Music and Mentality

4 April 2015
A paper which studies how the organization and utility of our mind affects our experience of music.

This essay begins with an introduction to the relationship between the mind and music. Both concepts are highly complex and awe inspiring. They are similarly very difficult to measure because of their complexity and when they merge and overlap, they magically bridge the gap between mind and body. An example explored is how music cannot only feed the soul, but also heal the physical body. Chapter two explores the more physical relationship between music the brain as a genetically built, evolutionarily selected for machine and the utility of music as an input. The conclusion returns to the magical interaction between mind and music through a discussion of how a Chopin Etude can help us better understand how we process visual and auditory input as musicians and listeners.
“The physical human brain and its intimately related partner the metaphysical mind is complex enough that we may study how it works in several ways. Directly we can take physical measurements of the brain using positron emission topography (PET) as someone takes in visual stimulus. These become even more valuable when we can compare the physical measurements that result under different circumstances such as comparing PET scans from the actual looking at a score of Handel’s Messiah and visualizing the same score in your mind’s eye. Indirectly we can measure the brain’s activity by observation and interpretation of behavior and cognition. Cognition studies require our understanding of the mind as this aspect of the physical brain that can be measured outside of the physical world. These studies are less concrete than physical measurements because they are not directly dealing with the physical world that we usually assume to be a reflection of the truth about the world (lower case t). However, less concrete means the data is more malleable and allows scientists and philosophers to say a lot more. This is more satisfying for us because the indirect means in this case allow us to use our brains more. It is also true that some of the most ambitious research offers data that combines several if not all of the components we can study. With this in mind it is therefore important to represent and reflect on the studies of all these in their relationship to how we understand and experience music. ”
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