when I have a bit more time and read and consider your points more. Just wanted to say thanks for providing us with something new and a bit different to think about. You maight want to think about contributing an actual article on this stuff. Not really sure about how you do that, but it would enable you to go more into depth. Anyway, just a thought, thanks again for the wisdom!

  3. #3
    Headbang Master Slaindude's Avatar
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    Hi there,

    It was pretty interesting reading your post and it made me remember that thread i started about how can music affect the metabolism of a living organism for example, you might want to check it out. http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ead.php?t=4892

    Anyway, yeah i do believe that it changes the way we are everyday, it doesn't force us to make choice we don't want too but it sures have a great influence on our mood and our choices. Why and how, that's a mystery, but you know, music is one of the greatest unknown science out there! What is the next level ? Good question, but i think that the next level of the comprehension of our world, how we act, react or simply live, lies in music. Music is something so pure, well at least to me, and thats why i believe that the next level is music to men. But hell, the next level.. We'll see in time!

  4. #4
    Experimentalist Koala's Avatar
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    Great introductory post Blastrid, you sure will be adding some great new stuff to the website. A couple books I have read on the topic are:
    Music, the brain and ecstasy. How music captures our imagination by Robert Jourdain and Emotion and meaning in music by Leonard B. Meyer .
    My guess is youve already read through both of them, but if you havnt I really recommend them.

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    Cool, thanks for the reading material. I'm gonna go to the bookstore later this week.

    2 books that have mainly fueled this curiosity:
    Music, Cognition, and Computerized Sound: An Introduction to Psychoacoustics
    Edited by Perry R. Cook

    Beethoven's Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture
    by William Benzon

    Artists that have fueled this curiosity:
    Tool
    Boards of Canada
    Mouse on Mars
    Pink Floyd

  6. #6
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Yup, music is pretty cool.

    Thanks for joining and welcome aboard. I think this forum was a great choice for your post. Don't be disappointed if you don't get a lot of immediate responses--there's a lot to think about there.

    I think because folks have recognized the incredibly powerful influence music has on us, the idea that it would be exploited for Evil is a notion that goes back a long, long way. Nationalism is obviously a social symptom that can be (and has been) strongly influenced & nurtured with music.

    As long as governments actively support (not simply tolerate) and foster the expression of diverse and non-popular opinion, we have our best chance, I think.
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

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    Thanks for the replies so far, I'm used to another board I've frequented that moved quite fast.

    Remember how intriguing all those accusations that bands in the 70's were putting subliminal messages backwards in their music?

    Although subliminal messaging is interesting, avoiding that and focusing on the actual frequencies and resonances is what I'd like to do here.

    Unfortunately, I never studied physics in school, hopefully you all would like to fill in some gaps or answer some hypotheticals?

    While attempting to incorporate the intentions of some 'New Age healers' and how they 'heal' with sound-bowls and the such, I'd like to consider the possibility that sound can affect us in this way without including the methods and practices of those New-Agers.
    For Instance, I make electronic music. Is it possible to make sounds that make your bones tickle? Considering the fact that every matter has a resonant frequency, can a combination of tones send a wave through your skin, organs, bones...
    OR-- anyone ever heard of Brainwave Generator (www.bwgen.com)? It plays binaural tones in your headphones to induce certain brainwave patterns, such as sleep induction, meditation, even presets reaching to Astral Projection and the likes.
    I've heard rumors of some artists including this subtly in their music, like Mogwai or Boards of Canada. Anyone else have knowledge in this topic?

    I understand the speed of this board, and I respect it. This is a very deep topic so please take your time. I'd love to read any of your responses, no matter what they are. Also, thank you all for the generous welcome!

