It’s quite shiny.
The Institute of Neurology, UCL are looking for male professional classical guitarists or pianists, aged 30-65 to put through an MRI. A 2 hour study. I’ve done this sort of thing before and it’s bloody interesting. Expenses + anecdotes. Here are the details:
For pianists aged 30-65yrs: study using state of the art MRI techniques that aims to reveal how your brain achieves such high levels of motor performance.
* Neurologists and neuroscientists at the Institute of Neurology, London are currently recruiting for an imaging project in which they will study the neural signature of piano performance and excellence of fine finger control.
* This study uses a new fMRI analysis technique that allows us for the first time to accurately map individual fingers to different parts of the brain. This figure shows the activation of one the fingers in a region called the motor cortex in a healthy control … we do not know how this differs in pianists ….
* We ask for 2 hours of your time. We understand that we are ambitious to invite a group of individuals that are phenomenally busy with performance demands and teaching and hope to offer appointment times that are convenient for you. We can pay all travel costs and will also reveal all from the data we get in the study….
* We are also examining pianists that develop dystonia of the hand which will increase knowledge about this poorly understood condition and improve existing treatment techniques.
* Please contact Dr Anna Sadnicka if you are interested in hearing more about this study (0203 4488605 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
I thought I’d use this platform to share with you some of the great work my students are doing together with some commentary addressing compositional technique. Here’s the first of many to come.
As part of one of my coursework portfolios, I offered my talented and creative students at Surrey the option to rework a Beatles track. Beyond a cover or remix, the brief was to reinterpret and/or electronically deconstruct/reconstruct musical materials from any Beatles track. There was some great work such as Em Bollon’s modal reinterpretation of ‘Here Comes The Sun’
Remodalisation (invented term) is the technique of translating melodic and/or harmonic material into a parallel mode (set of notes or scale). The original track’s major tonality (with some modal interchange and secondary dominants) is really effectively (and intuitively) reinterpreted into mixolydian and dorian ideas, blended with electronic japery. Quite lovely.
It’s tempting to think that it’s only the domain of modernist composers, theorists and ethnomusicologists to talk of anything but 12 notes in an octave. After all if it was good enough for Mozart and Beethoven it should be good for everyone, right? Well, as it happens, Mozart and Beethoven understood F# and G-flat as different notes. A manuscript survives for example of Mozart’s teaching notes to his English student Thomas Attwood showing the difference between a major semitone (e.g. E to F) and a minor semitone (Fb to F). Almost universally considered as identical today, in his they were pitched slightly differently.
Very few musicians are aware that even into the 19th century fingerboard diagrams and scale exercises existed with two types of accidental (e.g. g# as distinct from a-flat) as well as keyboards with split keys so that the player could choose between accidental types.
It’s remarkable how efficiently this has been filtered out of the system so that even professional classical musicians and teachers – let alone students – are unaware of our microtonal recent history.
A diagram demonstrating a section of the huge modal universe. You may see how mirroring modes (turning them upside down) can organize them into levels of brightness. It can also identify those modes that are identical in mirror form. These include Dorian (used in a thousand tunes from Scarborough Fair, Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Brick House to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy), Aeolian Dominant (Babooshka) and Double Harmonic (Miserlou from Pulp Fiction).
These are just 3 of the heptatonic even-tempered modes with mirror symmetry parents. There are many others, scales with 2-12 notes, as well as scales with ‘twin’ mode systems. Regardless this technique can be applied widely and is a rich resource for composers and improvisers alike.