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Phil's musical life :

See PhilsMusic for my personal musical creations, projects and tastes.


: Good stuff. But is OutKast's B.O.B. actually an "anti-war" song?

:: heck yes it is! find the version that they do with Zack de la Rocha from RageAgainstTheMachineMarkDilley

Quora Answer : For the majority of people, why does music evoke stronger emotions than nearly every other form of art?

Feb 3

Most of human cognition is based on vision.

Vision is extremely important to humans. We use our eyes for many things. (Whereas compared to most animals we don't use smell very much.) A large portion of the human brain is visual cortex dedicated to visual processing.

However, humans have an evolutionary history as predators, which means our eyes are on the front of our heads and vision is controlled by attention. We have to look at something to really see it. And if we don't want to see it, we can look away, close our eyes etc.

Vision is very much under our control. Something we have agency with respect to. And, more importantly, feel we have agency with respect to.

The same is not true for sound.

Unlike bats, we don't use sound attentionally, to track prey.

Instead we use sound largely for two things.

To monitor our environment and alert us to possible danger.

And to communicate via speech.

That makes our audial experience very different from our visual one.

We need to be continuously alert to sound, allowing it to interrupt us at any moment, whatever else we are paying attention to, as it might be an alert, warning us of danger. But because speech is also a valuable and complex intellectual activity, sound needs fast access to engage a lot of our cognitive machinery too. If someone shouts an instruction at us unexpectedly, we need to not only note the interruption, but that interruption needs a fast track to the whole cognitive apparatus sufficient to decode the meaning of the speech.

Our experience of sound, therefore, is completely different from our experience of sight. Sound is continually on and we have to monitor it whether we like it or not. We feel very little agency or control over it, because we always need to be alert to it. And interruptions immediately have to hijack our attention from whatever else we are doing and force us to understand. Finally, weird sounds are probably dangerous, and require us to be immediately ready to fight or flee.

This is why music is so powerfully affecting and emotional. And why music we don't want to listen to is so intrusive and stressful. If we dislike a painting or film, it's easy to just not watch it. To refuse to pay attention or consume it.

With music, if it's in our vicinity, our brains can't help but be paying attention to and trying to interpret it. If it's music we like, then that activity itself is relaxing and reassuring. The sounds fit a pattern we are already familiar with. They tell us things are going predictably (and therefore OK).

OTOH, if the sounds are new and confusing, they put us on edge, and demand our brains work extra hard, trying to make sense of them. And we not only don't have an option to ignore it, but we feel that lack of agency. It's an extra misery to us.



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