Music and sound

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Music and sound

Take a look at these schematic faces: Just a few simple changes to the mouth and eyebrows can create faces depicting a wide array of emotions. Face 1, for example, is clearly quite happy, and face 12 is sad. Face 7 is obviously angry. But what about face 4? Embarrassed? Happy but sleepy? Perhaps your…

There are lots of people who, with training, can identify musical notes when they know the starting point — when they hear a song starting with “C,” they can name the rest of the notes in the song. But much rarer is the ability to identify musical notes without any context. This is what people…

When Greta earned her Ph.D. 13 years ago, Jim was two and a half years old, and Nora was just 10 months old. Jim knew a few words, and Nora couldn’t talk at all. You might think a baby as young as Nora wouldn’t have an appreciation for music or dance. If you can’t walk,…

Recently I attended a concert featuring the premier of an up-and-coming composer’s work. She gave a brief talk before her piece was played, during which she explained the complex symbology of her work. The musical notes weren’t just noises; they were intended to convey a meaning above and beyond a mere sequence of sounds. But…

One of the unanswered questions in Krista Hyde and Isabelle Peretz’s research on amusia (“tone-deafness”) is why amusics frequently say they are unable to clap to the rhythm of a song, or to dance well. In Hyde and Peretz’s study, amusics could detect rhythm changes as well as normal individuals, even while being unable to…

More on “tone-deafness”

There was some doubt as to whether the “tone-deafness” test I linked to Monday really tests for amusia. The defining trait of amusia is the inability to discern the difference between different musical pitches. So here’s a test that might generate a more clear-cut result. The following track plays five sequences of five notes. In…

Take a look at this video of a professional drummer playing the conga: It’s easy to see that the sound coming from the drum is perfectly synchronized with the motion of the drummer’s hands. Or is it? When a sound enters your ear, it takes less than 1 millisecond for the signal to be transported…

There’s nothing cooler for a perception researcher (or writer) than a new visual illusion. When I learned about this one, I spent half the day Thursday trying to recreate it, but I couldn’t get it to work. Finally, in five minutes on Friday morning, I think I figured it out. (Update: Actually, as it turned…

In 2001, Mark Orr and Stellan Ohlsson found that experts preferred more complex bluegrass music compared to non-experts, but there was no difference in preferences with jazz music. The model they were using to describe music preferences did not appear to describe all types of music. But what if the problem wasn’t the model, but…

A week ago Friday we conducted a little survey about musical preferences. Readers were asked to listen to three different clips, then say which music they preferred. We promised you we’d be back to let you know what the preferences were, and whether they said anything about how preferences are formed. Our survey was inspired…