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Study, Stress and Music

Is background music beneficial or harmful during study? Given that about 75% of students listen to music whilst they do their homework, we ought to find out.

It is natural to enjoy learning. We are born curious and eager to gain new knowledge to make sense of the world we live in and gain an increased understanding of our self. This new and successful learning results in self-growth and self-esteem.

Human beings seek self-esteem and happiness more than anything else (Aristotle)

The model of a happy, self-motivated learner can be disrupted by stress and negative emotions. The little emotions are the captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it. (Vincent Van Gogh)

Stress occurs when there is a perception that a given challenge is greater than our skills. Stress can be good or bad, depending on how we deal with it. Good stress causes a narrowing of attention, bad stress causes a focus on negative outcomes. Bad stress can interfere with brain circuitry making learning more difficult. Physiological changes resulting from stress include increases in pulse rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Severe stress can cause headaches, tears and ulcers. In summary, stress can negatively affect learning. When I ask students if they have been stressed recently a majority of hands rise.

Music is an art form which deals with the representation of emotion through the medium of sound. It can have a physical effect on us because it is closely linked with emotion, perhaps even more so than the abstract nature of words. The number one reason people listen to music is to moderate their emotional state. In a very real sense, music connects us with our inner selves.

Numerous studies leave us in no doubt that music can affect our mood state and stress levels. In fact, a great deal of present research involves the use of music in medical situations to assist recovery rates and induce a desired physiology (usually a lowering) of heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. The use of music as an element in medical intervention is an example of creative connection between subject areas. I explore this topic more in my staff PD units on trans-disciplinary learning and creativity.

Great innovation and new ideas emerge from trans-disciplinary connections (Kozumi)

Does music help or interfere with studying? Firstly, it depends what the task is. The more difficult the cognitive challenge, the more likely background music will disrupt the learning process. For less challenging learning tasks, music can greatly assist in providing external stimulation and a positive learning arousal state. Secondly, it depends on the characteristics of the music which we will come to in a moment; and thirdly, it depends on personality type. Extroverts enjoy and often require more external stimulation than introverts, and are likely to handle background noise better than introverts.

What are the music characteristics that aid or disrupt study?

Tempo

The recommended tempo for background music is in the range 70 -110 beats per minute, slightly faster than the heartbeat at rest. Music at fast tempi exerts a greater cognitive load (demands more attention) because our brain is processing more musical events per second. Fast music also raises the heartbeat, which is why gymnasiums use certain types of music with their fitness programs. Very slow music lowers the heartbeat, creating a state that might be too relaxed for study purposes.

Volume 

Music which is very loud or forceful exerts a greater cognitive load which makes concentration more difficult. Music which is too soft can also be irritating if we find we are straining to listen. Music with sudden dynamic (volume level) changes is also unsuitable. Volume level is an individual preference, but needs to be moderately low and consistent.

Tonality

For this topic, tonality refers to whether music is in a major or minor key. Music written in a major key generally has a happy character, whilst minor, sad. One does not need to be familiar with this music jargon as even very young children are adept at picking the tonality of music. For example, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is in a major key, whilst a funeral march would be in a minor key. Choosing music written in a major key and at an appropriate tempo is best for study purposes, although many people find that slightly quicker minor key music also works. This is because of relationships between musical characteristics – particularly between tempo and tonality, creating different arousal thresholds.

Lyrics

Many young people have a listening repertoire of only songs; that is, music with words. Lyrics are the most distracting aspect of background musical listening, because they compete with the same brain regions that process language. More particularly, studies have found that the most distracting background music per se is fast and familiar vocal music known by, chosen and liked by the listener.

So it’s not about genre of music, be it classical, jazz, pop or rock, but the inherent musical characteristics which affect our mood and learning readiness. These characteristics include tempo (the speed of the beat), volume, tonality (major or minor) and whether or not the music is instrumental or has words. There are indeed more pertinent musical characteristics including texture, melodic range and rhythmic complexity, but this beyond the scope of a typical student presentation. There is still much we don’t know about the effects of music listening on behaviour, and fMRI scanning is contributing much to our understanding.

The Powers That Be – Is The Music Industry Pimping The Music?

The music industry made up of several record labels is often given a “bad rap”. No, they do not force our children to listen to the negative music that they sell – remember we all have freedom of choice. However, what they are guilty of is flooding the market with the same types of music and turning a deaf ear to any music that does not fit into their profit margin. So, what you don’t hear – you won’t want to buy. The music industry has always done this, but even more so now that their profits are decreasing due to the popularity of online websites who offer a large library of music not only from artists we are familiar with, but new artists who have not been able to break through the industry road blocks. Music labels are notorious for keeping music that does not promote their interest off the radio stations by making sure that the music that DOES promote their interest is played in rotation – what kind of deals do they make? Is it payola? Not sure – that is for a legal mind to determine. The fact remains that only certain music selections are on the air – and we keep listening and buying the same song, different artist – just like the music labels want us to.

The Pimp Factor

Recording labels have even been known to contract with an artist, so that they can own the rights to their music – and then refuse to promote it – why? To control what you and I listen to on the .radio and keep the type of music that they want to promote in the forefront. In any other arena this action would be considered as “pimping”. This may seem like a harsh term – but what is a Pimp? According to the website EduQna “What Does Pimping My Ride Mean?”, the explanation fits pretty well “‘Pimp my Ride” is a phrase meaning the modification of (something), usually, impractical but very flashy way (think pimp-like). (making) modifications, etc. (something being) altered to achieve the appearance (something more media than real)”. I really love EduQna’s Rough translation: “Please sir, if you would kindly pull the cash from my pockets to make my (possession) appeal to my need for compensation.” If the word fits, recording labels should wear it. Many artists have complained that they feel “pimped out” due to the types of contracts they innocently sign just to break into the industry – the signing may be innocent, but the wording of the contract is by design – to control the music and the artist who creates it.

