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Science Says People Who Play Music Are Uniquely Intelligent (Especially Drummers!)

Science Says People Who Play Music Are Uniquely Intelligent (Especially Drummers!)

Listen up drummers — no, really, you are going to want to hear this. Science says that you have a unique form of intelligence that is lacking in non-musicians. Also, science might even indicate that you “beat” out your other musically inclined counterparts (get it? Beat out?).

This study from July 2012 sheds some light for us.

The Experiment

People listened to music that was computer generated and music that was made by a real drum beat. The music completed by the real drummer contained small inconsistencies that were more favorable to the listeners than the computer.

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Scientists wanted to see if a computer would be able to recreate the small differences made by humans using a mathematical equation. This would “humaninze” the beat.

In order to gather data, a drummer from Ghana was recorded in the 1950s. The scientists set a metronome and had the drummer play along with the beat of the metronome.

The Results

The results showed that the drummer would occasionally get off the beat by a very small amount.

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The test showed that if a given beat from the drummer was played slightly ahead of the metronome, the beats to come were also likely to be played early. The slight outage lasted for several minutes.

When I say slight deviation, I mean less than the time it takes for a dragonfly to flap its wings. That’s not very long.

What Does This Mean?

This means that the brain of a musician seems to recognize the deviation and carry that through in a pattern to the end of the piece. They will hold the pattern in a long range correlation instead of stopping and resetting to the metronome. The brain beats to its own drum, if you will — oh, come now. I had to.

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To put it simply, musicians’ brains are able to keep time without matching to the metronome. This shows an ability to separate this task and isolate the beat made by the person. They don’t need to stop and restart like those of us with no sense of rhythm. This ability to keep time and gently correct means that they have an intelligence that others don’t have.

LRC (Long Range Correlation)

The long range correlation is present in more complex rhythms as well, in singing, pop music, and classical music. These things created by hands, feet, or voice all use this deviation from rhythm. This means that there are small deviations in the music that occur through the music. This deviation actually attracts listeners in a way that scientists can recreate with computers. To repeat: scientists with computers are unable to replicate the music to be as pleasing as the musicians were able to.

What About People With No Rhythm?

Not surprisingly, the long range correlation that drummers and other musicians use to hook listeners is missing from people who can’t keep a beat. The rhythmic timing and memory is missing. This makes the accuracy of drummers and musicians a distant dream for those (like me!) with no rhythm.

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Scientists are looking to find the mathematical laws that musicians automatically have when they self regulate the beats.

What Does This Mean In Regards To Classical Musicians?

John Clarke analyzed fluctuations in classical music as well as other types of music. He found that the melody at the end of the piece was related to other parts of the piece. This humanizing way of composing the music draws in the listener, and it seems that listeners can tell when they are being duped by computerized beats. Other experts in the Physics Today article noted that pieces from 40 different composers were studied and all were found to include long range correlations.

What Can Computers Do To Humanize The Music?

There are features that artificially generate spaces in music, causing fluctuations from random number generators. These generators tell which beats to delay. As of now, the result is not pleasurable. The music sounds jerky and bumpy, therefore not creating the desired effect on the listener. As research continues and mathematical equations applied, they may be able to find a way. As for now, there’s still nothing like the real thing.

As the article says: To err is human. And that’s what makes our music beautiful.

Featured photo credit: Nejron Photo via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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