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Thread: Quantum mechanics:Brain:Musical Ability Limit

  1. #1
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Quantum mechanics:Brain:Musical Ability Limit

    A philosophical post really, food for thought if you like.

    In my general search for understanding of things in general (I commute by train everyday and read alot, it kills the time) I have read a number of books and articles on quantum mechanics.(bear with me)

    One of the things that comes through again and again is that the ordinary non physicist or mathematician will generally struggle to understand the concept of the theories because the side of the brain which formulates linear thought always takes over.

    The theory on this is that the brain is effectively divided into two halves (nothing new here I'm sure) but they are only connected by thin tissue which means that the two halves generally behave as if we have two seperate brains.

    The left side of the brain controls the right side of the physical body and the right side of the body the left side of the body. so we use the right side of our brain to control the left hand on the fretboard.

    Also the left side of the brain perceives the world in a linear manner, for example language which is linear. As you read this you flow along the line form left to right. The right hand side of the brain perceives the world as whole patterns. Maybe this is why plenty of people are great at learning scales up and down and all over the placein a linear way but when it comes to improvisation they cannot be as creative as others.

    They have discovered that when tested seperately it is found the left side of the brain remembers how to speak words while the right brain cannot. BUT the right side of the brain remembers lyrics to songs!

    I have been trying to apply this to guitar playing and wondering that if the general consensus is that people struggle to understand general irrational concepts about quantum physics then perhaps the same applies with musical creativity which is individual, cannot be written down and therefore is in effect an irrational process .

    We right handers play with the left hand dictating the melodic and harmonic patterns driven by the right side of the brain, the side which is more whole concept but it is also the least used side of the brain and as we have evolved we use the left side much more for everyday life.

    I wonder if this is perhaps why some players struggle more to be creative and to understand the whole concept of music, (which although logical takes irrational though and creativity to interpret originally) and apply it to their playing.

    They have not "trained" the right side of the brain to grasp the concepts as a whole and always seek for the left side of the brain to try to grasp a concept which it is not good at.

    If this is true then perhaps the level at which you are able to use the right side of the brain dictates at what level you will ever be able to play the guitar and in a way suggests that everyone has a limit to their ability based on the accessability of the right brain.

    Perhaps we should also be teaching and learning how to free that side of the brain and at the same time free peoples creativity and the limit to their ability.

    Does anyone know how the guitar developed with the fretboard played by the left hand for right handers?

    Maybe this has something to do with it and good players with great natural ability have simply the natural ability to tap into that side of the brain more effectively and free their creative genius.

  2. #2
    Registered User PonyNPepper's Avatar
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    Whoooa... That's deep. I think I need to spend some time in Cheech and Chongs van after that Very interesting though. I wonder where that would leave me... I'm left handed but I play right handed. So the left (or linear as you put it) side of my brain controls my strumming hand and the right side controls my fretting hand. Maybe this is why I'm so screwed up... I suck at scales because I'm using the creative side to do something linear (strike 1), I can't keep a rhythm while strumming because I'm using the linear side to be "creative" (strike 2) and being left handed I have limited fine motor control in my right hand so picking individual strings is a challenge (strike 3). DOHHHHHH!


  3. #3
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    I don't know if it might be reversed for left handers...

    I'll try to find out.

    But, yeah you see where I'm coming from, maybe it's in our genes!

  4. #4
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I don't know if I'm mistaken but I seem to remember from my neurology/psychiatry class that the right side of the brain controlled language altogether, there was not such subdivision of a certain hemisfere controlling one aspect of language and the other one another one, the right side is also the one in control of the creative sparks and art appreciation, where the left side handles math and logic, pattern recognition falls inside the functions handled by that side (that's why mathematicians have a more developped skill when it comes to patterns and sequences). Memory is controlled by the temple lobule (or however you call it in english) so wether is lyrics for a song, a phone number or a physics formula the information per se is stored there and later the appropriate section of the brain "reads" it.

    What IS funny is that a lot of very creative people are in fact left handed, but once again there are plenty of right handed examples to throw that theory off...

    Creativity is innate of humans, we need to be creative in order to adapt and survive, what tends to impare that capactiy is society and the obsene amounts of time kids spend watching TV. We are improvising constantly, when we write, when we speak (those of us who lecture or write creatively for amusement too), when we "come up" with an alternative solution to a problem, when we drive in Houston () we are exercising creativity.

    It's all a matter of putting that to work in music. A lot of time the solution for "my solos are lame" type of thing is learning a couple of things, why are they lame? Say monotonous rhythms, well, then work on some rhythmic rudiments, poor note choice? Get your hands on some harmony books and experiment over different chords, not clean enough phrasing, uneven dynamics? INEXISTENT dynamics? you get my point.

