Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

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jserraglio
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Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by jserraglio » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:54 am

ClassicFM — Brains of jazz and classical musicians work differently, study reveals
1 June 2018


https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/ja ... ns-brains/

The brain activity of jazz musicians is substantially different from that of classical musicians, even when they're playing the same piece of music.

A study published by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in January found that musicians who work in the two fields demonstrate substantially different brain activity, even when they're playing the same music.

The research could help explain why musicians seem to excel in one or other style, and not usually in both.

The study outlines two steps in playing the piano: what the pianist is going to play – meaning the keys they press – and how they are going to play – which fingers they should use.

Classical pianists tend to focus on the second step – the 'how'. This means their focus is on technique and the personal expression they add to the piece.

Jazz pianists on the other hand focus on the ‘what’, meaning they are always prepared to improvise and adapt the notes they're playing.

The study included 30 professional pianists, half of whom were jazz players and half of whom were classical.

Both groups were shown a hand playing a sequence of chords on a screen. The sequence was scattered with mistakes in harmonies and fingering. The pianists had to imitate the hand movements and react to the irregularities, while their brain signals were recorded with sensors on their head.

The study found that different processes occurred in the brains of the jazz and classical pianists. In particular, the jazz pianists' brains began re-planning sooner than the classical pianists' brains.

The study found the classical pianists concentrated on the fingering and technique of their playing, while the jazz pianists were more prepared to change the notes they played to improvise and adapt their playing to create unexpected harmonies.

“In the jazz pianists we found neural evidence for this flexibility in planning harmonies when playing the piano”, says researcher Roberta Bianco.

“When we asked them to play a harmonically unexpected chord within a standard chord progression, their brains started to re-plan the actions faster than classical pianists. Accordingly, they were better able to react and continue their performance.”

However, the classical pianists performed better than the jazz group when it came to following unusual fingering. Their brains showed more awareness of the fingering, and as a result they made fewer errors while playing.

The researchers concluded that switching between jazz and classical styles of music can be a challenge, even for musicians with decades of experience.

They quoted jazz pianist Keith Jarrett, who was once asked in an interview whether he’d like to do a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: “No, that's hilarious,” he said. “It’s [because of] the circuitry. Your system demands different circuitry for either of those two things.”

Find out more about the study here. http://www.cbs.mpg.de/brains-of-jazz-an ... ifferently

John F
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Re: Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by John F » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:07 am

You mean jazz musicians have brains? <ducking and running>
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by jserraglio » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:07 am

John F wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:07 am
You mean jazz musicians have brains? <ducking and running>
Admittedly their advanced operating system may go unrecognized by standard-issue headware.

jbuck919
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Re: Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:49 am

John F wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:07 am
You mean jazz musicians have brains? <ducking and running>
Well, it has been said that jazz pianists who seem to have fabulous techniques still get to pick the notes they play. This sounds like something of a variation on that. Also, I once knew someone in Columbia MD who had hired a very famous jazz pianist (I can't remember which one but at the time even I recognized the name) to play for one of his important marital anniversaries. One of the contractual requirements is that there be an unlimited supply of whiskey available to him while the man played.

Then, to be fair in a journalistic sense, in college I once heard Peter Serkin, then 25, who came on stage (and played adequately) obviously stoned. It didn't help that he played a Bach concerto on the piano, something that even then I could not stand or understand.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by jserraglio » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:56 am





maestrob
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Re: Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by maestrob » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:18 am

.......and then there is Keith Jarrett, who recorded lots of Bach, including both books of the WTC and the Goldbergs, etc., as well as the Shostakovich 24 Preludes and Fugues. Not as scintillating as, say, Richter, but impressive nonetheless!

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Re: Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:56 pm

Interesting study. I have personally known some pianists who enjoyed playing either classical or jazz ... Peter Serkin, who has self-admitted this, Jean Casadesus. Another was Friedrich Gulda who loved both, and of course, as mentioned, Keith Jarrett. Of course, improvisation is one of the key elements in jazz whereas classical pianists are generally true to the score - as written.
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Re: Classical and jazz musicians's brains differ, study shows

Post by diegobueno » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:37 am

One of the most brilliant musicians I have ever known is Edward Murray, orchestra conductor and theory professor at Cornell University for many years. He was a relative (nephew perhaps) of Arthur Murray, and had inherited the dancer's taste in music, and developed a love of the classics and a special interest in Webern and post-Webern serialism. He could read any orchestral score at the piano at sight, he could play most of the classical piano repertory, though mostly I heard him in 20th century rep (Malcolm Bilson covered the Classical period rep).
He also put on programs of modern music under the name Musica Nova. He delighted in presenting programs mixing Webern and Dallapiccola with Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

I heard him many times both in public and in private settings playing jazz piano with a particularly ornate style. His mind was like a catalogue. He knew all the substitution harmonies, and then he applied substitutions to the substitutions, so his improvisations were like layer cakes, but never lost sight of the original song. He had some recordings made privately, and you could buy them at his performances, but I don't think any of them are generally available.

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