Music and the Brain

The Interdisciplinary Society for Quantitative Research in Music and Medicine (ISQRMM) have rather handily posted videos of the keynote speech from their recent conference on YouTube.  Dr Mark Tramo talks on “Functional Brain Organization in Relation to Music Cognition”:

You can also view part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.

Research into music and health seems to be a rapidly growing field. I don’t know anything about ISQRMM, but I find their focus on understanding ‘the effects of music on the health of the human mind, body and soul’ a little troubling due to its insistence on Cartesian dualism. But perhaps I’m just reading too much into it.

Dancing to an Invisible Beat

Brandon LaBelle: Notes Toward a Sketch of a Sonic Body

In Notes Toward a Sketch of a Sonic Body, sound artist Brandon LaBelle explores the sound of dancing bodies. But there’s a catch: he’s taken away the music they were dancing to, leaving only the audible traces of their movements. The work is made of audio recordings of dancers listening to music on wireless headphones. Microphones placed around the room picked up the sound of the movements made by the dancers in response to what they were listening to. As a further layer of the work, LaBelle asked participants to explore these initial sounds through movement without the mediating layer of electronics.

 ‘The different approaches outline an energetic territory determined by listening. The recordings form acoustic identities, highlighting dance as a heated sonic. The Sonic Body is a work that aims for a total embodying of sound, as a sensual micro-event.’

In the exhibition the audio recordings were projected back into a space through wall-mounted loudspeakers, leaving the audience both to reconstruct this performance from its auditory archaeology and (perhaps inadvertently) to add a further layer of sound of their own as they walk around the space. What I really like about this work is that it throws bodily presence in front of musical presence, subverting the usual relationship between body and beat, but removes the visible presence that would normally mediate the relationship between body and audience. Instead it offers only faint traces of both movements and moments of listening.

A recording of the work is now available from Errant Bodies.

You can read a review of the CD from Neural.

Find out more from Image Music Text Gallery, which hosted the exhibition.

Read a  review of the exhibition by David Yu at Artslant.

[EVENT] Yvon Bonenfant: Beacons

[stolen from the LIVEART list]

“The Beacons extended voice/flashing light performance by Yvon Bonenfant, made with the support of EMPAC and many other partners, will be touring to seven cities in the UK from September 27 – Leeds, London, Bristol, Eastleigh, Exeter, Falmouth, Glasgow. Media samples, a description, and project info are at: 

“Beacons  is an emotional journey through voice and projections. The piece takes the audience right inside sounds, images, and narratives of love and longing, of wonder, and of reaching out to those we miss, in an audiovisual experience that is as special as it is unique. The astonishing range and sensuality of the voice of Yvon Bonenfant form the sonic core of the show. Alongside this, the engaging, enchanting video landscapes by video artist David Shearing – replete with flashing motorway works lights, antenna beacons, images of ocean buoys and lighthouses – take the audience deep inside a world of visual poetry that explores the ways we humans signal to one another.”

Dates are:

stage@leeds: 27 September 7.30pm
0113 343 8730

Rich Mix: 6 October 7.30pm
020 7613 7498

Arnolfini: 7 October 7.30pm
0117 917 2300

The Point, Eastleigh: 13 October 7.30pm
023 8065 2333

Exeter Phoenix: 18 October  8pm
01392 667080

The Performance Centre – University College Falmouth: 21 October 7:30 pm
01872 262466

Arches: 24 October 7.30pm
0141 565 1000

Body, Sound and Technology Bibliography

I have added a short bibliography of texts that may be useful for people beginning research on the body, music and technology. It’s by no means exhaustive, but is meant as a brief introduction to some of the theoretical work in this area. You can view it by clicking the link at the top of the page. The list only contains books at the moment; I’ll add journal articles and feature pieces as soon as I get time. Information about artists, works and other relevant blogs can be found on the links page. If there are any texts you feel should be added to the bibliography, then please email me or leave a comment. Happy reading!

[EVENT] Music, Sensory Ecologies, and the Body

Harvard University is hosting what sounds like a hugely exciting seminar series exploring issues of liveness, mediation, sensory approaches to music studies, and new media (pretty much all the things I’ve been writing about in my PhD thesis, hence my rabid enthusiasm). Upcoming talks will be given by Ingrid Monson and Jonathan Sterne. Previous talks covered topics as diverse as modernity in second empire Paris, volume and the listening experience, and Art Tatum’s postmortem performance (a paper given by Andrew Raffo Dewar , who spoke engagingly on the same topic at this year’s British Forum for Ethnomusicology conference during the session on the body and mediation chaired by yours truly).

More information about the seminar series is availble here.