Can Music Hack Your Brain?

-'Oh,_Susanna'_pentatonic_melody by Hyacinth at en.wikipedia

Can music hack your brain?

“When music hits you, you feel no pain” –Bob Marley

It’s an ongoing task to define the power of music. The notion of “power” is quite vague, but when put into visual context, the idea illuminates multiple reasons to believe that music simultaneously plays a corresponding chord in our brain. In other words, we flow to the same beat. For a moment, disregard cultural conditioning and subjective interpretations; music, at its fundamental root, stimulates the mind and body.

It’s in many ways the essence of our being—we constantly dance to the rhythm of life and this pure aspect of sound and movement is alive in every culture.
I’ve certainly experienced it while traveling abroad—where conversations about music are aligned with other topics worth discussing. Music helped me connect with my Korean students. There was no room for misunderstanding.

Music is a significant tool used for learning our most profound existential truths and to also preserve our most precious aspects of culture.

“Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.” –Oliver Sacks

Music is the universal language of understanding, in which the very idea of bringing people together falls in line with rhythm, coordination, and participation. There is a natural element which exists within our hard-wired brains, but we also must have the passion and/or intellectual capacity to grasp and move with it.

Bobby Mcferrin demonstrated his musicality at the “Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus” event at the 2009 Word Science Festival.

In just under 3-mintues, Bobby Mcferrin hacked into the minds of the audience. In his demonstrative performance, he used his vocal improvisation; seduced the audience with his brilliant crowd leadership; and re-introduced the ubiquitous and universal pentatonic scale.

Henry: the following video illustrates an Alzheimer’s patient. Henry passionately reacted to music from his era; a brilliant capture of nostalgia colliding with music and how it hits very close to home.
The short film has over 5million views on youtube.

Bobby McFerrin provides another brilliant improvisation session featuring thousands of people. The combination of pure leadership, orchestration, and patience hacks the mind. It grabs, embraces, and clutches our attention. The magnificent power of connection through music resonates through all of us; it often takes the performance arts to remind us of our inner power to connect and stay in sync.

Much love and respect to Adam Yauch, founding memeber of the Beastie Boys. He recently died of cancer but definitely cemented a legacy of music and filmmaking.

There is also a connection with music and politics. Music can spark movements…as with any form of art. On a non-political scale, I’d like to reiterate the importance of social connection. I’ll leave you with the following video…during a break between classes, in which my student desperately wanted to learn the lyrics to a song.

  1 comment for “Can Music Hack Your Brain?

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