The music industry is really shooting itself in the foot and hemorrhaging slowly by not joining with online music sites whereby both can profit. However, in its effort to control the industry as it has in the past, they are missing out on a large opportunity to sell a larger variety of music to their demographic target – 13 to 18 year old listeners. But those listeners are growing up and due to their computer and internet abilities, they are “hacking” into an online market of music that the mainstream music industry can’t touch – Online Streaming Music.

Gently Down the (Music) Stream

In 1999, an 18-year-old college dropout named Shawn Fanning changed the music exchange forever with his file-sharing program called Napster. His idea (not the 60 hours of creating the computer code it took to create it) was simple: a computer program that allowed computer users to share and swap files, specifically music, through a centralized file server. His response to the complaints of the difficulty to finding and downloading music over the Net was to stay awake 60 straight hours writing the source code for a program that combined a music-search function with a file-sharing system and, to facilitate communication, instant messaging. Napster was born. But was Shawn patted on the back for his ingenuity? Are you kidding? The Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against Napster charging them with tributary copyright infringement, which means Napster was accused not of violating copyright itself but of contributing to and facilitating other people’s infringement. However, Napster argued with some success that because the actual files are never in Napster’s possession, but transferred from user to user, that Napster is not acting illegally. The issue in P2P applications (Peer to Peer) is that if Napster is guilty of copyright infringement, then the consumers of Napster are guilty too. Likewise, if the consumers are not guilty, then how can Napster be held responsible?

So Shawn and his tiny company of 50 employees in Redwood City, California was up against media empires like Universal, Sony and BMG. But what the music industry failed to see is that whatever the outcome of the Napster lawsuit, Napster had opened a proverbial window of possibility on the Internet and more companies would and did spring up over time. After a protracted legal battle the site would eventually be shut down. Years later, after being bought by Roxio, it would reemerge as a popular digital music service. Since that time, there are thousands of sites worldwide, that have grown from and perfected what Shawn started moved through the controversy, and now provide quality music to its online customers through a process called “streaming”. “Streaming” is a generic term in the computer world. It basically means that the data being transferred can be used immediately, without having to download the song in it’s entirety before it can be used. Audio (music) and video (that is a topic of another article) can be streamed successfully, and with a high quality result.

One of the most popular providers of streaming audio and video, of course is Apple Computers. With the introduction and popularity explosion of the I-Pod, which was created for downloading, transferring and playing music and now video, Apple created I-Tunes, a service where you can purchase individual songs or full albums, from an extensive library – from any genre you can think of – where customers can purchase tracks online for a nominal fee. This is due to the fact that I-Tunes and other streaming music companies have created partnerships through licensing agreements with some artists and some music labels. And now with the I-Phone gaining popularity, there is no end to what “streams” of media can be had by anyone with an media player.

Though technological progress has been made in this area, megalomania is still pervasive. There is still a large population of record labels and companies who have chosen not to partner with digital/streaming music companies. Why? Control – the music companies want and have control over the majority of music and artists of the music that you listen to.

 

The Healing Power of the Music, Fitness Connection

A growing number of people have discovered how music can help dissolve their daily tension, physical problems such as migraines and the emotional problems of anxiety and depression. Music and fitness share a common bond in that they both block out or redirect stress hormones, lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, energize and sooth us and improve our focus. When music and fitness merge, an even stronger bond is formed. We as fitness and healthcare professionals have the opportunity to use this music-fitness connection in our aquatic and group exercise classes and personal training and therapy sessions. This makes us all therapists of sorts, and the end result of a class or session is a total mind/body treatment.

The healing power of music is part of the medicinal arsenal that aids us in returning to our fitness activities after an initial illness or injury. Music relaxes us, which causes the release of endorphins (the “feel good” hormones). These endorphins create a way to manage pain and help us return sooner to our fitness activities.

Aerobic exercise promotes the release of endorphins, helping the brain to block pain signals. Exercise can also reduce the side effects of depression and anxiety that often result from chronic pain; swimming or aqua aerobics in a warm pool are extremely beneficial for this chronic pain. Not only do these endorphins help with pain, but they also help keep stress hormones (such as cortisol) in check. When our brain perceives any type of bodily stress, the hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland, which then tells our adrenal glands to produce cortisol. By keeping control of stress hormones, whether through regular exercise and/or listening to music, we might be able to help prevent degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Music soothes the stress of chemotherapy in cancer patients, who are often stricken with anxiety and emotional upset during treatment. A study conducted by Barrie Cassileth, PhD, proved that out of 69 adult patients, those who received music therapy reported 37 percent less total mood disturbance and 28 percent less anxiety than the other patients.1

Just as the properties of water work as an analgesic to relieve the physical strain and pain of exercise, so does music. Music has a positive effect on exercise in that it distracts people from the effort, thus also taking their mind off the strain and pain. Researchers, such as Luis F. Aragòn-Vargas, PhD, agree that music’s positive effect on endurance and exercise performance allows people to work out longer and with more intensity. An added bonus is that music adds enjoyment-especially when it is music you like. For those in need of an “easy-on-the-joints” workout, water exercise will give you this. When combined with music, this type of workout will give you the benefits of resistance training with the added bonus of endurance, improved performance and enjoyment.

Do you know a musician who is also a good athlete? I have seen many in my years of teaching and training. Playing a musical instrument can sharpen your senses, improve coordination and give you a keener sense of timing. These are also the ingredients needed in athletic training.

Two studies where music, silence and static noise were used as control factors produced interesting results. In one study, the strength of the immune system was measured against these three factors. In the group exposed to silence, their immune systems showed no response and remained at the same level. Those subjected to static noise showed a lowered immune system response, while the group that listened to music showed an increase in the strength of their immune system. When using these same three control factors in an exercise bike test, the findings were that those who listened to music traveled 11 percent farther. In yet another eight-week walking study at Ohio State University, using subjects with serious lung disease, results showed that those who listened to music walked 21 percent farther than those who did not listen to music.

