Music, in the Mind and as Social Experience
Learning Community Coordinator Stephen Reale '14
This learning community will take your experience of music beyond mere enjoyment to careful analysis of what music is, how we experience it, and how it is shaped by, and impacts our social world. Bringing together perspectives of two accomplished musicians and music scholars, the learning community will give students the opportunity to explore music in its live and recorded forms through listening, interacting with musicians, and performing. No prior musical knowledge or proficiency is required to participate in this learning community.
Learning Community Coordinator
Your learning community faculty will be assisted by a student "learning community coordinator." The LCC assists the faculty in the planning and coordination of out-of-classroom LC experiences, and works with the learning community students directly to explore the learning community themes.
Your LCC will be Stephen Reale '14. He's a senior working on a double major in music composition and neuroscience. His current plan is to go to medical school to pursue a career in medicine. He's originally from Boston, but has come to love the small, tight-knit community at Dickinson. He works at the Dickinson Writing Center, sings in several choirs, and runs the all-male a capella group, the Octals.
Music and The Mind
In the late 1990s, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker famously declared music to be nothing more than “auditory cheesecake” and thus, “biologically useless,” engendering a spirited defense by evolutionary psychologists of music’s unique role in human experience. Music psychology, seeded as a conglomeration of connected disciplines in the 1980s, has recently flourished as a bona fide field, bolstered by neuroscience and imaging technologies that can illuminate the brain as it negotiates both the sublime creations of human culture – like music – and the scourges that exploit our neural hardware (like pornography addiction).This seminar will begin with a primer on music acoustics and culminate in a collaborative live performance between class members and visiting professional musicians who will be on campus as part of Dickinson College’s Musical Artists in Residence*program. We will explore these and other topics within the following three pillars of music psychology:
Music Perception - What is the difference between music and noise? What is the effect of 24/7 access to digital media on the brain? How has the “Screen Invasion” affected audience attention? How do our social networks influence our music consumption?
Music Cognition - The “Mozart Effect” (the hype versus the science); Physiological Brain Differences in Musicians vs. Non-Musicians; The Music - Language Connection; Neuroethics: Music as a Weapon of Torture in Modern Warfare.
Music Performance - Innate Talent: Reality or Myth? The 10,000 Hour Practice Rule; Choking: Stress and Performance; Break A Leg! - and Other Mind Games; The Mind Behind Improvisation.
Professor: Lynn Helding, Music
Time: 11:30 MWF
Music, Mediated: How Recording Technology Transformed Music
Until the early 20th century, Western music-making required a musician with at least fundamental training and, usually, an instrument. Hearing a professional musical performance required the listener to be in a specific location at a specific time and for a limited duration. Audience members typically had some basic musical competence. Under these special conditions, listening demanded focused concentration. Until the advent of recording technology, music comprised just those unrepeatable, live events in imperfect settings by imperfect musicians for immediately responsive audiences. The composer’s ideas were immutable and indisputably his. (Women were almost entirely excluded, except as performing novelties.) Clearly, our relationship to music now is dramatically different. Recording technology has entirely transformed how we experience music, how frequently and where we may experience it. It has even transformed our perception of music and how we listen. Further, technology has transformed the status and role of music in society. This course explores those transformations and their repercussions—good and bad—for individuals, society, and the environment. Topics include primer units on music and acoustics, but the course does not require musical knowledge or proficiency.
Professor: Robert Pound, Music
Time: 11:30 MWF