(potentially excessive) Musings on the voice for a forward-thinking world

the thinker

          Science and Music have never stood in outward opposition, and yet there has been an almost tangible polarity between the two academic circles. For example, the reaction I get when I tell people my undergrad is in Science and Music is often one of perplexity. It’s not that one field devalues the other; it’s just that one is happy over here, and one is happy over there… perhaps even enjoying each other from afar. I am happy to say however, that the tide appears to be changing; as more people are beginning to appreciate how interconnected these two fields really are.

          Enter The VoiceNotes.

          I have to admit that when choosing my post-secondary field of study, I did feel that there was a decision to be made between a future in Science or Music. However, I quickly discovered a way to incorporate both into my academic life. I began to consider the implications of one field on the other, and a surge of inquiry ensued!

          Often when a person is first learning how to sing, there is a more metaphorical approach that encourages thinking in images and feelings rather than practical understanding. For example, a singer is often (but not always) taught to think about a “column of air” before they are taught about the anatomical components that are the foundation for proper breathing techniques. (While I would argue that in my experience, understanding the shape, location, and function of the diaphragm and other components important to breathing can change a singer’s breathing instantaneously).

          In addition to many possible practical anatomy examples, Science can explore the neurobiological changes that cause us to respond to both listening and making music in particular ways. Just in the past decade, there have probably been about a hundred books published on the topic of music and the brain. Then there are the physiological changes (hormones, blood flow, cell growth, etc), and how they explain the extreme changes affecting the voice during development or even pregnancy.

          So in a very brief summary, those are some ways in which Science can impact our understanding of the voice and Music. But what about the potentially less obvious way that Music can impact our understanding of Science?

          Singing has been around for several thousand years, and has played a pivotal role in the development of societies and cultures as a whole. In this way, Social Sciences such as Anthropology and Sociology have benefited greatly from the development of music over time and its uses. I know, I know, it seems like a cop-out to discuss Social Sciences alone when discussing the impact of Music on Science, so I won’t leave it at that.

          The inclusion of Music in societies teaches an important lesson: Music is at the core of human nature, and thus has much to teach us about the evolution of our species. For example, no matter the culture, a child’s call for “Mom-my” is inevitably heard in a two-tone decent all around the world. Our brains also seem to be hardwired for music. This is often exploited when teaching concepts to children who appear to find it easier to remember something that has been sung, rather than something that has just simply been stated.

          The list goes on and on, but there is an important message to take away from these brief musings: It’s time to push the limits of our thinking and embrace the true potential of the collaboration between Science and Music.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>