One method of combining music and fitness has shown positive behavioral changes when used with autistic children. This beneficial medium is thought to be due to music’s non-verbal and non-threatening nature. One may only need to find the child’s preferred music, and then it can be utilized. There is no style of music more beneficial than another. Music that the individual is particularly fond of will always have the best therapeutic effect. Using music in a game setting perfectly combines music with fitness. These can be simple activities such as passing a ball back and forth to music. Michelle Dozois, International fitness presenter, has discovered music’s profound effect with her autistic son. Music’s mood-changing effect is apparent as it calms him. “It changes his demeanor instantly,” says Michelle. “Music wakes up the body and mind in a therapeutic way.”

Physical therapy is an excellent example of using music for movement. Sharlynn Landers, PT, MPT, has used sound in working with patients on improving their gait. The “scuff” of the feet produces auditory recognition and enables the therapist and patient to detect differences or similarities in the sound of each foot.

Many healthcare professionals today use music to stimulate motor function. Patients with nerve impairment from Parkinson’s disease or a stroke have seen improvement from the benefit of music therapy.

 

Free or Fee? What is Music Worth?

We are much more reliant today than ever before on technology and the many contributions it makes to our lives every second. Perhaps most notable is the many options technology has given to the Internet and the world of entertainment, making many artistic projects and productions, from digital music albums to e-books to short and long films and television programs available to a larger audience of people.

Steadily children that grew up with the Internet and don’t remember a time without it are reaching adulthood, and attitudes about both the monetary value of artists’ works available online and the cultural value of these works are changing. This revolution began with the introduction of CD’s, which became easy to copy and distribute to friends.

There are certainly varying opinions about the worth of downloadable music and purchased music in general; while a younger generation of music lovers is certainly divided on whether music downloaded online should be free music, there are definitely more in that generation deciding that perhaps people should be more freely allowed. When it is so much easier to copy mp3’s online and from friends, and also easier to record entire albums in the studio with full digital capabilities, many young music listeners wonder, is a musician’s work and the musician him/herself really worth as much as at the dawn of the recording industry?

Many studies have shown that adults that remember a time when recorded music was expensive and more difficult to obtain are much more cognizant and respectful of basic music Copyright Law. They understand why certain laws are in place, and some that are artists themselves have relied on Copyright Law to protect their creative expressions. Copyright Law also allows music and other art forms to perpetuate in the world, and is the reason there is so much variety available.

The music industry has been cracking down on how people get their music recently in response to the increased availability of downloadable music and digital music on the Internet. The music industry was largely unprepared for the sudden introduction of file sharing programs to music lovers, and it has taken several years for them to realize their impact on musicians, songwriters, other music professionals and record companies. Before the Internet, most young people bought CD’s, and shared them by simply burning a copy for friends. While this was certainly a violation of Copyright Law, it somehow did not pose as large of a problem as when mp3 players became available and people downloaded free music off the Internet en mass through high-speed connections. The music industry has recently started filing lawsuit after lawsuit to stop this phenomenon and put systems in place to make music lovers pay for downloadable music. As was evidenced in recent lawsuits that were filed against those in small towns in middle America, you do not have to be high profile to suffer consequences for violating the law when it comes to digital music.

The industry has been driving hard to try to get the public to recognize that not paying for music takes money away from artists and musicians that they deserve for their hard work. While music is a source of entertainment and a cultural commodity for most, for those involved in creating it, it is a job that they rely on to make lives for themselves. Like any other professional, musicians can’t be expected to do their work for free. While the amount some receive is certainly debatable, what is not debatable is that they should receive something. The latest drive to enforce Copyright Law by the music industry is causing a stir among young people. New anti-piracy software is now being put on CD’s to cut down on illegal CD copying. The software prevents listeners from burning the CD more than five times.

Teens especially are noting that this will not stop others from discovering new ways to get music. Many adults agree that someone is bound to come up with a way around the software, as technology always seems to find a way to surmount obstacles that prevent free sharing of music, DVD’s and other media.

Many teens note that there is an obvious and simple way around the anti-piracy software; all a person has to do is make a copy of the CD once and then use the copy to make more copies. Those invested in the downloadable music and digital music craze feel the anti-piracy software is really just a way to slow down some of the most avid copiers while the industry thinks of a more permanent solution.

Other teens support these new attempts to prevent people from getting music for free. They feel that music is a valuable part of everyone’s lives that touches so many aspects that certainly free music or even cheap music should not even be an option. They fully understand why musicians deserve to be paid for the privilege of owning and listening to their music over and over again.

 

Between The Idea And Work – Course Of Musical Data Processing

If musical data processing is essential us so much today, it is that it gradually created tools which are radically modifying the manner of thinking the music. However, its history is short. It merges with the development of numerical technologies: computers, initially, accompanied by creation by the languages symbolic intended for the programming, then with a whole troop of inventions in numerical technology. Enough early in its history, data processing will be shown sufficiently ripe to accommodate concerns of all kinds, energy of accountancy to scientific research, while passing naturally by what interests us, artistic creation.

And it is undoubtedly there that it is necessary to distinguish what arises from data processing itself, and what belongs rather to the broader world of numerical technology. The music amply draws from these two fields its new resources. However, since the field of the sound is converted today into audio numerical, the distinction is essential. Musical data processing is born from the meeting of the musical concerns and the environment resulting from numerical technologies and the specificity of the computer, on the one hand, and of the scientific fields which clarify its research topics. If the musical composition appears there in good place, practically all the other activities of the music are found there. And musical research partly covers the ground cleared by data processing, acoustics, the treatment of the signal, even cognitive psychology: thus musical data processing is at the center of several musical, scientific and technical fields.

