Art Works Blog

NEA Arts: Decoding Music's Resonance

Whether it's hip hop or baroque or jazz or country-western, we all like some kind of music. For musician and scientist Parag Chordia it's Indian classical music that most deeply moves him. Chordia the artist has pursued this musical love, even taking a year off from school to study with a master musician based in India. Chordia the scientist has taken a slighly different tack--working with a team of researchers to find out why music makes us feel the way we do. In this excerpt from "Decoding Music's Resonance," one of the feature stories in the new NEA Arts, Chordia explains the basic questions behind his research.

“[Our research team said,] okay, when a person is hap­py, their speech sounds different than when they’re sad,” he explained. A sad person speaks softly, slowly, often mumbles, and has a darker tone; a happy person speaks more quickly and brightly. “We started to wonder, is music bootstrapping off of the same processes? In other words, are those fundamental acoustic cues being used to signify happiness and sadness in music?” 

Read the entire article here, and don't forget to browse the issue's additional feature stories, including a look at what happens when dance intersects with technology, and how theater can illuminate the somewhat hidden culture of science.



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