Posts Tagged ‘Wilson Pickett’

Up late last night working on music playlists for the Canoe Brewpub and I experienced a couple musical moments that are rooted in science.

I read a book (last summer maybe?) called This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin. The book is full of neat facts and research and explanations.  A couple things that got my brain turning last night.

I love listening to music loud.  I always have… likely will till my ears stop… then the theatre of mind will be in Dolby Surround all the time as I wait to die.  I remember as a kid jamming out my R.E.M. and Alice in Chains records before bed, cranked on the discmen.  A car to me, is a stereo that allows me to also travel faster than bus.  The bus is a wonderful machine that lets me focus solely on my iPod without all the “driving” getting in the way.  My late teens and twenties were spend at shows.  Loud shows were best.

When I came to the Zone (and still to this day) the monitors are at full bore.  When I did evenings, I’d walk home to Fernwood and get home around 1:30AM.  The evening show used to be live to 1AM back then.  I’d smoke pot, lay on my floor and crank music.  Even soft music had to be loud and with headphones on.  I’d lay on the floor or the couch, stare up and listen.

Coral, god bless her, does not like loud music.

What’s going on?  Science do you know?  You don’t?  SWA?

“A lot of people really like loud music. Concertgoers talk about a special state of consciousness, a sense of thrills and excitement, when the music is really loud – over 115 dB ( a typical rock concert). We don’t yet know why this is so.  Part of the reason may be related to the fact that loud music saturates the auditory system, causing neurons to fire at their maximum rate.  When many, many neurons are maximally firing, this could cause an emergent property, a brain state qualitatively different from when they are firing at normal rates.  Still, some people like loud music, and some people don’t.” (pg. 71 – This Is Your Brain on Music)

So there I am at, at 1AM last night, music cranked.  Its like my drugs man.

As I am sitting there at my computer at some odd hour, Wilson Picket’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” comes on.  Immediately I think about the 1988 comedy The Great Outdoors.  Its a film I watched over a dozen times as a young snot noser in Coquitlam.  The song is featured in a fairly prominent way and whenever I hear the song, I think of the film.  Music has a huge ability to trigger memories.

“According to the multiple-trace memory models, every experience is potentially encoded in memory.  Not in a particular place in the brain, because the brain is not like a warehouse; rather, memories are encoded in groups of neurons that, when set to proper values and configured in a particular way, will cause a memory to be retrieved and replayed in the theatre of our minds.  The barrier to being able to recall everything we might want is not that it wasn’t “stored” in memory, then; rather, the problem is finding the right cue to access the memory and properly configure our neural circuits. (…) In theory, if we only had the right cues, we could access any past experience.” (pg. 165 This Is Your Brain on Music)

Its why when I hear Harry Chapin I think of my Dad.  not because he is the “father character” from the “Cat’s in the Cradle,” but because I fondly remember the time we were driving through California listening to the record late one night many years ago.  When I hear the song (or any from the album we had punched up that night), the neurons take me to California with my old man.

Go with yourself.

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