When I began working at The Dana Foundation two months ago, I thought I was joining a company that was poles apart from my previous work, managing public relations for a well-known electric guitar manufacturer. But, I’ve found that there is more of a connection between these two seemingly divergent worlds than I realized.
For musical artists, the music they create on their instruments is a form of spirituality and creativity. At my past job, I learned the concept of finding “the one,” that special instrument that would give a musician these divine abilities. The number of turns of electrical wire around an electromagnetic pickup, tweaking of the bridge or changing the types of wood used, when finally plugged into an amplifier, all contributed to bringing to life “the axe of divinity.” The guitarist and his fans were brought the place where their primal and spiritual cores were affected
Like most people, I have felt the affects of music on the body. A bass guitar was cranked so loudly at a concert that it actually affected my heart rhythms to the point I had to leave the arena to catch my breath. Some music will always cause my eyes naturally to fill with tears.
Here, one of the foundation’s great interests is brain science, including explaining how human experience (such as listening to music, playing music) influences human biology (greater calmness, reawakened memories, vigor, happiness). That’s not so far removed from the pitches I made for those great guitars.
Had This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (see our review in Cerebrum) been read by managers at the guitar company, its description of the connections between music and the brain probably would have helped them devise ways to increase sales.
-- Laura Rausch