Music affects the brain in these 3 fascinating ways.

How does music affect the brain?

We know that listening to our favourite (or least favorite!) music affects the brain. But, have you ever wondered how music affects the brain? It certainly has the power to evoke a wide range of emotions and can have a profound impact on our mood and well-being.

 It has been found that music activates more parts of the brain than any other known stimulus.

http://chordsforacause.org/410-2/

The relationship between music and the human brain is under intense scrutiny and is subject to many ongoing studies. Although there is still much to learn, so far we know that:

  • Stimulates several areas of the brain.
  • Activates the brain’s “reward centers”, including dopamine pathways.
  • Improves cognitive function and may help patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and depression.
how music affects the brain

Music affects the brain by…

Stimulating several areas.

Studies have shown that listening to music can stimulate several brain areas, including those responsible for processing emotions, memory, and movement.

When we listen to music, our brains come alive with activity. Numerous studies have shown that listening to music stimulates various regions of the brain. One such region is the auditory cortex, which processes and interprets sound. This area of the brain is responsible for recognizing different musical elements such as pitch, rhythm, and melody.

Furthermore, listening to music activates the limbic system, which is associated with emotions and memory. This can explain why certain songs can evoke strong emotional responses or trigger memories from the past. The limbic system comprises the amygdala, the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the basal ganglia, and the cingulate gyrus.

Enhancing the release of dopamine.

Some music can activate the reward centers in the brain, leading to feelings of pleasure and releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

The nucleus accumbens is responsible for releasing dopamine. This neurotransmitter is associated with pleasure and is released when we experience something enjoyable, such as listening to our favorite song.

Helping with learning and thinking

Another area that is stimulated by music is the prefrontal cortex. This region is involved in higher cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and problem-solving. Music has been shown to improve focus and concentration, which may be attributed to the activation of the prefrontal cortex.

One 1991 study suggested that listening to classical music while studying or performing mental tasks can improve spatial task performance. However, despite causing a big splash, and coining the term “The Mozart Effect”, the results were not as reliable as they seemed at first.

Neuromusic

I am studying for a Master’s in Neuromusic. Neuromusic is the intersectional study of neuroscience, psychology and music. I am currently focused on my thesis, whose working title is “Binaural Beats and the Breathing Brain”. This series of posts will serve to align my thoughts and support my studies. Eventually, these posts will form part of my written thesis.

I am a primarily self-taught songwriter, producer, and DJ. The formal study of how music affects the brain represents a very important step in my personal and professional evolution. So, if you are interested in learning alongside me, and maybe encouraging me, please bookmark this page and check in regularly.

Tune in and feel the flow

Overall, listening to music engages multiple areas of the brain, including the auditory cortex, prefrontal cortex, limbic system, and the reward system. Music has a significant effect on our brains, showing that it is a powerful tool for our emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being.

So next time you’re feeling down or in need of a mental boost, consider turning on some music and let your brain reap the benefits.

Neuroscience of Loving Music: fascinating 8-min podcast

Neuroscience of Loving Music: Refrains in the Brain

In this 8-minute BigThink podcast, “The Neuroscience of Loving Music”, Michael Spitzer, Professor of Music at Liverpool University, walks us through the neuroscience of loving music.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about music as medicine, I am studying for a Master’s degree in Neuromusic. If you like this kind of content, please subscribe to my blog. I will be posting about this regularly.

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The brain, muscular exertion, and sound

Spitzer begins by describing how the pulse of our steps rhythmically conditions humans. He says birdsong is as jerky as a bird’s movements as they fly through the air. Whalesong is as smooth as the whale’s movement through the water.

Humans walk on land, and the meters or rhythms that we are surrounded by have conditioned our brains, in musical terms. Music leads us on a “journey”, he says.

The neuroscience of loving music.

The neuroscience of loving music is based on the link between sound and motion. This is due to connections in the brain between the motor regions of the brain and the regions controlling hearing. The deeper into the brain you go says Spitzer, the more universal the connections are.

