Oli Freke

Tech House / Techno / House

Notes and Neurons - music & science

Here’s a fairly long, but very interesting, presentation about of how music and the brain works. Well worth a watch. Best bit is at 59 mins - Bobby McFerrin 'plays' the audience...


  • Music accesses ‘normal’ emotions, but also deeper ones that aren’t accessed in other ways, perhaps can be considered ‘primordial’.
  • Almost all cultures through time and geography used the octave and fifth. The other intervals can vary.
  • There is some evidence that spoken language reflects the pitches of music. A descending minor third is found in sad speech, a rising minor second found in angry speech. Try saying ‘OK’ using those pitches.
  • Further – this was only really found in negative speech; happy speech didn’t tend to have a strong pitched content.
  • There is a scintillating part at 59mins where Bobby McFerrin ‘plays’ the audience. Leads us to consider how our brains anticipate next notes in a melodic sequence. If you watch nothing else of this, watch this 2 min sequence.
  • Commenting on the above, Bobby McG says it proves the audience ‘knows’ the pentatonic scale, but I wonder if other scales could be primed with different notes, such as a major scale, or even minor.
  • There is a connection between learning music at an early age with higher intellectual performance when older. (OBVIOUSLY!