Music and other ramblings

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The last couple of weeks have been busy, a little stressful but at the same time really productive and enjoyable – it is surprisingly good to be getting back into work and finally getting back on top of things after our recent holiday.

Last weekend we went to watch the Lions (AFL) at the Gabba.  I like mentioning sport on the blog because in reality, I don’t follow any sport, but simply by mentioning that I went to the football gives the impression that I’m a die-hard fan.  To be completely honest with you, I struggle to understand what’s going on half the time, but always ensure that I “woo”, “ahh”, “ooh” and “boo” when everyone else in the crowd does, so as to get the most out of the live sporting experience.

Something that I am a lot more interested in (and I like to think I understand some of the rules of… or at least more rules than I know about any sport) is music.  As a child I learnt how to play the keyboard / organ and in my teenage years learnt the basics of the guitar… but I haven’t played either in years and to be honest I didn’t really learn how to read music properly as I’d often cheat by playing by ear and memorising the keystrokes that my teachers would do.

Ok… so my music abilities are fairly crap, but that has never dampened my interest.  While on holidays Kristy saw a book called “This is your brain on music” by Daniel Levitin and suggested I have a look at it.  Now I don’t read books very often.  I read a lot of blogs and other online articles, but I very very very rarely read books.  When I do read a book, it usually is a reference book of some description and of late, most of the books I’ve read have either been about business development or marketing.

The thing that attracted me to this particular book was that 1. it was about music and the brain… (two things I find fascinating) and 2. it was written like a reference book as Daniel Levitin has worked as a recording engineer and producer turned neuroscientist.  So he’s got the hands-on experience but also an incredibly comprehensive understanding of the brain.

So I bought the book and it was fantastic.

I’ve learnt a lot about how the brain stores and interprets information in general and a lot of specific examples pertaining to how it handles music… what makes us like the songs we like, what makes us dislike other types of music and many other things far too detailed (and most likely boring to anyone who isn’t me) about the brain and music.

To demonstrate various types of music and the cognitive impact they have, Levitin referred back to a broad cross-section of music (ranging from classical, rock, jazz, pop and the list goes on) along with specific tracks by certain artists which make fine examples of these.

This made me realise that although I love music, my listening has been fairly limited and there are a lot of ‘great’ musicians and groups that I’ve never really listened to (other than what I’ve heard on the radio etc.)

So I’ve just started downloading a lot of new (to me) music and I’m going to be working my way through it… so far I’ve recently been listening to The Carpenters, The Stranglers, Phil Collins, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Lead Zeppelin etc. etc.

Some of these probably seem like a strange selection… but then again, I’m a little strange, so it’s a good fit for me – plus the broader you cast your net, the more likely you’ll catch something you like.

I’d encourage comments on other artists you think I should expose my eager ears to.

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  1. Phil Collins great choice Pete….my only suggestion would be country !! I don’t need to explain to you why as you already know but with all this new found knowledge you have it would be interesting to see how you perceive country music !! Suggested artist – Timn McGraw, The Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Keith Urban…

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