The brain stem responds to reflexes in sound, and percussive elements, for example. The basal ganglia respond to pleasure, so, the feeling of like or dislike that you get from listening to sounds or music. Emotions arise from the amygdala, while the neocortex processes patterns and complexities (think chords, harmony, etc).

Music is more than relaxation or entertainment

Music and social cohesion

Spitzer touches on one of my favorite topics: loneliness and the effect of loneliness on our mental health. On my other blog, Rose Tint Your Life, I posted about the results of a 20-year study on the importance of social relationships.

Interestingly, he says that listening to music is not relaxing in and of itself. In fact, listening to music is very active. I agree.

“Music can bring people together…Music lowers stress, makes you happy, helps us to recall memories, and helps us to express our deepest sentiments in a way that words cannot.”

Michael Spitzer, Professor of Music, Liverpool University

Meditation Music

Looped music is incredibly repetitive and actually brings about feelings of irritation. I have long been aware of this. In our weekly seminar last Thursday, some of my fellow Master’s students mentioned how frustrating it is to listen to looped meditation music. As musicians, we are always following the timbres, meters, and motifs of music.

As a yoga and meditation teacher, I have tried streaming services for background music. All have failed, mainly because of the short, looped segments. Hence, the project that I am currently working on, MindSet Beats. Stay tuned!

Mimesis – mirroring in the brain

The science of music emotion is a world unto itself. Emotion isn’t just feeling. Emotion has an adaptive role. When we listen to music, when the music moves us, we mirror the sentiments of the sound and also those of the composer. Joy, anger, sadness, and fear can all be experienced by listening to music. Here, multiplatinum records producer and Berklee Professor, Susan Rogers, talks about the intersection of music psychology, psychoacoustics, the producer/engineer鈥檚 perspective, and the audience鈥檚.

Frisson – the chills

Music can make out hairs stand up on end. This is known as frisson. I can it “The Feels”. I love that he says that “music is violence without the danger”. All the feelings, no physical harm. As Bob Marley said in Trenchtown Rock “one good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain”.

Conclusion

Spitzer finishes the podcast “The Neuroscience of Loving Music” by saying that music is “an umbilical cord back to Mother Nature“. What a lovely thing to say! Happy Sunday, folks!

Brand-new mixes Spring 2023: bootlegs, edits, and other strange fruit

Nothing like two brand-new mixes to get March marching

Hop on over to my Mixcloud to have a bit of a boogie. There is a downtempo mix and an uptempo mix. Both are total improvisations. I was preparing for my live set on Saturday afternoon and needed to practice mixing some new tunes. They are honest sets, recorded in my home studio.

PS: I find a lot of deejay edits and bootlegs on Soundcloud, so if you like this kind of music, get digging!

Sundowner sets in Altea

If you like what you hear here and want to catch me playing live, come on down to Bar l’Ancora (Carrer Pla d’Albes, Altea, near the Consum in the port area). I will be there every weekend.

Book me!!

If you REALLY like what you hear and want to book me for your party or bar, just drop me a line in my contact form and we’ll talk. You may want to check out my djRVIR page, just for fun.

March into March 馃惥

The first mix is a downtempo, edit-heavy, groovy slow burn. My special magic is starting slow and moving the groove up a notch so slowly and smoothly that hardly anybody notices. The art of the DJ is reading the crowd. The DJ is a host, not a star. Music stirs social interaction at just the right pace. This brand-new mix has some Caribou, and Leonard Cohen, so we’re getting a little bit Canadian over here (I can’t resist, I always play the Canadian game of “did you know they’re not American..?) There is some other strange fruit here, so, go have a listen on my Mixcloud profile and let me know if you like it!

DJ RVIR brand-new mixes downtempo preparation sundowners mix.

Spring into Spring 馃尡

DJ RVIR's brand-new mixes include deejay edits, bootlegs, and fine, silky beats.
Now on Mixcloud!

The second of my brand-new mixes is a danceable uptempo gem. I love French music. I really think that nobody does modern, filtered, house and disco like the French. I start and finish this set with French artists. First off, the veteran French singer V茅ronique Sanson. And taking us marching into the night, the fabulous Clara Luciani. Check it out on my Mixcloud profile.