But it is the recourse to the specific contributions of the data processing which characterizes its step. New conceptual tools are unceasingly provided by the artificial intelligence, which are concretized by languages such as Lisp or Prolog. They are put at once at the musicologist assistance or abstracting service to the composition. Research in systems real time and on the interfaces interactive makes it possible to conceive new connections between the instrumentalist and the electronic universe.

Great stages of musical data processing

With the origin of musical data processing, one finds two types of activities, independent one of the other. If these activities prudent today, it is in another manner that the original vision which caused their birth could enable to foresee. These two types of activities are: the musical composition, and production of the sound. In both cases, the manufacture of the desired result is ensured by the computer. These two types of activities are appreciably contemporary. The first serious tests of musical composition per computer go back to 1956: it is on this date that Lejaren Hiller calculated a partition using rules encodes in the form of algorithms on the computer Illiac I of the university of Illinois. It is about Illiac Suite for String Quartet, whose three movements are carried out this year by the string quartet WQXR. In a famous structure, published in 1959 and which supports the title of “Experimental Music-Composition with year Electronic Computer”, Lejaren Hiller explains in detail the procedures that it applied to the Illiac computer in order to produce the partition of his string quartet.

To locate this period, it is as into 1956 as John McCarthy forged the term of artificial intelligence. One year later, max Mathews, researcher at the laboratories of the Bell Telephone, in the New Jersey, a first numerical programmer of synthesis of the sound for the computer IBM 704 writes. Known today under the name of Music I, it is the first of a great family of acoustic compilers; a psychologist, Newman Guttman, generates first a one 15 seconds duration study, In the Silver Scale. It is as into 1957 as the four movements of the Continuation Illiac for String Quartet of Lejaren Hiller are published; the same year is born the primitive version from the famous language of FORTRAN program (FORmula TRANslator). Let us note that during the creation of the work of Hiller by the string quartet WQXR, it is max Mathews which organized a recording, which gave place, thereafter, with the publication of this recording in a disc carried out in 1960 by the Bell Laboratories, and entitled Music from Mathematics: even if the ways traced by these two inventors are independent, it is not known as that they did not cross…

From these two almost contemporary events, the development will continue, gradually, in the traced directions: the composition and production of the sound. We will see low the courses of them. But a third way is not long in appearing: it is born from the same observation that had made Hiller: the computer is above all, at that time, a formidable calculating machine. Moreover, the English term of selected computer indicated, before the appearance of these machines, the employees charged to operate calculations. But at the same time, with a bit of fear, one spoke readily at the time of electronic brains. An artist could not approach the computer not without a certain emotion, which explains without any doubt the attraction sometimes terrifying that data processing will exert on the artists of the following decades. But they are two scientists who are at the origin of these experiments: Hiller practiced chemistry, while Mathews was an already famous researcher. It is undoubtedly what explains remarkable methodologies that they reflect in place, each one on their side, and with completely independent aims.

With the Bell laboratories, max Mathews, on his side, written in 1957 a first numerical programmed of synthesis of the sound for the computer IBM 704, equipped with 4096 words of memory. Known today under the name of Music I, it is the first of a great family. The program Music III (1960) introduced the concept of instrument modular. The model imagined by max Mathews is inspired more than one equipment of laboratory or an electronic studio of music that by an acoustic stringed-instrument trade. The program offers a range of independent modules (Unit Generators), in charge each one of an elementary function: oscillator with form of programmable wave, adder of signals, multiplier, generator of envelopes and random signals, etc… The musician builds a “instrument” by connecting a selection of modules between them. The signals produced by the oscillators or the generators are led towards other modules there to be modified or mixed. Several instruments can be joined together within a “orchestra”, each instrument having its own identity. Contrary to what occurs in the material universe, it there not of limit to the number of modules usable simultaneously, except perhaps the memory of the computer. The result of the placement of the instrument is the progressive calculation of the sound in the form of a sequence of numbers which, put end to end, represent a complex sound wave. These numbers are called “samples”. Today, the number of samples representing one second of its was established to 44 100 per channel for the applications general public, and to 48 000 for the professional field.

Because of relative slowness of the machines and design weight to be carried out, time put to generate the sound wave is quite higher than the duration of the sounds; the operation of these programs is known as “in differed time”. With the origin, the sound waves calculated in numerical form were stored on a numerical tape progressively proceeding end of an arithmetic unit of samples. This mode of production of the sound is called “direct synthesis”. Thus creates for itself a “file of sound”; once completed, the musician calls upon a second program, charged reading the file of sound in real time and with sending the samples towards a digital-to-analog converter, which is connected to an amplifier and loudspeakers.

To activate the orchestra, the musician must write a “partition”, in which all the parameters claimed by the modules of the instrument are specified. This partition is presented in the form of a list of numbers or telegraphy codes, each “note” or a each event being the subject of a particular list. These lists are ordered in time.

 

Groove to Enthralling Pop Music

Pop music is the most awesome and popular genre in music. This genre is extremely famous and is acclaimed world wide. It is the music style of modern times and has led to a great revolution in the world of music. It is the awesome category of music which has broken various barriers of conventional and traditional music. This music is beyond the formal education in music or typical music styles. The sole reason of the immense success of this kind of music is its ability to muse and entertain people.

The music is created with an intention to attract and appeal the masses. Anyone and everyone can enjoy this music without being an expert and connoisseur of music. It focuses more on entertainment than the artistic and expert conceptualizations. This music does not emphasize on the some particular music form. However, it simply gives the artist freedom to experiment with the various kinds of music and express them in their own styles.

The genre is immensely famous amongst the youngsters and the teenagers. Its style has become the favourite of the masses due to its flexibility. People can easily comprehend it and relate to it. Pop songs are written with sheer goal of entertaining the audience. This music genre cannot be typified or classified as per one’s style. This exquisite style comprises of different moods and it is sheer expression of the artist’s creativity that matters the most.