    But back to the brain, it's very interesting stuff, but I doubt its configuration will repercute in one's ability to do one thing or another. I instead believe it's a response to stimulation, you "like math" so you do math and develop a mathematical brain, you "like science" so you do science and develop and analytical brain, or you like languages and art so you do it and develop and "artistic brain". You are what you eat and your brain is what you feed it.

    Jorge Maldonado reporting from Houston, IBM
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  5. #5
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    By the sounds of things you're probably more qualified to comment than I am.

    I think the discovery of the reading linear language for the left and pattern repitition including song lyrics etc. ( because it's an illogical pattern not linear) came from research into brain surgery techniques used in treating epilypsy etc.

    However, as the majority of these books were fundamentally about layman's interpretation of physics and not about the brain functions they really only touched on it ando f course don't quote sources or go into much detail on exact cases.

    But they do seem adamant in that field that the reason most people find the grasping of the concept of quantum mechanics (the idea that sub atomic "particles" effectively only exist because we observe them) is becasue the right side of their brain is underdeveloped and we are effectively trained to be logical and pragmatic because thats how the world is as we see it. How can something not really exist unless we look at it? How can a particle not actually be a particle?

    I wondered if that underdevelopment is related to innate creative thinking and it's limitation to the individual.

    Actually I think there is plsnety of evidence to suggest when we read and write we aren't being innovative we are simply following patterns which is. eg. when you read this sentence your brain anticipates the word that comes next becaus eof your knoweldge of the pattern of the language not becasue you actually read the word. If you take the time to reach each word you would read much slower, try it and you'll see..

    I think this also applies to music, your brain effectively "knows" whats coming next by practice of seeing the repitition of pattern on a muscis score, other wise there is no way your brain could move fast enough to control your fingers by reading straight off. Great Sight readers are excellent "brain guessers" of what coming next but not all are necessarily great improvisers...IN fact most classical muscians I klnow ehen face with the prospect of innovation shy away from it and falll back on playing pieces which they know and patterns which they recall.

    Maybe we are what we eat and our brain is what we feed it, but maybe not.

    I have to say you've fallen distinctly on one side of the nature vs nurture debate.

    I'm not sure I wholly agree with you on that one. But I know we probably both agree this site is not the place for that debate

    On the other hand, I DO absoultely agree with you that the only way to become proficient is to work hard and practice and recognise your weaknesses and to work on ways of overcoming them.

    But that said, what stands the true innovators, I mean true guitar geniuses apart from the rest who maybe pros and know their stuff inside and out but will never be truly innovative or find ways of doing stuff that others haven't done before?

    I wonder what sets them apart from the rest? Hard work, yes. But you know there's that x factor and where does that come from?

    Otherwise we could all paint like Van Gogh our play guitar like whoever our favourite genius is and the reality is that no matter how hard some people try they will never be able to do that.

  6. #6
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    Very interesting ideas!

    IMO, most things boil down to a couple basic issues. Talent, work ethic, ability to see your weaknesses and find a way to overcome them, setting realistic goals, learning how to learn efficiently... and so on.

    Most people don't want to focus on their own flaws or weaknesses so they don't fix them. Or they want a quick answer which will show them the "secret" to being a musician. Or some people think that being knowledgeable is a bad thing! Example: "I never learned no theory, I don't need no stinkin' theory" Okay, hope it works out for you!
    -Bizarro
    Google is your friend

  7. #7
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Tell me about it!

    I really wish I'd taken some time to learn the theory I'm learning now like 15 years ago, I wonder what kind of a player I would be now. That's why I love coming to this site! There is so much knowledge and theory here it's great, and I suppose I suck it up a lot quicker because I've been playing for so long in any case but damn! I rue that wasted time...

    And yes, what your saying is absolutely right unless we push ourselves and are constantly critical of ourselves and strive for improvement we can probably never know how good we could be or what our true limitations are.

    I wouldn't want anyone to feel they have an "inbuilt" limitation to their goals and dreams or use it as an excuse for why they shouldn't try as hard as they can!

    I'd also be particularly gutted to find that when my judgement day comes they said, "Oh and er...by the way you could have been the greatest guitarist ever if only you'd tried harder"!

    That'd be like dying twice!!!

    Heh heh, guess what I'm off to do now! Brain don't fail me now.

    Have a good weekend all.

  8. #8
    Registered User IdViscous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UKRuss
    A philosophical post really, food for thought if you like.

