Is Music A Shared Language?

For most people, when you hear the first few bars of “Rock-A-Bye Baby,” you immediately know that the tune is a lullaby. But would you be able to pick out a lullaby from another culture?

This is the question that cognitive scientist Samuel Mehr and evolutionary biologist Manvir Singh were interested in answering. They played lullabies, dance songs, and other types of songs to random internet users to see if there was a universality between these musical forms.

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The Color Of Music

Around four percent of the world’s population has some form of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that blurs some of the lines around the senses. In two of the more common variants, synesthetes may involuntarily associate letters with colors, or see colors for musical notes—but there are many other forms of synesthesia, all involving the crossover of one form of perception to another.

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Artificial Intelligence Gets A Musical Makeover

The pop hits of the future might be written not by human musicians, but by machine-learning algorithms that have learned the rules of catchy music, and apply them to create never-before-heard melodies. Those tunes may not even require human hands to be heard, because a growing army of musical robots, from bagpipes to xylophones, can already play themselves—even improvise too.

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Turning Proteins Into Music

Proteins are the building blocks of life. They make up everything from cells and enzymes to skin, bones, and hair, to spider silk and conch shells. 

But it’s notoriously difficult to understand the complex shapes and structures that give proteins their unique identities. So at MIT, researchers are unraveling the mysteries of proteins using a more intuitive language—music.

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John Williams and the Chamber of Star Wars

Episode from David Walliams Marvellous Musical Podcast

In this episode, David Walliams explores the music of John Williams with his usual humor and wacky approach.  John Williams is the composer of the musical soundtrack for many great movies including Jaws, Superman – The Movie, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Seven Years in Tibet, Saving Private Ryan and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Listening Section

Here is just a small selection of John Williams’ music.  See how many you recognize.

Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter

Excerpt from Jaws

Star Wars

John Williams Conducts The Empire Strikes Back

Superman

Flying Theme from E.T.