Pop Music is gaining popularity since 1950’s this great music style has overshadowed all its contemporaries. Played with the typical musical instruments like Guitar, Drum and electronic keyboards, the music is all about high spiritedness and fun. These music bands are very famous and people across the world admire them. The orchestra and the singers together comprise the pop band.

Many popular artistes of the music genre have ruled the music world. Its lovers keenly wait for the release of the albums from their favourite artistes. The Beetles has been one of the most popular music bands in the world. They have ruled the music charts and people have loved their music crazily. Over the years the singers, song writers and the musicians played a vital role in the expansion and growth of the genre. Everyone loves to listen to this incredible music style.

We are the World, Careless Whisper and Footloose are some of the most rocking hits of the 1980s. It was the era in which the genre gained its highest position. In 1990s, the music gained new heights with female artistes coming up with awesome pop music videos and songs. There were some awesome female singles released that outclassed the male performances. Vogue, The power of Love, Hold On and the Hero are the few outstanding numbers.

Madonna, Shania Twain etc were some of the most admired pop stars of the last decade. Elton John came up with some of the most astounding Pop classics that gave the music immense popularity. Michael Jackson gained the greatest fan following with his unique style and incredible pop numbers.

In the present times, the pop music has ruled the music world. No other genre is so popular and admired by the people. With young pop stars coming with innovative and sizzling numbers, this music is all set to achieve new heights. Britney Spears is one of the hottest pop icons of the new generation. Her deadly music videos like Oops! I did it Again, I am a Slave For You etc have made her the most desirable Pop icon amongst the teenagers. Beyonce Knowles’ Crazy in Love, White Flag and other hits have also rocked the music fans the world over.

Jennifer Lopez, Boy Zone, Spice Girls and other pop stars have given great entertainment to the people across the world. Shakira has set a new trend with her individual style with the smashing hits like Hips Don’t Lie and Whenever, Wherever.

Hip hop based pop music video made waves, with great hits like Hot in Herre, Don’t Phunk With my Heart, India Club and Candy Shop. Latin Pop also became significantly popular with the amazing hit By Enrique – Hero. The Ketchup Song was also an outstanding hit in 2002. Pop music has enthralled people across the globe. Everyone should listen to pop music for great entertainment and rejuvenation.

 

Why Study music? The Important Role of the Family

The 21st century will see children be born that are capable to build such complex thoughts that these will be the reflection of new ways to explain and understand a world that will be becoming more difficult for us to define.
We have to educate them well for the survival of our species, for an increased sensitivity towards other human beings, for increasing comprehension of diversity and for maintaining peace in our planet. All our efforts towards defending what belongs to us, our nations, and the Earth will be wasted unless we consider that mankind needs peace, internally and externally. What good does us to prepare our children other than for the evolution of our species, the advancement of arts and science, the increased understanding of the roles of different cultures, the search for spiritualism? Why prepare our children for other than developing the need for them to become better each day that passes? Philosophy, antropology, sociology, psychology, among other disciplines, highlight themes of importance, among them those that explain the importance of deriving meaning and increasing communication in interactions among men. Each one of our generations sees itself creating meaning for what was defined regarding the importance of life in society, and as the time passes, the new inhabitants of Earth create new ways in which to explain new meanings to facts and acts in which men find themselves involved in.

Men need to comprehend each other. One culture needs to value the others. The teaching of music can provide a favorable environment for a specific type of communication in society and this is why it is necessary to teach music to babies and infants. The earlier we start, the better!

Teaching music provides the learning of signs and/or symbols, which amplify the human capacity to know and create from systems and conventions that the child cannot find in other systems and/or disciplines. And this practice helps develop intelligence. In this opportunity, other concepts are developed. Objects and processes which are unconventional are developed and from this arises the opportunigty for the musical cognitive system to satisfy a specific type of human desire: that of creating with sound, utilizing and thinking with sounds. Communicating with sound!

To live musically gives the child the opportunity to develop meanings which go beyond those simply intellectual. Hence, the child exercises complex thoughts through experiencing music, by participating and integrating him/herself in this ‘difficult to define’ world. When the child is capable to communicate emotional needs, he/she exteriorizes aesthetic meanings, treating the abstract in a concrete way and assigning objective meaning to other types of communication that he/she can create. Practicing music in groups unifies children. To listen to music created by another exercises communication abilities. To have your own music heard by others improves self-esteem. Music is not, however, a language. It results from complex systems of sound utilization, which through form, structure, and the instruments it utilizes, concertizes itself through the works, and conveys meaning. This is why music has to be taught to be understood in all its complexity. The result for someone listening, or making music, is the exchange of emotions. And the exchange of emotions promotes simplicity in this interaction. This exchange also deepens communication. These manipulations with sound and structural models must be linked to the context in which the individuals involved in the musical experience are into. Therefore, each musical experience communicates the disposition, creativity, and traces of different cultures, which reflect themselves in the processes of musical production, appreciation, and reproduction.

In this manner, in order for us to defend the idea that it is necessary to promote internal and external peace for mankind, we need to foment learning and musical experience for our children, since an early age.

Music is life. It involves us since it is a human creation. It can be created and executed by us throughout many phases of our development. It is in the satisfaction of making music that children involve themselves cognitively with processes of creativity, problem-solving, and gaining the initiative to take risks, to express themselves, and to evolve as a thinker and innovator. Musical learning leads to interpersonal relationships, acceptance by the group, the desire to create, and the motivation to communicate.

In the following paragraphs we will suggest some ideas about how to promote teaching/learning music in our families:

1 – How to lead the musical experience?

