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Monday, August 3, 2015

Neurons and Fortissimo, and Adagio... Oh, My!

Music and neurology:
Do they go together like a horse and carriage?

I was fascinated, some time last year, by the image of a man undergoing brain surgery while playing the banjo (it sounds like a House plot point... in fact, I think they did something similar with a piano keyboard and a "savant"- someone who might not be able to be trusted to tie their own shoes or to go across the street, but can play music that would make Calliope, the muse, cry in joy.)
This man is not a savant, but his music is beautiful. Last night, Youtube threw me a recommendation that made my ears perk up: (It's opera, which is on the other end of the scale, musically, but my rather eccentric music lists tend to throw folk, opera and metal at me as a matter of course.) Stephen Fry, and his cohost on QI, which I recommend for everyone, meet for opera, and to discuss music and the nervous system with a group of varying neurologists. Davies is known to PLAY the part of the childlike, charming idiot (A part also played to perfection by Fry's 30+ year colleague, Hugh Laurie prior to his American debut. It's what makes House a bit... disturbing and weird for me.) This is a definite front, despite Davies looking a lot like a sweet, curly puppy. His reaction to opera is innocent, wide eyed, and you can definitely see his reactions. What does music do to us? What does music do FOR us? I think everyone's experience is going to be different... this is really obvious, but my spine might tingle hearing "Danse Macabre", while someone else might think, "Yeah, yeah, dancing skeletons, yawn, we had to watch this in 4th grade." (I saw one version with dancers in sheer browns and greens... very beautiful. You have the motif where it's very soft and sweet, and Death's violin isn't playing a creepy dance, but accompaniment to love.)Your spine might find Metallica partnering with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra to be tingle inducing. (It IS interesting, I'll admit, but it was in the sell out stage. ) What makes you move, what makes you close your eyes in joy? Does it heal your mind and body?

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