My distractions

Why you love music

This book was a fun listen (I listened to the audiobook version). I learned a lot about the science behind music, how and why instruments sound different, and some psychology behind music.

Music can be broken up into Genre Categories:

Enjoying Music:

As we listen to music, we enjoy musical surprises as long as they are not too surprising and we like surprises we have heard before. I think this is true in all things, from books, to movies, to friends, jokes, etc.

The book describes how music affects people. Listening to calm favorite music can help us sleep.

Regarding background music:

Regarding musical talent:

Practice makes a good musician. The more you practice, the better you get. The best musicians spent more time practicing. The biggest difference between skills of music students is how much solo practice they have done. The excellent students had on average 7410 hrs by age 18, compared with 5301hrs by good students, and 3420 hrs by the ordinary students. This supports the 10,000 hour idea of expertness.

It is important to do deliberate practice. This is not fun, so is more rare. To become an expert, it is important to both spend time and practice deliberately.

Rules of a standard melody (observational):

  1. Most tunes are written in a major key
  2. Most tunes start on the key note
  3. Most tunes rise before falling to the key note again
  4. Tunes generally involve a lot of small jumps in pitch and very few large jumps
  5. A small step down in pitch is usually followed by another small step down
  6. If a big step is made, it will likely be upwards
  7. After a big step, the next step will likely be smaller in the other direction
  8. There is a pecking order in how often the different notes is a key are used:
    1. The key note and 5th note are quite frequent
    2. The note just below the key note is quite rare
  9. The key note and the 5th note are often used at points of rhythmic emphasis
  10. Notes at point in melodic change in direction, will often be emphasized rhythmically
  11. Melody will usually only have one example of its highest note

These rules are not helpful to write music, but serve to describe western music.

How we categorize in life to help us stay alive:

This is used to enjoy music. We look for similarities in new music, how melodies and harmonies work together, where they are headed and if they diverge...

The music we hear is often out of tune:

The author went into a fascinating section describing limitations on frequency and instrumentation to make perfect pitch and timber. He described well how our senses fill in the blanks to make music sound good!

Our three types of memory:

  1. Short Term Memory - Storage over last few seconds (like 7 things at one time - keys have about 7 notes in them)
  2. Long Term Memory - Storage over long time with some errors (makes sense of short term memory by comparing to long term storage)
  3. Working Memory - Where short term memory is processed and pattern recognition skills are used

Memory helps us enjoy music. With new music, our brains are using new information and comparing to long term memory to make predictions of how the music will be. This can result in accurate expectations, surprise expectations, or disappointing expectations.

We can influence our mental state through music:

The common pop four chord song progression:

C Maj - G Maj - A min - F Maj


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