Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

20 AUGUST, 2009

Music Spotlight: This Must Be The Place


Axe-swinging, rope-jumping, or what David Byrne and Christian Bale have in common.

We love David Byrne. (Heck, he even has his own tag around here.) And we love remix culture. So, naturally, we’re all over actor-slash-singer Miles Fisher‘s electro-pop cover of The Talking Heads’ This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody), in the video for which Fisher recreates scenes from iconic film culture hallmark American Psycho.

The cover is a free download on Fisher’s site and comes as a promo for his self-titled EP, which compensates for its — we’re sorry to say — lack of depth with incredible catchiness of the can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head variety.

Not a bad trade-off on a hot summer day.

14 AUGUST, 2009

Remastered, Reinvented, Reimagined: Record Club


What Iceland, Andy Warhol, and a dying goose have in common.

Creativity is often the art of reinvention — combining known ideas in novel ways, putting a new spin on something old, pushing the exiting to a new frontier. Add an element of creative collaboration, and it becomes pure genius. And that’s exactly what music wunderkind Beck does in his latest project, Record Club.

This summer, Beck took the legendary Velvet Underground & Nico album (yes, that one…) and decided to invite a few friends — from actor Giovanni Ribisi to recording engineer and producer Nigel Godrich — to record cover versions of the full album in a single day.

The tracks, accompanied by trippy, minimalist video remixes of the studio sessions, are then posted on the Record Club website in daily installments.

Our favorite is the cover of “Run, Run, Run,” where the wonderful Icelandic up-and-comer Throunn Magnusdottir gives Nico a run for the money in a brilliant duet with Beck himself.

Another gem is the dreamy cover of the iconic “Sunday Morning,” both whimsically mellow and reverberating with quiet exuberance. And for “Venus In Furs“, arguably the first “goth” song ever recorded, they mustered an appropriately kinky cover involving a sitar and a flute bought on the street in Japan, fondly referred to as “the dying goose.”

Explore Record Club and appreciate the potent cocktail of some of today’s most powerful culture-drivers — retro revival, creative collaboration and the evolution of music production and distribution beyond record labels.

via Very Short List

07 AUGUST, 2009

Notes & Neurons: Music, Emotion and the Brain


From axons to a cappella, or why music gives us chills and thrills.

Music is easily the widest-reaching, most universal emotional facilitator. Anecdotally, it shapes so many of life’s everyday experiences: An epic movie would fall flat without a cinematic soundtrack, a party without dance music is unthinkable, and a run without an upbeat playlist feels somehow much more tiresome. Scientifically, music has been shown to impact anything from our alertness and relaxation to our memory to our physical and emotional well-being.

Today, we take a look at just how music affects our brain and emotion, with Notes & Neurons: In Search of a Common Chorus — a fascinating event from the 2009 World Science Festival.

But before we launch into the geekier portion, here’s a quick improvised treat from phenomenal jazz and a cappella performer Bobby McFerrin, who embodies the intimate relationship between music and the human element.

The panel — hosted by John Schaefer and featuring Jamshed Barucha, scientist Daniel Levitin, Professor Lawrence Parsons and Bobby McFerrin — takes us through a series of live performances and demonstrations that illustrate music’s interaction with the brain and our emotions, exploring some of the most interesting questions about this incredible phenomenon.

Is our response to music hard-wired or culturally determined? Is the reaction to rhythm and melody universal or influenced by environment?

We encourage you to see the full Notes & Neurons: In Search of a Common Chorus program, or snack on some more digestible bites over at World Science Festival’s Vimeo channel.

And while we’re at it, we highly recommend neuroscientist Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain — an utterly fascinating read about the extreme effect music can have on our cognitive and emotional lives.

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