Web curations: Music-related (24 June)

Music Town


Andrew WK breaks the world record for longest drum session in a retail store – His facial expression in the article’s photo is priceless!

Spotify’s top anxiety-reducing tunes – Forget Philippians 4:6-8, here’s Spotify and anxiety psychologist Dr Becky Spelman’s 15-song playlist to calm the nerves (by being at 60 beats per minute, and “stimulating both sides of the brain”). Sure, listening to Adele could make you less anxious… unless you’re going through a breakup perhaps…

Why music makes your brain sing – Two neuroscientists share some of their insights into why music brings a unique pleasure to humans…

When pleasurable music is heard, dopamine is released in the striatum – an ancient part of the brain found in other vertebrates as well – which is known to respond to naturally rewarding stimuli like food and sex and which is artificially targeted by drugs like cocaine and amphetamine.

But what may be most interesting here is  when  this neurotransmitter is released: not only when the music rises to a peak emotional moment, but also several seconds before, during what we might call the anticipation phase.

The idea that reward is partly related to anticipation (or the prediction of a desired outcome) has a long history in neuroscience. Making good predictions about the outcome of one’s actions would seem to be essential in the context of survival, after all. And dopamine neurons, both in humans and other animals, play a role in recording which of our predictions turn out to be correct.

Singles define the modern music business – The album vs. singles argument used to dominate music industry discussions. But Jay Frank argues that in 2013, it’s pretty much singles that define today’s music business. He says:

The album still has a vital place in the overall diverse revenue stream for an artist. But its power has diminished so greatly that for most artists it is no longer relevant. When you look at usage patterns on radio, television, online and on portable devices, it’s clear that the pathway to the hearts, minds and wallets of music fans is thru the single.

Music, singing and emotions: what are the connections?  – SMBC Lecturer Rob Smith has a very thorough paper published in Themelios, addressing the connections between music, singing and emotions.  This is more a personal bookmark for me to read the entire article at some stage (Greg Strand sums it up here). I do like the concluding statement:

I think we can and must say this: if it is important enough to be said, then it  could  (and in the right manner, time and place  should) also be sung. Why? Because singing helps us to process and express not only the cognitive dimensions of truth but also the emotive dimensions as well. Such are the God-ordained connections between music, singing and the emotions.


“Music has a secret and incredible power to move our hearts. When evil words are accompanied by music, they penetrate more deeply and the poison enters as wine through a funnel into a vat.”

– John Calvin