First, babies or young children need a favorable environment. It is necessary to create success values in the family. In order to have success it is necessary that the parents have courage and take risks to live happy days and each day more satisfying moments for their children. We can enumerate 10 aspects that must be considered if we would like to improve our success in creating a more musical environment for our children:

1 – SUCCESS! Believe that your child is capable to understand and to make music! In the least this will create a person with music appreciation and will be part of an audience that will understand and will derive satisfaction from quality music. S/he will capable to appreciate our collective and historical musical culture of mankind and will be able to maintain it and promote it.

2 – OPTIMISM! Yes, it is possible to appreciate, create, live, and become highly satisfied with the musical activity and learning! Many are those who did and still currently do this.

3 – INITIATIVE! Have in mind an action plan. See how the child is going to be exposed or become into contact with music. Will it be through and/or from listening since in utero? What kind of music will s/he listen to? Only after birth will you expose the baby to music? Who might sing to the baby (nursery rhymes or other songs)? Have you selected them?
Have you found out whether music from a particular musical instrument pleases the baby more? One must remember that any and all initiative must lead to experiencing music daily, and always in an environment of satisfaction and appreciation for music of good quality.

4 – GOALS! It is necessary to know where the family wants to arrive. It is necessary to ask whether experiencing music leads to increasing music appreciation in the family, community and county, or whether it is to develop musical performers/musicians. You should establish goals and follow the development of music cognitive skills and then this will lead to a decision of whether or not the child should dedicate him/herself to professional performance. If the child decides, between 6 and 10 years of age, that s/he wants to deepen his/her knowledge as a performer, new goals will have to be developed and implemented. We have to embrace the idea together with the child if this makes them happy and indeed encourage them to play and pursue the mastery of their favorite instrument.

5 – WORK! Work means regularity, seriously dedicating yourself to the compromise of providing the child with the opportunity to experience music everyday. Work means to develop, through music, habits and attitudes of musical execution. This means that there has to be dedication to learning music theory, vocal, instrumental, and improvisational practices. And that there must be a commitment to theoretical learning (musical concepts) and musical elements essential to the utilization of musical structures and schemes in the process of musical experiencing and creation .

6- COMMUNICATION! Music is an excellent medium for teaching us the importance of communication. A baby’s cry already is an element of communication and it is composed by notes and musical intervals. Many children sing, hum melodies long before they begin to speak. Therefore, when music is already being exercised and played, musical improvisation becomes an example of sophistication reached by those executing the process. It is possible that different culture see themselves through similarities of esthetic emotions promoted by listening to different songs, which bring in their scope similar musical ideas. It is possible for people from one culture to love and admire another due to their music. Music creates communication links and bridges the distance among men.

 

Exciting Career Prospects in Music

Gone are the days when music was merely considered to be a hobby, or a good way to pass time. Music today is much more than a vocation. It has to have passion and zest. It is very competitive and youthful. And therefore this article has to be young; having the flavour of something new, probably because I am young, my readers will also be young, and it is the youth who make what the present day India is all about – a Young and Dynamic India. Thus foraying into the vast ocean of Music, and especially into Hindustani Music, many young buds like me are likely to be concerned about their careers in this field. With the growth of the entertainment industry, which comprises of all sorts of faculties and organizations, like the film industry, advertisement industry, radio and television industry etc., music has become a highly respectable and lucrative career option. But unfortunately, many of us from a small town like Allahabad are unaware of where music is actually turning to.

Well, in this fast paced age, where everything has converged to the era of “Nano” (I am talking of the latest technology that has zoomed up like a Sapaat Taan of the Gwalior Gharana), I better express my views in a simple, direct, but a comprehensive manner.

First things First – What is Music? Let us first know what Indian music in brief is all about.

“Geetam, vaadyam tatha nrityam, triyam Sangeet muchchyate”, a maxim from the granth – Sangeet Ratnakar by the famous musicologist Sharangdev.

The above maxim says that Indian classical music, which is a school of thought, comprises of three different arts which are:

(a) Vocal, or Singing (the expression of sound vocally like Khayal, Ghazal, Bhajan etc.);

(b)Playing of a musical Instrument (the expression of music through an Instrument like Sitar, Veena, Harmonium etc.) and last but not the least,

(c)Dancing (The expression of music bodily through the art of Dance).

No matter how you express it, these three arts are interdependent on each other. This is true of either the styles, or Paddhatees, in Indian music — the North Indian Music and the Carnatic Music.

The growth of the entertainment Industry has opened many new avenues and vistas for those who want to seriously pursue their love for music professionally.

The field of Music (Singing, Dancing and Playing of Instruments) offers many different kinds of jobs based on a person’s interest and capabilities. Broad categorizations of jobs available in the music industry include –

1. Teaching: One of the most traditional trades in music. Those who prefer a one to one interaction can start their very own music school where they can teach / train other aspiring singers. You can open coaching class for training students for scholarships and competitive exams such as the Sangeet Natak Academy, MHRD, NET, for shows like Sa Re Ga Ma etc., jingles for ad campaigns. This is no doubt a very lucrative career option as well.

Nevertheless I would like to suggest, come out of this and explore some other options as well!

2. Sound Recording: For this you need to be a trained sound engineer, or a trained sound recordist, a combiner or an editor. But for this one must know the latest computer softwares in the market, recording gadgets and should be able to manage the recording instruments and the techniques easily.

Singers too with a good trained voice can sing at recording studios and lend their voices as back up voices etc.

3. Concerts / Performances and Live Shows: A professional singer/instrumentalist/dancer, or a freelancer, has the choice to perform in front of a live audience at concerts and live shows, including marriage parties, birthday parties and can be a religious music impresario for the NRIs looking back to their roots in religious functions etc.

4. DJ’s, VJ’s & RJ’s: Those who are not directly into singing, but enjoy music all the same, can become a DJ (Disc Jockey), RJ (Radio Jockey) and VJ (Video Jockey). All three deal with music. However, what differentiates them is the medium they use to reach the audiences. A VJ presents music on Television like a Music compere for Antakshari type programmes, an RJ presents music on Radio and a DJ presents music at live shows, or Discos.

