|Music is a dreadful thing. What is it? I don't understand it. What does it do? It exalts the soul. Utter nonsense. If you hear a marching band, is your soul exalted? No, you march. If you hear a waltz, you dance. If you hear a mass, you take communion. It is the power of music.. To carry on directly to the mental state of the composer. The listener has no choice. It is like hypnotism. - From the movie Immortal Beloved|
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Theories of Dr. Manfred Clynes
Dr. Manfred Clynes, a researcher of neuroscience, was born in Vienna into a highly productive family, where he grew up to study music under great teachers like Pablo Casals and others. Albert Einstein once wrote after hearing him in concert, "Your art combines a clear understanding of the inner structure of the music with a rare spontaneity of expression..."
Dr. Clynes neuroscience work ranges from sensory stimulation experiments to the invention of a system for measuring the brains response to a particular stimuli and beyond. He found that people's brains produce remarkably similar patterns when exposed to a specific combinations of sound and color.
Biologic Law of Unidirectional Rate Sensitivity
Dr. Clynes formulated the Law of Unidirectional Rate Sensitivity or URS after he learned from his work that neurophysiolocially, our senses are much more sensitive to changes than to a static condition. Our biology takes much more notice of changing factors than it does to a static situation. This explains why you are more sensitive to a smell when you first encounter it, like when first walk into a fragrant room, but barely notice it an hour later.
Dr. Clynes also discovered an interesting difference between the various senses. With most of the senses, there is an opposing effect, where with one part you notice increases, and with another you notice decreases. For example, with light, you strongly detect both increases in light and increasing darkness. However, the sense of smell is unique. In that case we only have the neurons to detect an increase in a certain smell, but we do not easily detect the subsequent "removal" of that smell.
Sentics: The scientific study of emotions
Dr. Clyne also discovered that when people have emotional experience, their nervous system always responds in a characteristic way which is measurable with another of his inventions, a finger pressure sensor called the sentograph. This has led to a new area of study, the study of Sentics which has shown that people from all walks of life express emotions in a very similar way.
His work led him discover the critical aspects of sound and music when he started researching the stentograph's results of people listening to music. This lead the the discovery that great classical music leads to certain predictable responses. In fact, the various interpretations of the music had consistent results, allowing Dr. Clynes to discover critical aspects of creating emotional music.
Concept of Hierarchic Pulse
He, and his colleagues discovered that each composer of classical music has a unique "Pulse," or note duration and loudness. The specific note duration and amplitude or "Pulse" is known as the microstructure of the music. The composer has the complex job of incorporating their particular microstructure into their work.
Variations of a few percent of the loudness, or as little as one microsecond in timing are discernable. Through his research, he has been able to identify the pulse, or microstructure of various popular composers.
Predictive Tone Sculpting
Dr. Clynes has discovered a way to incorporate the next note into the note currently being played. By changing the "shape" of a note depending on the next note that follows it adds a degree of smoothness to the composition, a continuation of a musician's performance.
Specifically, Dr. Clynes discovered that the current note will be skewed forward if the next note is higher in pitch or frequency, and skewed backward if lower. The degree of skew of the sound depends on the "distance" to the next note in terms of time and pitch.
This shaping allows the listener to have some warning of the note to follow, which, in part, explains the additional smoothness to the composition.
Vibrato is the part of a musicians playing that adds very fast fluctuations in the pitch and amplitude of each note. Dr. Clynes discovered that vibrato, or these vibrations that occur from 5 to 8 times a second is very important in adding emotional meaning to a musical piece.
Software called SuperConductor that allows you to play with these parameters on various pieces of popular classical music is available for free on his website here.
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