That’s all for now…

In my long-ago youth, we would have called them a mix tape. I think that Americans still do. I made so many mix-tapes for my friends. Now, I am a little more sophisticated and actually blend the songs into each other, into a sweet and spicy continuous mix.

Is it easier than sitting on the play-record buttons on my cassette recorder? Not sure. Digital mixing requires a lot of concentration, especially with bootlegs and remixes of older songs. the drums are not always quantized, and you have to jiggle around to make them fit. But hey! That’s the art of djing! Have a fab day and I truly hope that you enjoy these two brand-new mixes, hot off the press!

Music Medicine: An exciting modality 4 modern times!

Music Medicine

Music Medicine

More and more investigation is underway to determine just how important a role sound and music may play in future models of health care and disease management. It’s a very exciting time for this branch of holistic therapeutics! This is why I have decided to study Neuromusic. I started my Master’s on Friday!

The expanding scope of music in healthcare was the topic of a recent issue of MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute journal “Healthcare”. The Special Edition Editor was Dr. Lee Bartel, a professor at the University of Toronto. After reading two articles, I found the TED talk that appears above.

Music medicine vs. Music therapy

Music medicine and music therapy are not the same things, but they are closely related. Music medicine can use sound vibrations that are not necessarily musical. Music therapy can also use toning and vibration, but it’s certainly more about musicality and the psychological attachments that a patient may have toward certain styles or pieces of music.-

Healing yourself with sound certainly appeals. Sound is all around us, all the time. Those who live or work in cities may be bombarded by noise, often to their detriment. Traffic noise slows children’s memory development, a 2022 study found.

Neuromusic

Neuromusic is about sound and music as healing modalities. I have only just started my studies, but already I can tell that my long years of self-directed study will pay off. The first module talks about frequencies and harmonics, signals, and all those good things that music producers love to delve into.

My hopes for the course

I hope to use the course to finish and commercialize the project I have been working on for the past year. I earn my living as a Yoga teacher, bodyworker, and MindSet coach. I am currently working very hard on some special guided meditations that are based on cutting-edge knowledge about how different frequencies affect the mind and body. I am particularly interested in the use of music medicine and psychedelics. So, let’s see how that all goes. Exciting times!

S煤per Taller de Voz y Respiraci贸n – 26 Nov ’22

Respira, canta, graba

Taller de voz y respiraci贸n con improvisaci贸n y grabaci贸n.  Altea, Nov 26, 2022
Cartel del taller de voz y respiraci贸n

Tabla de contenidos

驴Qu茅 haces el s谩bado 26 de noviembre?

Reserva la fecha, porque te va a encantar! 驴Quieres cantar? 驴Quieres gozar de la m煤sica? 驴Quieres liberar la voz y sentirte artista? 驴Quieres explorar tu creatividad y sanar tu sistema respiratorio a la vez? Tengo el taller para ti!

El pr贸ximo s谩bado 26 noviembre vamos a juntarnos en un entorno natural a pocos minutos del precioso pueblo de Altea. Ah铆, bajos los pinos, con el sol suave del oto帽o, vamos a respira el aire puro de la costa alicantina. Con ejercicios de la respiraci贸n del yoga y del canto, iremos liberando la voz y prepar谩ndonos para montar una peque帽a improvisaci贸n vocal. Despu茅s de una pausa y una meditaci贸n en silencio, iremos al estudio de grabaci贸n para grabar nuestra canci贸n. 隆Suena guay, no?!

Respiraci贸n consciente : Pranayama

En qu茅 consiste la respiraci贸n consciente?

La respiraci贸n consciente es simplemente una forma de prestar atenci贸n a nuestra respiraci贸n. Se considera que la respiraci贸n forma un puente entre el cuerpo y la mente. El pranayama tiene como prop贸sito cruzar este puente con intenci贸n para llegar a unir nuestro cuerpo con nuestra mente.

