Medical Mysteries of Music

Music syncs the brains of audiences with the performers

We all know the feeling that comes over us during a great gig when the audience and the performer(s) seem to come together with the music. Turns out there’s a neurological thing going on.

From Scientific American:

“A new paper in the journal NeuroImage has shown that this synchrony can be seen in the brain activities of the audience and performer. And the greater the degree of synchrony, the study found, the more the audience enjoys the performance. This result offers insight into the nature of musical exchanges and demonstrates that the musical experience runs deep: we dance and feel the same emotions together, and our neurons fire together as well.”

All the action happens in the right hemisphere of the brain, the part that helps us interpret melody and recognize musical structures and patterns. At play are something called “mirror neurons,” which enables us to get in tune with the thoughts and actions of others. Hence the synchronization of audience and performer via music.

The study was carried out using classical music, but there’s no reason to suggest that the same effect isn’t found in other genres.

More reading here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38303 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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