5. Instrument Repairing / Instrument Manufacturing: This industry has a lot of scope and prospects, particularly in large urban towns. The traditional as well as modern electronic instruments, or instrument substitutes, are spreading their wings and are getting accepted across the world. A career in this focused zone can not be ignored in today’s world.

6. Event Management/ Organizer: You need to be creative and an instictive manager, or a supervisor. One can organize music shows. These days jobs are available for teaching Mehendi and Banna Banni songs for marriages/event management etc. After all, what does SpicMacay do? Or, why to go that far, the music conferences organized by Prayag Sangeet Samiti every year too are an example. Wonder, they may be looking to outsource the management of the event to some one who can deliver.

7. Music Therapists: Examples are plenty where music has been successfully utilized for therapeutic purposes. It has been used even for increasing crop , or milk production. One can setup a clinic in a Spa, like that is done by an aroma therapist or a gemologist etc and cure people and do something for a social cause.

8. Music Composer: This is one of the most creative and innovative field in music where, “You Make Music”. Yes, you will make people tap and rap to your music. This seems to be very interesting but at the same time it has to be an intelligent work done. A music director, or a composer, must know various kinds of music. Suppose, you are given a task to make a track which has the ‘feel’ of Arabic music or Boul geet or Lavani. Did you notice, I said ‘feel of’…, that means it should present the mood of Arabic music (or Boul or Lavani), but at the same time it should not be totally Arabic music.

9. Music Arranger: His job is different than that of the music composer but is not exactly what people think. He has to ‘arrange’ music of a song or background scores. One needs to have a great knowledge of various instruments, sounds etc. and should be able to setup a network of all kinds of music professionals whose services can be harnessed as per need of the Music Director.

10. Orchestration: Remember “Maihar Band” of Ustad Allahuddin Khan! Another one of Zubin Mehta? I can suggest some more names like, Beethoven, Mozart, Hyden etc. All of them created music using various instruments and instrumentalists and created history.

11. Website or Software Designer: I am not joking. If you are a software professional, or a website designer, you can create a music website of your own and also a software and people will admire you.

12. Paper Reading: If you have a good understanding of music, you can write a paper and read it to discerning audiences. That means explain your research or project to an audience. If you know how to use power-point of Ms Office in Windows you can make a power-point presentation and can give lecture using it.

13. Music restorer: This means you can restore music recordings by becoming a music historian, like CDs, Cassettes, Videos, Tapes, books and create you own archive or a library.

14. Music vendor: You can sell music by opening a music shop etc..

15. Others: Go on for music in Hotels, Airlines, Railways, and Army Bands which are fancy and equally professional with fixed salaries. You can drive yourself towards a music Choreographer’s job if interested in dance but again be sure that you must know dancing styles from Kathak to Salsa or Jive, Music Journalism/E-journalism [where you need to have good writing skills].

There are many schools and institutions which offer training in music like Music Departments in various known Universities, autonomous bodies like Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Prayag Sangeet Samiti and Bhatkhande University etc. Make sure to check the course schedule before enrolling.

 

Music Therapy – How Music Works As a Catalyst to Promote Health and Wellness

“If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! It had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor!……”

Thus starts the Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “Twelfth Night”, with the love-struck Duke Orsino ordering his musicians at his palace to feed him with music all the night, as he desires to have the sweet strains feed his appetite for romance. The bard makes him describe the music played as an energizing “food of love”, and in the following lines makes him pour forth sweet words of passion, all of which originate from the tranquilizing effects of the music being played.

Centuries before, while this play had been staged, and even epochs later, the cultivation of music and the arts used to be perceived merely as aesthetic pursuits, entertaining and relaxing the mind and the soul and also connecting the performers with people at large. Today, while numerous groundbreaking researches have proved that music, as an entity, has a profound effect on the body and the psyche of all living organisms, that which was perceived only as an aesthetic pursuit is today regarded as an established therapy to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages. In fact, quite some time back researches had shown music used as a therapy to not only bring about qualitative changes in humans, but also in animals and plants.

While today’s youth are completely in love with music having beats and rhythms, it is a fact revealed by scientists that these beats have a definite impact on the stimulation of the body of an individual. Let us for once think about the immensely mentally invigorating music like the symphonies of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart! Can anybody ever deny the level of creativity, positive energy, powerful melodies and harmonies they produce that compel the mind and the soul to embark on a journey of powerful emotions and impulses? Any classical form of music, for that matter, has been said to have profound effects on both the body and the psyche of individuals, playing an instrumental role in the healing and harmonizing of the mind, body and spirit. Long accepted as both soother and stimulant, any form of “positive music”, including classical music has been proved to profoundly impact the cognitive abilities, creativity, optimism levels and the overall ‘state of the mind’ of an individual. By the term “positive music”, researchers have actually referred to the kind of music which is usually emotionally and spiritually uplifting, and that which is gifted with beneficial qualities, healing the mind and the body in the process. Apart from the pure classical variety of music, pop songs that are romantic in content, country tunes, and some amount of rhythm and blues (earlier referred to as ‘race music’) with evocative lyrics and tune are considered to be parts of “positive music”. Today’s world music, a vast arena of music dedicated to the great non-western traditions of music, including Indian, Chinese, Persian (Iranian) and Sufi forms-comfortably fall into the category of “positive music” as defined by scholars and exponents of music.

