Category Archives: Music

mp3 = (potentially) bad for you

hearingScience has (again) caught up with what we knew all along. Listening to low-quality compressed music is not good for you. Specifically a  study by the Audio Engineering Society on the effects of lossy compression on the ‘timbre spaces’ of a variety of instruments has found that listening to low bit-rate bilge boosts negative emotions (scary, sad etc) and kicks the legs from underneath positive ones (happy, calm, heroic etc).

Sounds like a good reason to keep your inner emo under control and go for FLAC or insist on 320kbps downloads.

Music Is Good For The Brain

colorful-music-notes-symbols-14363-1Heads up to the good people at gear4music.com whose news section alerted me to The Grauniad’s piece on how music beats all those tedious “brain training” apps and software.

The piece talks about software companies having their asses sued for being economical with the truth about their products boosting brain power. Hmm, wonder if the TrumpistaBrexiteers have been investing in such software?

On similar lines 9 Ways Learning An Instrument Strengthens Your Brain spells out in detail the benefits for all – from babies to those recovering from stroke, from multi-taskers to mindful individualists.

Bottom line: playing and learning to play musical instruments produces long-lasting cognitive grooviness in the brain. Tune on, tune up and get jamming.

 

Music projects

studioPlenty of activity in the studio at the moment – I’m about about a third of the way into a new ambient instrumental album, with another couple of instrumental pieces on the back burner. Where’s a lottery win when you need to buy more time?

Music has the edge for relaxation

guitarVerbally led relaxation exercises are a good way to achieve a relaxed state of mind and a healthy state of body – which is why they are often used in situations such as antenatal classes. According toresearch in the German Medical Association’s journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, however, music therapy has been found to be even more effective in improving the health of palliative care patients. Medical Daily cites that music of all sorts was reported by patients as boosting levels of relaxation and well-being. The self-reports were corroborated by researchers using physiological measurements in a double-blind trial.

YouTube post: Ska’d Midlands (Für H)

Hot from the iTunes visualizer window: The latest YouTube music video is posted here. It’s also available on SoundCloud in higher quality audio.

What’s it about? It was a commission for a birthday present. On SoundCloud it’s described as: Take a dash of Ska rhythmic structure, season with variations of Beethoven’s Für Elise, add some Two Tone West Midlands homage, top with selected character traits and you have a piece written for and about someone for their birthday.

On YouTube it’s described thusly: A bit of Beethoven, a sprinkling of Ska structure, seasoned with the essence of a real person – Happy Birthday H. Cooked with Logic Pro X instruments, Alchemy, Native Instruments and Roland Integra-7.

Enjoy…

Binaural on the go

Intel is in the process of making smartphone chips that are binaural audio friendly. The Inquirer  reported: “We tested the technology in the form of some earphones that look like they had been worn by a million other people. Nevertheless, it revealed how a video comprising different actions, such as a hand clap, can manipulate your brain to think the sound is coming from the room you are in through this realistic Binaural audio technology.”

Could be useful for making binaural beat technology even more effective at altering brainwave frequencies. At the very least, it should make for more immersive soundscapes on the go, whether that’s for pure pleasure or as background for meditation.

Closing your eyes and creative relaxation

I often use binaural beat technology in my audio recordings to help people experience relaxation more deeply and easily.

Binaural sound, creating 3D landscapes in a listener’s inner ear, is something that crops up in the news every now and then. The BBC did some broadcast experiments back in 2013, and now it’s getting some more attention in the fields of advertising and entertainment.

Binaural sound is this year incorporated into virtual reality headsets used by South Africa Tourism UK to foster an immersive experience  of heightened suggestivity, that is not a million miles away from standard hypnosis work that involves creating inner alternative realities for therapeutic purposes. Instead of selling a patient a new and healthier vision of themselves, the VR headset sells five-minute taster sessions of holiday packages, including diving with sharks and abseiling down Table Mountain as well as a less-adrenalin intense experiencing of street food, music and wine.

The ability of sound to induce vivid inner realities is also relevant to the theatre. The Stage  reports on the use of audio technology by director David Rosenberg, and sound designers Ben & Max Ringham. In an interview, the trio discuss how they’ve used sound to create immersive realities for audiences over the years and how much more effective the technique is when used in darkness.

This makes sense from a hypnosis and relaxation perspective – eyes-closed relaxation enables more attention to be paid to aural inputs such as music, sound effects and the spoken word, while also enabling the creation of inner landscapes with their own visual, auditory and kinaesthetic dimensions.