  8. #8
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    I have been studying binaural recordings and photonic retinal stimulation since 1990. I had the good fortune to meet (via phone) one of the formost authorities on brain research in 1991. Fascinating topic. Indians use traveling drums for entrainment (these drums create beat frequencies in the Alpha range). Have you ever found yourself in a club under the strobes loosing your sense of time? This is photonic stimulation. Strobes tuned to alpha cause you to "space out". This is because your brain starts to entrain to the frequency of the flashes. So you have "instant" alpha.
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Szulc's Site

  9. #9
    Experimentalist Koala's Avatar
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    Blast, Im listening to the brainwave generator as we speak. I had never tried binaural recordings nor do I know the veracity of its "effectiveness" but hey im giving it a try right now.
    Interesting reading material at the Generator site, any more stuff online youve read about this?
    In the following months I have to write up my thesis for my communication science major and i probablly will go along the lines of a soundseum. The idea of binaural recordings brings exciting new possibilities to the writing.

    thanks

  10. #10
    Sweetest of the bees sugarbee's Avatar
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    Hey,
    I am also giving a listen to this stuff, I have heard about it but never tried it before. once I have some time to really try it out I'll let you know how it affects me or doesn't. I like to try this stuff out, think about it.

    One thing I can say, is that one of the most pleasurable feelings in the world to me, is the sensation I get after I have been singing for a nice long time, and my throat and chest have been full of vibrations. It's the feeling I get after though, in the silence after I have finished. It's like I can still feel the vibration even though my vocal chords have stopped moving. It's heavenly, it changes the way I feel, it's indescribable...I swear if I could always feel this sensation it would be preferable. I don't know if it is a psychological thing-just a physical reminder of what I most love to do, or if it really is significant, either way, it's one of my favorite feelings. Not that I know anything about this, but it's cool to think about.

  11. #11
    Registered User IdViscous's Avatar
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    Music of course influences circomstances where human beings are moved to act differently... i have devoted my life to music for example... People are even shooting people over music these days... but this is the profound effect on consciousness.

    but i think the problem is easily solved in the physical realm where the sound does not dictate the event but is an effect of the event for those who hear... your strumming does create physical change, but if no one is tehre to hear the sound... it is outside the equation and your talking about mechanics of things at that point, and sound becomes merely a perception word that doesn't portain to a consciousnessless issue. (tree falls in the forest, bla bla bla...)

    Though why sound? Sound obviously manifests itself in human beings to pick out some facts about the world of which they are conscious of, for particular reasons... and music is the strangest of all, since it is a collection of humanities favourite sounds in some complex composition, in some kind of utility that refers to itself. But i dont think the question is of whether sound makes things move, but what are the sounds of things moving.

    sound is for the mind, not the bones... we just may use sound to figure out what the underlying physical cause is.

  12. #12
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    So, on a much grander scale--how humanity perceives and expresses music-- what is the next level?
    Great post, bro. There have been several excellent threads regarding the evolution of music on several forums (both music and "future" specific) like NewMusicBox.org & Ray Kurzweil's "Mind-X". If you're interested, I'll drag some quotes over to toss some gas on the fire (hahaha!!!).

    Music, the brain and ecstasy.
    I didn;t care for this book. I've got it laying around here somewhere, so when I have a few moments I'll be more specific about my issues with it. Perhaps you can shed some light for me.

    While attempting to incorporate the intentions of some 'New Age healers' and how they 'heal' with sound-bowls and the such, I'd like to consider the possibility that sound can affect us in this way without including the methods and practices of those New-Agers.
    You might want to start from scratch and take a more scientific approach.
    http://www.bwgen.com/
    anyone ever heard of Brainwave Generator (www.bwgen.com)? It plays binaural tones in your headphones to induce certain brainwave patterns, such as sleep induction, meditation, even presets reaching to Astral Projection and the likes.
    I've heard rumors of some artists including this subtly in their music, like Mogwai or Boards of Canada. Anyone else have knowledge in this topic?
    I'll check that out. I read a few things back in the 80s and ended up trying out some stuff (blue-field goggles with white noise generator, laying in the geodesic dome, isolation tank, etc.) including the binaural beats thing. Not sure if the results were total psychology or not, but this is a nice excuse to experiment again.
    --
    David M. McLean
    Skinny Devil Music Lab
    www.skinnydevil.com

    "...embrace your fear..."

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