    In my general search for understanding of things in general (I commute by train everyday and read alot, it kills the time) I have read a number of books and articles on quantum mechanics.(bear with me)

    One of the things that comes through again and again is that the ordinary non physicist or mathematician will generally struggle to understand the concept of the theories because the side of the brain which formulates linear thought always takes over.

    The theory on this is that the brain is effectively divided into two halves (nothing new here I'm sure) but they are only connected by thin tissue which means that the two halves generally behave as if we have two seperate brains.

    The left side of the brain controls the right side of the physical body and the right side of the body the left side of the body. so we use the right side of our brain to control the left hand on the fretboard.

    Also the left side of the brain perceives the world in a linear manner, for example language which is linear. As you read this you flow along the line form left to right. The right hand side of the brain perceives the world as whole patterns. Maybe this is why plenty of people are great at learning scales up and down and all over the placein a linear way but when it comes to improvisation they cannot be as creative as others.

    They have discovered that when tested seperately it is found the left side of the brain remembers how to speak words while the right brain cannot. BUT the right side of the brain remembers lyrics to songs!

    I have been trying to apply this to guitar playing and wondering that if the general consensus is that people struggle to understand general irrational concepts about quantum physics then perhaps the same applies with musical creativity which is individual, cannot be written down and therefore is in effect an irrational process .

    We right handers play with the left hand dictating the melodic and harmonic patterns driven by the right side of the brain, the side which is more whole concept but it is also the least used side of the brain and as we have evolved we use the left side much more for everyday life.

    I wonder if this is perhaps why some players struggle more to be creative and to understand the whole concept of music, (which although logical takes irrational though and creativity to interpret originally) and apply it to their playing.

    They have not "trained" the right side of the brain to grasp the concepts as a whole and always seek for the left side of the brain to try to grasp a concept which it is not good at.

    If this is true then perhaps the level at which you are able to use the right side of the brain dictates at what level you will ever be able to play the guitar and in a way suggests that everyone has a limit to their ability based on the accessability of the right brain.

    Perhaps we should also be teaching and learning how to free that side of the brain and at the same time free peoples creativity and the limit to their ability.

    Does anyone know how the guitar developed with the fretboard played by the left hand for right handers?

    Maybe this has something to do with it and good players with great natural ability have simply the natural ability to tap into that side of the brain more effectively and free their creative genius.
    I think you've already warranted freeing your creativity and smashing your limits buy abstracting these empirical neurological facts from yourself in consciousness... either way when you were explaining this i was thinking that left brain and right brain aren't so specialized as it seems... in fact if you remove half your brain the other half will start to take on the tasks of the missing. So the complicated situation is is that right and left brain are yin and yang with alittle part of each inside, and to isolate it neurologically is facinating, but it does very little in how your going to cultivate your intuition beyond your rationality and vice versa (even these entities seem to fade into unity when we deconstruct the word-concepts)... Either way, if you acknowledge that your right brain activities (your left hand workings) are lacking... it seems to make sense that practice with your left hand will muscle up that right side since activity will be brought up in that area, bbut im hesitatnt to see things so clear cut. I mean my right hand which strums and picks the strings is concerned with timing, is that a left brain function because timing is a rationalizing impluse... or is it an intuitive impulse because i'm more concious of what my left hand is doing since i must keep my right hand consitent and in hindsight.....

  9. #9
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    I like your thoughts on it.

    And the answer to all your questions is, I don't know....

    It is interesting to debate thats for sure.

    I think you might have hit the nail on the head though with your first statement in that perhaps simply being aware that this is a possible area in which limitations may lie is already the first step in overcoming them.

    My new Ibanez arrives tomorrow (Xmas early!) and I shall certainly be trying damn hard over the rest of the holidays to overcome any limitations I might have previously placed on my self!

    The only question left to answer then:

    Does my Ibanez really exist if I am not there to play it?

    Happy Xmas and an existentialist New Year.

  10. #10
    Registered User IdViscous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UKRuss
    I like your thoughts on it.

    And the answer to all your questions is, I don't know....

    It is interesting to debate thats for sure.

    I think you might have hit the nail on the head though with your first statement in that perhaps simply being aware that this is a possible area in which limitations may lie is already the first step in overcoming them.

    My new Ibanez arrives tomorrow (Xmas early!) and I shall certainly be trying damn hard over the rest of the holidays to overcome any limitations I might have previously placed on my self!

    The only question left to answer then:

    Does my Ibanez really exist if I am not there to play it?

    Happy Xmas and an existentialist New Year.
    Of course your Ibanez exists, you're thinking about it

  11. #11
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Lol

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