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Adam Gopnik: Music To Your Ears

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Here is a particularly interesting article on the science of music and how our brain perceives music from sounds. The article itself discusses many different topics, but they're all highly interesting. I myself have nearly no background on the things he talks about, but they're quite interesting nonetheless.


I don't know if this is the right forum to post this in, but sound science seemed appropriate.



The New Yorker, Jan 28, 2013(Gopnik).pdf 5,006k .pdf file



I hope you appreciate it!

post #2 of 4

What a piece! I'm a long-time fan of Gopnick - I have a couple of his books - and this is him at his best. The strongest element in the piece is the synthesising of the two perspectives, the sound science and particular (social) acts of listening. On this forum it's easy to lose sight of that second aspect.


The bass player is also correct to say that music is overwhelmingly associated in most of history with dance, movement, sociability. But I'm darned if I'll consider myself aberrant in my listening habits - solitary, concentrating hard, listening to all of something at once. It's aberrant, historically speaking, to take a daily shower. I regard it as an achievement to have devised music that demands to be listened to with that degree of intensity. There's an unstated political agenda here, all too familiar in universities. The sociological people are trying to attach stigma to this practice because, y'know, it's like elitist (and male, and Western and other Bad Things). On the same logic we should look down on those who stand in front of oil paintings in galleries: keep moving along there.


Thank you again for posting this.

post #3 of 4
Thanks for posting this, read the first two paragraphs and came back here to thank you!
post #4 of 4

This article is a great complement to another wonderful read that I'll shout out here: Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music by Greg Milner



One topic they have in common is the way in which our supposed "march towards perfection" in audio is being turned upside down by the digital data concept "This much information is enough." Says who? How do you know? Audio promoters have been telling people for years that the sound their new gadget puts out is indistinguishable from reality - well, since our brains create the reality anyway, who's to say? Anyway this is a major theme of Milner's book and it is picked up in the Gopnik article by "the bass player," Jonathan Sterne. And a further "hurrah" to Gopnik for digging Ella's Decca Gershwin Songbook, a real highlight for me and much more to my taste than most of the Verve-era Ella.



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