Todo eso suena muy esot茅rico, lo s茅. Hay que tener en cuenta que los fines de la pr谩ctica del yoga son muy elevados. Tienen que ver con la liberaci贸n del esp铆ritu y cosas as铆. Es todo muy noble, pero a veces no queremos llegar tan lejos. Es este taller, ponemos el list贸n m谩s accesible. Aqu铆, tan solo pretendemos observar nuestra respiraci贸n, utilizar t茅cnicas de ritmos respiratorios y retenciones (apneas) para modificarla y probar un poco de resistencia al di贸xido de carbono (CO2). Todo eso nos preparar谩 para los ejercicios vocales.

Calentar la voz

C贸mo me puedo preparar para cantar mejor?

La voz es un instrumento que necesita sus cuidados y sus calentamientos. Es f谩cil concluir que “no podemos cantar” si carecemos de las herramientas necesarias para preparar los tejidos de la garganta y la boca para cantar. En realidad, si puedes hablar, puedes cantar. Es cierto que no todos somos Whitney Houston, pero cada persona tiene su rango (d贸nde est谩s m谩s c贸modo en la escala musical) y su timbre (las matices de la voz, lo que la hace 煤nica). A trav茅s de ejercicios sencillos, iremos calentando nuestras voces.

Improvisaci贸n

Cantar sin partitura? Qu茅 hago…?

taller voz y respiraci贸n - la improvisaci贸n!

隆Dejemos surgir lo que surja! Dependiendo de quienes sean los integrantes del taller, qu茅 rangos tienen, y qu茅 onda hay, iremos improvisando un peque帽o tema. No tiene que ser muy largo, pero buscaremos la musicalidad dentro de la improvisaci贸n. Dejaremos fluir la onda creativa, quiz谩s creando un coro, quiz谩s dividi茅ndonos en diferentes sub-grupos, quiz谩s permitiendo un canto y una respuesta, quiz谩s utilizando la voz como instrumento en forma “scat”…qui茅n sabe? Escucharemos y dejaremos que nos escuchen. Co-crearemos un peque帽o obra que, a continuaci贸n, iremos grabando en el estudio.

Meditaci贸n en silencio

El silencio y el sonido son opuestos y complementarios

Mientras se prepara el estudio, el grupo tomara un descanso. Se puede sentarse en postura de meditaci贸n, se puede usar el aseo, se puede tomar en t茅, pero todo en silencio. El trabajo del silencio es imprescindible para quien quiere cantar desde su interior. Tan solo a trav茅s del silencio y la escucha logramos percibir todas las matices de nuestra voz.

Grabaci贸n en estudio

Iremos al estudio de grabaci贸n para hacer unas tomas de voz con el micr贸fono y el programa de edici贸n musical, Ableton Live. No te asustes, la parte t茅cnica estar谩 preparada para ti. Tan solo tendr谩s de acercarte al micr贸fono y cantar tu parte.

隆Ojo! Si quieres estar en el estudio mientras graban los dem谩s, se puede, pero siempre en silencio. Si sientas la necesidad de hablar, habr谩 sitio afuera. Evitaremos entrar y salir mientras estamos grabando, para no perder tiempo y para no distraer a los dem谩s. Al cabo unos 90 minutos, lo que hay, hay. Posteriormente, har茅 un poco de edici贸n y cada integrante quedar谩 con una copia de la canci贸n.

Como me apunto??

Suena genial! Como me apunto?

Para guardar tu plaza, hay que hacer un Bizum de 20鈧 al tel茅fono 667997532 (Rachel Rose) indicando tu nombre y tel茅fono. El resto puedes pagar en el mismo d铆a. Si decides por cualquier motivo no acudir al taller, guardar茅 tu aportaci贸n para las pr贸ximas fechas. Si lo tienes claro que vendr谩s, puedes ingresar el importe total (35鈧), claro.

Si te has quedado con alguna duda, m谩ndame un Whatsapp al mismo tel茅fono y programaremos una llamada. Soy terapeuta y no atiendo al tel茅fono cuando estoy trabajando, por lo cual es posible que llamadas sin programar no estar谩n atendidas en el momento.

