Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jan Johansson - Emigrantvisa

My Sunday mornings move at an entirely different musical pace from the rest of the week. While cleaning the apartment I normally have classical, jazz, or oral stories playing on the iPod. As I am preparing to prove my proficiency in Swedish to the university via a foreign language assessment test, this morning was spent listening to Jan Johanson's pair of quintessential 1960s albums, which are comprised of traditional Swedish and Russian folk songs translated into jazz.

On a slightly different tangent of technical reading, leading neurologist Oliver Sacks does a lovely job of describing the relationship between music and the brain in his Musicophillia--some of which I've tried to tap into for my novel-in-editing, Phase Line Escher.

Music is apparently one of the most engaging neurological phenomena, and simultaneously draws on multiple subsystems governing emotion, motorfunctions, cognitive focus, and memory. A German researcher has likened its effects to that of a skin orgasm, a kind of burst of intertwined physical and mental feelings. Additionally, practiced musicians cross-wire their brains (integrate the left and right hemispheres)to such an extent that it can often readily be seen on MRI scans.

There seems to be two broad schools of thought regarding music in an evolutionary context. One is that it is a delicious accident: an intense and unintended synergy that arises from separately evolved subsystems, and that is easily co-opted by the cultures that our brains are built to be molded by. The other is that originally our verbal communications were much more emotive and musical in nature, and that we may have given up some of that musicality in exchange for a greater semantic precision--i.e. more exact meaning in our speech.

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