Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BP1_Welcome to my blog

The Capacity of 21st Century Music

Hey there!

Ever heard the expression "Soundtrack of my Life"? In the span of an average person's life, that soundtrack can culminate up to a gazillion tracks expanding through a multitude of genres!

Music has an incredible capacity to retain vast knowledge, elevate moods, store memories, rehabilitate those suffering from dementia, and much more. I've entered the EMDT program at Full Sail University with the premise that the majority of music stored in one's "Soundtrack of their Life" thus far, has predominantly been mainstream music. Hence, this blog is all about collecting the most impacting and memorable music to chart the almighty Billboard top 100! 

Q: When a listener hears a piece of music in an idiom with which he/she is familiar, what cognitive structures (or mental representations) does he/she construct in response to the music?
A: These cognitive structures can be called the listener’s understanding of the music – what the listener unconsciously constructs in response to the music, beyond hearing it just as a stream of sound.


The study of music's impact on the human brain is nothing new, with the long known profession of music therapy and the latest research in Dr. Oliver Sack's acclaimed book Musicophelia revealing the power of music's ability to transcend language in our mind to the point of hallucination. However, the study still remains groundbreaking as new discoveries are continually being made, such as last year's discovery of the brain hub that actually links music, memory and emotion.

When people are familiar with a tune, their brains show increased activity in the regions shaded in green in this fMRI image. Red areas respond to salient autobiographical memories, and blue areas respond to tunes that a person enjoys. The brain region known as the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex responds both to familiarity and autobiographical associations (yellow). (Credit: Petr Janata/UC Davis)

In his latest book Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, released last year, Antonio Damasio dubs humans as "feeling machines that think". He highlights the human sense of 'autobiography' and 'culture' in which, "we can look back at our past in great detail including the places we have lived, a variety of events that are very marked, and we can create a memory of our anticipated future." In addition, Damasio also inferred regulation of an individual's life within a social group begins through our sense of culture.

Our culture is the 21st century, an era where we have achieved a beautiful musical convergence through all formats. It wasn't until I entered high school in 2001 that I actually started avidly listening to mainstream music and becoming drawn toward American pop culture. I'm a first generation American whose conservative parents primarily appreciated and glorified Indian music and tradition, hence my late awareness of our country's soothing array of artistry.

Since 2001, I've elevated my passion for music by...

Rapping to "Carpe Diem" at the 2004 THC benefit
· Keeping track and staying up to date on the best and most acclaimed music of every year, as well learning about mainstream music from the 20th century.
· Composing and performing original songs for The Happiness Club, a not-for-profit group of Chicago youth dedicated to using media and music to sing out against drugs, gangs, violence, and climate change, and say, "yes" to education, tolerance, and high self-esteem
·  Taking rigorous music, piano, and chorus classes at Merit Music, a not-for-profit organization providing high quality music education to Chicago children of all ages and all levels of musical ability.
· Graduating from Loyola University Chicago with my B.A. in Communication Studies and working at Loyola's college radio station WLUW-88.7fm as an audio/video producer

Producing episode 2 for Chicago Web Scene
At Loyola University's new convergence studio

......Actually, I departed from WLUW in December 2010, but my experience with WLUW, I must say, has been very gratifying and unique, for it has expanded my knowledge on indie music, a format I knew absolutely nothing about prior to 2010. Regardless, in each of these experiences that have built and shaped my musical virtuoso this past decade, I come forth now as an intrigued scientist on the capacity of 21st century music in regards to obtaining a peaceful mind. In addition to investigating this fascinating correlation, my deeper goal is to use my aesthetic skills in interactive media to deliver innovative and powerful media to share my findings and help the world achieve their highest potential in sustaining this peaceful mind.

In the future blog entries to come, I'll share my research of the songs that I grew up to that are ever so stained on my memory, and new popular music that are hitting the charts and potentially creating new memories within us all.

Til next time,

Neurological fact: "The brain stem, cerebral cortex and memory act in unison in the complex mental process that tells us who we are and generate the feelings that are at the heart of being conscious" -- Antonio Damasio