Una vez que te das de alta, te dar茅 las indicaciones para llegar y la ubicaci贸n.

Que tengo que traer?

Una manta, un coj铆n, agua, un cuaderno y un boli. Y, claro, ganas de pasarlo bien con gente molona! 馃ぉ馃コ

Horario del Taller:

  • 10:00 – 10:30 Llegada
  • 10:30 – 10:45 Introducci贸n y presentaci贸n de los integrantes
  • 10:45 – 11:30 Pranayama y ejercicios vocales
  • 11:15 – 11:45 Improvisaci贸n
  • 11:45 – 12:00 Meditaci贸n en silencio
  • 12:00 – 13:30 Grabaci贸n en estudio con Ableton Live (mientras que unos est谩n grabando, los dem谩s pueden seguir ensayando sus partes)

Pr贸ximas fechas

El taller se impartir谩 en ingl茅s el s谩bado 28 de enero y en espa帽ol el s谩bado 25 de febrero. The workshop will be presented in English on 28th January and again in Spanish on 25th February.

Figma plug-in 4 UX: html.to.design – Fabulous!

Table of Contents

html.to.design Figma plug-in
  1. html.to.design
  2. Installation
  3. Use
  4. Conclusion

Figma plug-in

html.to.design is a new plugin for Figma that looks to be an amazing ally to any UX designer.

I decided to give it a go and see how it can help workflow and creativity. Keep reading to see what I found…

html.to.design

Honestly, I didn’t even know that Figma plug-ins exist! I am a bit of a newbie and am still getting my head around Figma. It does seem like a very cool tool, and it’s certainly an industry standard for UX designers. Just a quick search on Indeed returns more than 1000 UX designer jobs that require Figma!

I admit that I find browser-based apps very click-heavy. As an old school Internet user, and someone quite used to the UNIX shell, I tend to use key commands more than clicks. Browser based apps don’t always allow key commands as the command might pass to the browser or system, rather than the app. So, I am moving with the times and adapting to browser based apps.

Installation

I had to log into Figma first. Then I went back to the plug-in page and clicked on the link. This opened a blank design. I navigated to the left menu and found the plug-ins. Lo and behold, there was html.to.design.

I tried to import the very page on which I had found the plug-in, https://www.figma.com/community/plugin/1159123024924461424/html.to.design . As this page is behind a log-in, I was not able to import it into the Figma plug-in. In the app dialogue box, they write:

“Need to import a private page behind a log-in? Get notified when this feature is available”

I signed up to receive updates in the hopes that this might also serve to trigger my memory later on! I notice that my mature brain is good at long-term memory and pattern perception, but my short term memory, which used to be absolutely razor-sharp (my mother used to say “you have a mind like a steel trap”), is not as reliable as it used to be.

How does html.to.design work?

I imported my own page and immediately the whole design and structure showed up. I played around a bit and made a prototype which you can view here.

Conclusion

This Figma plug-in is on fire! I love anything that makes life easier! One of the tricks they teach to aspiring UX designers is to UX the page of a company that you’d like to work for and send it to them when you apply for work. I think that this plug-in could be a real ally for UX designers new and seasoned.

Home Studio Diagram for 2022

My home studio

I love making electronic music! But, man does it get complex very quickly.

I could not for the life of me get the bass sounds that I wanted. I found this crazy little hardware synthesizer, the Waldorf Rocket, that is particularly good for bass sounds.

As the Rocket does not have a keyboard, you have to hook it up to something else in order to play it. It only generates the sounds. I called my AKAI MiniAK into action as a MIDI controller and presto!…sounds!

Here is my studio setup as of right now. Well, no, over there on the bottom right, I diagrammed the Traktor cabled to the Yamaha MG06 mixer. In the end, I am not using the Yamaha. Everything for production goes via the Audiofuse. When I dj, I monitor on my little old Yamaha Stagepas 300. The Stagepas has passive speakers, so I have to use the built-in mixing desk and not the MG06. Guess I should update the home studio diagram…

home studio set up

Home

In case you arrived straight onto this page, please check out my home page and check out some of the other cool stuff I get up to.

