Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
Really quite good: Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings
This article is totally amazing—and it gets more so as it goes.
Wow! Robin Thicke’s Paula reviewed by Sophie Gilbert.
Tom Jacobs writes in Pacific Standard:
As we’ve reported, a large body of research has noted a link between music education and higher test scores. But precisely why learning an instrument would have a positive impact on academic achievement has never been clear.
A new study from Boston Children’s Hospital provides a possible answer. It reports musical training may promote the development and maintenance of a key set of mental skills.
These executive functions, which are coordinated in the brain’s frontal lobe, “allow for planned, controlled behavior,” writes a research team led by Harvard University scholar Nadine Gaab. They enable us to manage our time and attention, organize our thoughts, and regulate our behavior—abilities that are crucial to success in school, as well as later life.
In an experiment featuring two separate groups of test subjects—one consisting of children, the other of adults—Gaab and her colleagues discovered a link between early musical training and heightened executive functioning. This, they argue, could explain “the previously reported links between musical training and enhanced cognitive skills.” . . .
The article doesn’t mention another way in which musical training might help in academic achievement: learning to play a musical instrument inculcates a “growth mindset,” as described by Carol Dweck: the idea that on-going effort and a focus on progress rather than current outcomes results in better learning and growth in capability. Because in the study of performing music one typically practices daily—and thus can see how practice results in improvement—the idea that effort is rewarded is readily perceived.
See this post for what I see as the motivating factor in the growth mindset.
Titled: “Mariusz Goli “Improwizacja” Katowice Stawowa “
Very interesting article about a series of tests to compare the quality of Stradivarius instruments with the best modern equivalents. The best modern instruments are, in the consensus of expert musicians, better than the Strads..
Very interesting example of unintended consequences and the success of some government programs. Whet Moser writes at Pacific Standard:
At some point over the last 15 years—sometime, say, between the 1999 release of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys and last year’s “Roar” by Katy Perry—it became an inescapable fact that if you want to understand American pop music, you pretty much have to understand Sweden.
Songwriters and producers from Stockholm have buttressed the careers of Lady Gaga, Madonna, Usher, Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Pitbull, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, and any number of other artists you’ve probably listened to while dancing, shopping, making out, or waiting on hold over the past decade. (And it’s not just American pop music that has Scandinavian fingerprints all over it: When Azerbaijan won the Eurovision contest in a 2011 upset, they did it with a song written for them by two Swedes.)
If Americans are aware of this phenomenon, it is probably because they’ve heard about the legendary Swedish producer and songwriter Max Martin. There are any number of ways to express Martin’s ubiquity, but here’s one: From 2010 to 2011, the pop idol Katy Perry spent an unprecedented 69 consecutive weeks in the Billboard top 10, surpassing the previous record-holder, the 1990s Swedish group Ace of Base, by four months. But the milestone was far more of a testament to Martin’s staying power than Perry’s: Not only did he help produce and write all but one of Perry’s record-breaking string of hits, but he began his career as a producer for Ace of Base. Max Martin has produced more number-one songs than anyone besides George Martin, the so-called fifth Beatle.
But Max Martin is not some kind of unicorn. Other Swedish producer-songwriters boast only moderately less impressive résumés: Anders Bagge, Andreas Carlsson, and Rami Yacoub, to name just a few, have likewise worked with incredible rosters of American pop stars. And even focusing on this shortlist of talent obscures a much larger infrastructure at work.
Sweden, and in particular Stockholm, is home to what business scholars and economic geographers call an “industry cluster”—an agglomeration of talent, business infrastructure, and competing firms all swirling around one industry, in one place. What Hollywood is to movies, what Nashville is to country music, and what Silicon Valley is to computing, Stockholm is to the production of pop. In fact, Sweden is the largest exporter of pop music, per capita, in the world, and the third largest exporter of pop overall. And in recent years, the country has seized not just the message, but the medium as well: As the industry moves toward a distribution model that relies on streaming music services, the Stockholm-born Spotify is a dominant player, with 24 million users per month.
So how did Sweden, a sparsely populated Nordic country where it’s dark for much of the year, become a world capital of popular music? Rarely does such a complex question lead to such a satisfying answer: Three-quarters of a century ago, . . .