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Science of music

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Cranking out a tune cements our social networks. Julie/Flickr

All together now – three evolutionary perks of singing

We’re enjoying the one time of year when protests of “I can’t sing!” are laid aside and we sing carols with others. For some this is a once-a-year special event; the rest of the year is left to the professionals…

VIDEO: Why some people just don’t like music

For many people, enjoying music results in noticeable physical reactions – sweaty palms or a shiver down the spine. Music can cause the release of dopamine in your body, which provides a feeling of immense…
‘I’m walkin’ on sunshine, whoooa oh! And don’t it feel good!' Daniele Zedda/Flickr (cropped)

Chills and thrills: why some people love music – and others don’t

Think of your favourite piece of music. Do you get shivers when the music swells or the chorus kicks in? Or are the opening few bars enough to make you feel tingly? Despite having no obvious survival value…
Music affects all of us – even in utero. Petar

The rhythm of life

Music psychologist and jazz pianist David Hargreaves of Roehampton University is probably the only professor to have opened the bill for Chuck Berry. But last week he beat even that. At a time when the…
What’s the best music for a slow stroll, or a pumping powerwalk? There are factors other than tempo to take into account. ejorpin

Music and walking speed – it’s not what you think

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak,” wrote the English poet William Congreve in 1697. These days, we tend to take music’s inherent charms for granted and…
Over the course of 200 years, music evolved into very distinct styles, each distinguished by melodic interval analysis. Mira (on the wall)

Stuck like a Baroque-n record? Music evolves in noteworthy ways

Think of your favourite piece of music. What aspects of its melody do you really like? Do you prefer a mix of fast and slow notes or an even tempo; do you like listening to low, bass-driven music more…
Musician Courtney Pine might not be able to operate in A&E but his work has some similarities to surgery. Flickr/Richard Kaby

Jazz musicians can teach surgeons how to improvise

What could music and surgery have in common? At first sight, not much. Operations aren’t done on stage in front of a large crowd - and nobody dies after a concert if someone plays a wrong note. As an amateur…
A study found tone deaf people find it harder to understand emotional undertones in speech.

Tone deaf people struggle to hear emotional subtext

Tone deaf people often fail to hear emotional messages such as sadness or annoyance in speech, relying instead on facial…
Music can create a vortex – and a coupling of cortexes. AlicePopkorn

Motion slickness: music moves makers and listeners alike

Music is an emotional business. But is it also a natural law, bound in with our bodies and ideas of motion we’re only beginning to understand? I am in the unique position of studying with both Professor…
Does music feel and talk like we do? John Mallon Iphoneography

While my guitar gently speaks: talking up the talk box

A fine musician complemented by a fine musical instrument can communicate a range of strong emotions. But even the best of these combinations cannot speak in the sense of transferring textual information…
“Physics permeates the language we use to describe music, and the concepts we use to understand it.” Ravages

Music and physics – the connections aren’t trivial

My ANU colleague John Rayner’s excellent recent article on the physics of music seemed to touch a nerve with the readership of The Conversation. Although beautifully framed by the personal and anecdotal…
Music is the language of love – and it exemplifies some principles of science. Roxanne Milward

This is a love song: the physics of music and the music of physics

My wife Theresa represents many things for me – in addition to being my partner, I see her as a 17cm-long quarter-wavelength resonator (which I hope you’ll understand and agree with by the end of this…
Roll up for the mathematical mystery tour. Lucy (嘉莉)

A Hard Day’s Night by numbers: The Beatles decoded

“TWANG! It’s been a …” There is perhaps no song as quintessentially Beatle-ish as A Hard Day’s Night - it just bubbles with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. And in my mind, there’s no other opening chord…
Nice sounds – but are you responding to the bass or your basal ganglia? TORIMBC

Beast international: does rock music rouse the animal within?

There’s no doubt rock music evokes excitement, but is there more to that excitement than guitar solos and head banging? Writing in the Telegraph recently, science correspondent Nick Collins remarked: “Rock…
Feel free to bust out some tunes, but you won’t fool the children of the evolution. Verano y mil tormentas

DarwinTunes: when you get that feeling it’s, uh, sexual hearing?

What transforms noise from album filler to dancefloor killer? Why do some tracks turn us on while others make us tune out? DarwinTunes, a computer program that employs the principles of natural selection…
Did music precede language for Homo sapiens? Spuz/Flickr

Evolution: please don’t stop the music

All human cultures and social groups that we know of respond to music and dance. The type of music may vary but the underlying, fundamental principles of making music are the same. Our recognition of…

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