Are musicians born or made?

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PostWed Apr 04, 2012 9:18 pm » by Phoenix rising


MELBOURNE — Neil McLachlan says he wants to do for music what Apple did for the personal computer.

For over two decades, the scientist, artist and university professor has worked to increase music participation.

“Only five per cent of people (in the West) who go through tertiary music education end up playing music,” the University of Melbourne associate professor said.

“On the whole, music education has created an elitism around music performance that has caused the normal person to feel that they can’t play,” he said.

McLachlan works in a multidisciplinary team at the university’s Music, Mind and Wellbeing (MMW) Center, an initiative that aims to understand the relationship between our brains and music.

“Music is to mental health what sport is to physical health” is a tagline often employed by McLachlan when talking about music education.

McLachlan is now in the process of designing an ensemble of new instruments (four so far have been patented) that he claims anyone (even non-musicians) can play within an hour of starting.

Still in prototype phase, the percussion instruments (bells, drums, gongs etc.) produce clear and harmonious sounds and are designed to be played individually or put together like a whole orchestra.

The new musical instruments are an extension of the remarkable Federation Bells, a giant sound installation featuring 39 upturned bells that are played via computer (MIDI) controlled hammers.

Developed by McLachlan in 2000 for the centenary celebrations of Australia’s Federation, the Federation Bells are the first percussion instruments in history to have harmonic overtones.

After achieving this sound design breakthrough, McLachlan started thinking about how much more affordable instruments could be designed.

The engineering design question inevitably led him to a neurobiological question about music: “How do we know what is a good musical sound?”

In 2006, McLachlan teamed up with Associate Professor Sarah Wilson from the School of Psychological Sciences, to carry out neuroscience research into how our brains received and processed sound.

McLachlan and Wilson’s research led then to develop a revolutionary new theory of how the auditory system works. This new theory proposes that animals first recognize the sound sources before processing other features such as the sound’s pitch or location.

“This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view because the most important thing an animal needs to know is whether they can hear predators or preys,” McLachlan explained. “It also makes sense from an information processing point of view because we can use prior experience to adapt our hearing to new circumstances.”

Since sound recognition involves developing long-term memories for sounds, this theory helps to explain why different individuals can have such different reactions to sound, especially music.

Prototypes of the new harmonic gongs.
To test this even further, McLachlan conducted a controlled study involving the Indonesian gamelan, a percussion instrument known to sound dissonant to the Western ear.

In the gamelan study, one group of Western musicians who had learnt to play gamelan instruments were asked to find the pitch in those instruments. Another group of Western musicians who had never encountered the gamelan were asked to do the same.

The results revealed that people who played the gamelan could find the pitch of the gamelan instruments very accurately and found it to be quite harmonious, whereas, the Western musicians who were untrained in the gamelan could not.

The study demonstrated that the perception of pitch, harmony, scale and rhythm are learnt within particular musical cultures, which suggests that musical structures are not physically or biologically determined.

“We can recognize sounds because that’s what we have to do in the real world, but to accurately pitch sound requires training,” McLachlan said.

This refined pitch processing is very involved, but according to McLaclan and Wilson, we all have the ability to build up these memories for sound — neuroscientists refer to this ability as ‘brain plasticity.’

The study is a revelation for many people who have long held the belief that there are some people who are simply born with the ability for music.

McLachlan hopes that this new-found insight into our auditory system, along with his new instruments, will increase music participation and make playing music something ordinary people do as regular as exercise.

Personally being a music producer myself have often asked myself where the creativity flows from, sometimes I just have the melody in my head waiting for this body to process it via the hardware, other times I think its a manifestation of life experiences coming out in a creative form, all the same this is definitely food for fought.... one of my tracks to a video I edited...
[youtube]Qs7Rj2v3gqQ&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

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PostWed Apr 04, 2012 9:22 pm » by Noentry


I can tell you for sure I have zero musical ability.
Born that way.
I got a good ear for music but if I try to hit a note I sound like the cats in the alleyway at the back of my house.
"The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority.
The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority.
The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking."
A. A. Milne

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PostWed Apr 04, 2012 9:26 pm » by Phoenix rising


noentry wrote:I can tell you for sure I have zero musical ability.
Born that way.
I got a good ear for music but if I try to hit a note I sound like the cats in the alleyway at the back of my house.

:lol: :lol: from the age of 14 I just knew I wanted to be a musician, I am not a natural thought I really had to work hard at it :cheers:
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PostWed Apr 04, 2012 9:40 pm » by E6722maj


i think creative musicality is something you either innately have, or you don't. although a certain degree of technical ability can probably be learned by anyone

.
whatever

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PostWed Apr 04, 2012 11:07 pm » by Stevestv65


I think that you can be what you want to be,nobody is born a musician !
You are a product of your environment,just ask Charles Darwin!
i am a musician and so was my dad,it helps if you have a musical family, check out them jacksons! :owned:
The line must be drawn here! This far, no farther!

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PostWed Apr 04, 2012 11:14 pm » by Malogg


Ahahaha rock on :love:
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PostWed Apr 04, 2012 11:22 pm » by Electrobadgr


There is no doubt some people are naturally gifted, however i font think its a blavk and white question as the OP suggests. You know how when you really try to do something you just cant do it, yet when you 'zone out' an dont really try things can be effortless? Its hard to descibe but kids in particular dont doubt themselves until they have aquired the appropriate neurosis. I think we all have the same potential...
"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly. time-y wimey... stuff." - The Doctor

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PostThu Apr 05, 2012 12:01 am » by Stevestv65


Science Quotes by Charles Darwin

...conscience looks backwards and judges past actions, inducing that kind of dissatisfaction, which if weak we call regret, and if severe remorse.
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PostThu Apr 05, 2012 12:59 am » by Jbtenney


being a musician, i can honestly tell you that most ppl really take for granted to time, work and discipline involved to craft your art. it is a gift to be able to do it, but i think that if anyone has the passion (talent), they can. the drive to sit there for hours, day, months and years and practice and study something over and over without getting frustrated, bored or feel like giving up is talent. ....the problem though is that most listeners don't educate themselves on any musical level and have no idea what they are hearing. but.... at the same time, art is art and i don't think that one musician is better than the other as long as they are both passionate about what they do.


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PostThu Apr 05, 2012 2:03 am » by Cornbread714


jbtenney wrote:being a musician, i can honestly tell you that most ppl really take for granted to time, work and discipline involved to craft your art. it is a gift to be able to do it, but i think that if anyone has the passion (talent), they can. the drive to sit there for hours, day, months and years and practice and study something over and over without getting frustrated, bored or feel like giving up is talent. ....the problem though is that most listeners don't educate themselves on any musical level and have no idea what they are hearing. but.... at the same time, art is art and i don't think that one musician is better than the other as long as they are both passionate about what they do.


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Wow!

Beautiful playing - really awesome technique. Thanks for sharing that and I agree with everything you said.

I think everyone has a musical spirit, but for myself it took years of hard work to be able to truly express myself on an instrument. I certainly believe some are born with a certain gift, but if you really love music and are willing to put in the time, there's no end to what can be discovered.

And that's one of the best things about it - there's always more to learn.
Where's the beer and when do I get paid?
- Jimmy Carl Black (the Indian of the group)


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