August 30, 2015

Core human experience: How do you feel?!

Core affect - how do you feel


What if music didn’t exist?

“Yikes.. I can’t believe, in years of playing and teaching music, I never asked myself that question.”

“When we were talking about music as the brain’s language,” Eden said, “I wondered, if it is that deep, what does it say about us. That’s when I thought of the experiment: What is left after you take music away? I was thinking it is an idea that could be researched.”

“Well I know of some research about music and the brain,” I said, “but nothing like that. What a great idea. Maybe we can do it ourselves — we’ll have to get funding    : ) ”

(Dynamic musical communication of core affect – Nicole K Flaig & Edward W Large)

“Imagine what it would be like if all the influences,” said Eden, “of a music that never existed, had been removed from the world, and from your brain.”

[This thought experiment gets to the heart of core being. Even if I am not personally interested in music, I still find it difficult to imagine a world experience in which all the results of musical activity never happened: no ancient drums, no flutes, no Miles Davis. No neural circuits for playing, hearing, or imagining music.]

(Action, music, and the brain,  in The evolution of music and human social capability – Jay Schulkin & Greta B. Raglan)
“It sounds like an acoustic guitar blended with electric guitar sound, ” Eden said.

“Your hearing is sophisticated.”

“It is?”

“Yes, you have a music arranger’s ear for timbral detail, the kind of skill you could use in music recording. It is a strong point of yours.”

“Hmm.. I see. That reminds me then, I was thinking that talent is only part of the picture, and just working on something over time can accomplish what seemed unattainable.

“A lot of people in the coming generation revere great artists’ work,” Eden said, “without ever imagining it would be possible to do something as great. But somebody has to do it!

[Right? In this context, we also talked about decentralizing the idea of talent. There are standouts in every field, but “the field” is the commons — eg, music belongs to everyone, as language does, without regard to talent. This kind of decentralizing trend is happening in the arts, business, and fields of learning.]
“Play a low E, Eden..

“Sounds good… It’s vibrating 80 times a second, sending meaning directly to your brain, in the brain’s own neurodynamic language of vibration. It is directly affecting your core affect, how good you feel and how aroused you are.”

“I do actually feel something, in my head,” said Eden, “but I can’t explain what it is.”

“Right, it has a meaning, but what is it? It’s not like saying ‘Pass the salt’.”

“I can’t explain it in words, but I experienced the ‘?!‘ feeling, like the emotive symbol you see in social media comments. You don’t know what to think of it logically but it’s exciting…”

[Based on experience, and on recent research, my working assumption is that functionally and neurobiologically, emotion is the leading edge of thought. And that music speaks within and among brains, in the brain’s own language of frequencies, and directly to our core human experience.]
“The brain named itself,” Eden said. “All this brain talk reminded me.. Yeah. The brain named itself!”

“The brain did name itself, and you are getting us close to deep philosophical and neurobiological questions, and dangerously close to biosemiotics. But we still have to learn to play I Wanna Get Better

“It’s in E, the Mother Key on the guitar..”

[Thank you Eden, for this collaboration.]

The Music That Never Was experiment could be approached experientially in a virtuereal exploration environment. So could an organizational problem-solving initiative. In all cases, human engagement is the hallmark of a Sceenius experience.
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