What the ancient cultures, including the Vedanta philosophy, the ancient Greek philosophy had to say about the effects of music on an individual:

If we look back into the history of ancient, age-old philosophies and cultures, the extent of philosophical, spiritual impact that music was said to have on the human soul would become obvious to us. Ancient historians have come up with the fact that for thousands of years, the Vedic culture had used the profound sound effects of music not only for the tranquility of the mind, but also for the proper balance and equilibrium between the body and the soul, for encouraging a heightened state of awareness in humans, and even for health enhancement and promotion of healing. It had been believed by the unique Vedanta philosophers that ancient oriental music, in its true nature, was an enriched exercise of the human mind in its path of exploration into the mysteries of Nature and of Ultimate Truth (the “Brahman”). It was ages and thousands of centuries ago that in the ancient Vedanta philosophy, music had been considered as a subtle divine thread capable of linking the “Jeevatma” (individual soul) with the “Parmatma” (Supreme Soul). And why not, when the Vedanta philosophers had identified “shabda” (sound) as “brahma” (absolute reality), the primeval source of creation of the universe? This ancient concept of the “shabda-brahma” had been embraced in its entirety by ancient Vedic philosophers to understand the beauty, depth and elevating powers of ancient Indian music. On the other hand, the myriad effects that the various “raagas” of classical Indian music that inspire the human mind and rejuvenate the senses are quite undisputed till today. Saying this, it is imperative why the ancient spiritual music form (termed as the “Dhrupad”) performed in the temples and the courts from the ancient to the medieval times was connected to its spiritual roots and also why even contemporary researches still try to delve deep into its magical prowess on the human body and soul.

On the other hand, researchers have found out that in ancient Greece, the legendary mathematician Pythagoras theorized that music had the power to diminish and even eradicate negative energies and emotions from the human mind. Other ancient Greek philosophers had full faith in the ethical powers of music, including philosophers from around the fifth century B.C. to around third century A.D. Most of them recognized the immense impact of music on the development of one’s personality. The stupendous power of music over the ethos of an individual, and on the overall human disposition has been time and again emphasized by philosophers like Plato and also by Chinese authors of various documents.

 

Developing a Musical Child

“Music has a power of forming the character, and should, therefore, be introduced into the education of the young.” ~Socrates

Parents who put their children to musical learning at a young age must have known that they are putting in a very good investment. All the more enlightened are parents who enroll their young in MUSIC and MOVEMENT classes, where a musical child is developed before a child musician is made.

In a musical environment where foundational musical experiences involving the whole child – mind, body and spirit – form the basis of the developmental process, a solid musical foundation is laid that ensures much more sustainable musical development for the child in years to come. Such musical foundation includes developing a true passion and motivation for this art, musical discernment, auditory acuity, pitch and rhythmic competence, motor coordination, and expressiveness.

As an area of learning, music is a challenging topic that requires perseverance and inspirations. Many children had ‘fallen out’ with their musical pursuit within a short time because they were ‘jump-started’ in their musical development, going into learning to play an instrument before any of the above musical skills were in place. It is evident in children who were fortunate enough to be nurtured musically before being put to the rigors of formal music instructions, which they are much more likely to thrive and succeed in playing the instrument well.

The type of pre-instrumental music instructions that nurtures holistically a musical child should be started as early as infancy, but taken to a higher plane at 4 – 6 years of age. These are often weekly group sessions that engage children in a fun and developmentally appropriate manner. The following areas of development must be in place:

• Vocal development – the voice is the most important musical instrument that every child possesses. A musical child ought to be able to sing in pitch.

• Listening development –  the human ear is able to process information and discriminate between sound sources and discern qualities of sounds. It also governs attention and focus. A musical child will have a high command of this important sensory faculty.

• Movement development – dexterity, and coordination are motor skills required to play instruments well. Children who have danced and moved and experienced use of their body in a variety of ways will be able to transfer the same skills onto instrumental playing with ease. Music, when played expressively on an instrument, needs to be supported by an equally expressive body movement. A musical child will be relaxed and uninhibited in expressing his music through the body.

• Simple Instrumental Play that promotes eye-hand coordination and pitch association – the skill of reading music and playing at the same time is a challenge faced by many musicians. A young child can be prepared for this by working with simple melodic instruments like xylophones or glockenspiels.

Musical ensemble works – music is a community art form that is most enjoyable when playing together with others. Different tasks requiring different levels of competence in a musical ensemble allow children of different abilities to enjoy playing together and making ‘complex’ music. Ensemble opportunities in music classes also promote focus and confidence – both important traits for musicians.

• Music Literacy – reading and writing and composing music can be as easy as ABC if the child starts learning musical notations and putting them in musical context. This can start at age 4.

• Learning about musical styles and genres, composers, musical instruments, and musical terminology – these are all knowledge that widens a musical child’s horizon.

To accomplish all these, the weekly session should be at least 60 minutes long and preferably inclusive of parents or caregiver in a portion of the session. So that each child gets sufficient individual attention, the group should not be larger than 12 – 15.

If the child loves what he does in a music class, he will be much more likely to make music his life-long passion, whether or not he chooses the path of becoming a professional musician.

The Musical Classroom Experience:

• Vocal enhancement and singing – The use of musical language may sound odd to the average person, but it plays a vital role in preparing children for reading and writing easy rhythm patterns. You will hear tonal sounds like “do”, “re” “mi” and combination of rhythm and pitch like “mi-mi”, “ti-ti” and “fa-fa”. This is the language of music.

• Moving – Children already love to dance, and this kind of musical program encourages moving and dancing to the rhythms of musical pieces. This exercise helps improve coordination and promotes musicianship.

Musical reading and writing – Children learn about pitch, rhythmic notation, melodic notation and musical notes which will lead to their own compositions over the course of these classes.

• Attentive listening – Since young children love music already, they will be attentive and focused on learning the sounds of various instruments and develop the ability to identify them. Music classes like these also aid in learning more about the works of the master composers.

• Musical instrument exploration – The children will be given real instruments including percussion, stringed, keyboards and woodwind instruments in order to introduce them to all the choices they have in them. This opens up the opportunity for musical development before starting any kind of formal lessons.