Superior Singing Method – Super 8-week singing course!

Would you like to sing better?

The voice has been one of my main tools for going on twenty years now. Since I found the Superior Singing Method, I am finally using specific tools to make my voice more stable, more robust and more reliable.

I always loved to sing. But, I was shy, and very soft-spoken. When I was about 23 years old, I had a major realisation: Whenever I tried to make my voice more emphatic, I ended up sounding angry. Also, if I was stressed, I would notice a whirring or ringing in my ears.

This is major, people! In order to move in this world, you have to make yourself heard and also listen to others.

A little music a lot of the time

My steps into music have been small but steady. Although I picked up the bass and played in an Ottawa band called PLANK, I knew that I didn’t want to be a professional musician (even if I had the talent snort!) Having watched a few friends “make it”, I saw the entertainment business as a stressful, uncertain place where drug and alcohol misuse was rife and from which artists could be spit out, broke and broken, at any time. No, I knew myself even then that I do NOT have the character for that sort of thing. I am way too sensitive. I used my brains, studied at Uni, kept my nose to the grindstone…but still managed a massive social life and huge enjoyment of music.

When I was in London, I got into electronic music, specifically hard house and late-90’s trance. I helped out on two promotions (Trinity at the Chunnel Club and Fahrenhite at The Soundshaft behind Heaven) doing the VIP list, taking people’s cash, helping the dj’s get into a packed club at 4AM…it was super fun, I didn’t sleep a Saturday night in over a year.

Singing and strumming

When I decided to stop all that nonsense, (haha), I bought an acoustic guitar and started doing open mics. My first forays into recording were weird, to say the least. Hearing your own voice recorded is extremely strange and basically incredibly HUMBLING. You realise that you don’t sound that good at all. OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH SHIT. How I wish that I had found the Superior Singing Method back then!

When I was in NYC in about 2001, I got this tattoo on my finger. Like that string you tie around your finger to remind you of something? This was to remind me to heal my voice.

Well, I kept bumbling along. During my yoga teacher training, I studied and practised mantra. I sought a singing teacher. But, it’s hard to find a singing teacher when you’re no longer in a place like London where modern music is celebrated.

Finally, I found the Superior Singing Method. From the first week I started to see improvements. This course is amazing. It is not expensive, you can do it from home at a convenient time and the teacher, Aaron Anastasi, is a great motivator. (He is also a life coach).

Invest in your voice, invest in yourself

A calm, beautiful, stable voice is a gift to yourself and to others. Here is my speaking voice. I also do some voiceover work 馃槈

Lo-fi Figma Prototype

As I carry on studying UX, I am proud to have made my first Lo-fi Figma Prototype! Here is the link:

https://www.figma.com/file/29fmuGt6ymNFHWqfWCm9IJ/Coffee-House-Wireframe?node-id=0%3A1

The process from ideation to prototyping is pretty straightforward, but is surprisingly long in execution, especially when you’re new to it. The Coffee House project is our common project on the course, and we use it for every assignment before proceeding to our portfolio project. My portfolio project, as I have said before, is to create a service review app for a fitness trainer. The two prompts are quite different, and the user journeys are different, but the user flows are fairly similar, and there are frames that can even be recycled.

User Flows

A paper wireframe that I used for my lo-fi Figma prototype.

After creating paper wireframes and then digital wireframes, we created paper user flows and the digital user flows. Over the on the right is one of the paper wireframes that I made, which I later digitalised on Figma. I like the design iteration as it gives me lots of chanced to refine my ideas. In fact, when I started the prototype, I had only drawn five paper wireframes. The final lo-fi Figma prototype has 11 frames!

Yoast SEO is telling me that the 190 words I have just written is too little, and that I need to bump it up to 300 words. I guess that I could, but I prefer to just go ahead and post this, and take my dogs out for a walk before evening falls. I have been working hard, and studying hard, and I would like a little time off. So, thanks Yoast, but not today. 馃槢