A couple of weeks back I came across this interesting article published in the UK on music therapy. The article caught my interest with its mention of Paul Robertson's work on music and the mind:
Paul Robertson, the former leader of the Medici Quartet, promotes the relationship between music, the mind and emotions, and says that music may offer a way into the brain when other pathways have become damaged. He cites the case of Stephen Wade, a linguist and amateur composer, who suffered a stroke and can no longer speak, read or write. Wade does not remember a conversation from a few minutes before, but can play complex passages of music. He cannot write words, but is able to write music.
Last year he completed a degree in music composition at Cambridge University. Wade’s story is not unusual; thousands of people lose the ability to process language, but not music. “Music is the underlying structure of communication,” says Robertson. “It is hard-wired into our brains. Neurological research shows that it is not memory that is lost, but the access to it, so music may offer another route in, providing a kind of short-cut.”
Then I came across a reference to Robertson in this article on the perception of sound:
"Among many other things, he (Robertson) presents research where the brain of a male, practicing scales and playing Bach on a small keyboard, is x-rayed. One of the most amazing results of this examination is that the part of the brain that deals with listening is inactive while he plays. On the other hand the part which deals with visual impressions is active when he plays Bach (i.e. is creative) but not when he practices scales (a non creative task)....For some reason our minds let us believe that we are hearing when we are in fact feeling or seeing, and that we are seeing when we´re hearing. Why is that?"
Is there not some other kind or modality of listening going on? I think of my own experiences at practice and I partly think it makes sense, but at the same time something doesn't quite ring true. I've alway enjoyed playing and practicing Bach early in the morning and experienced it as a kind of meditative practice. Often slowing the tempo to a crawl, concentrating on "feeling" each note beneath the finger and at the same time "seeing" it as it fits into a larger network of relations.
What's your experience?