2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

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Music while you work

Biz Psycho

Millennials are re-creating the war-time experiences of having music played in factories by bringing music into offices.

Last year PRS for Music, the music licensing organisation which collects royalties for musicians, granted 27,000 licences for offices to play recorded music, up almost 10% on the previous year.

And that’s good news for musicians who must be heartily sick of being ripped off by young people ripping tracks from web-sites in the belief that they are “entitled” to free music.

Whether or not music does help productivity is open to debate. Certainly the government thought it did during WWII when they promoted “Music While You Work“.

The American company Musak actually patented a “Stimulus Progression” system to keep factory workers focussed by varying the intensity of the music in 15 minute chunks; something I have posted about elsewhere

Many factories have scrapped music on health &…

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It’s not what you play it’s the way that you play it

Heres a post I wrote elsewhere before I had 2 Shades up and running

Mike the Psych's Blog

bow_piano_performance_500_wht_12530Professional musicians (96% of them) and novices (84% of them) agree that sound matters most in a musical performance. Pretty obvious you would think. But it’s not so.

Experiments by concert pianist and psychologist Dr Chia-Jung Tsay ( a good name for a psychologist) showed that when it comes to a live performance it’s what you see that counts most – and that applies equally to professional musicians and the novices.

They were more accurate at picking out good performances by watching silent videos rather than audio recordings.

You might have noticed how many classical musicians, especially women, seem to trade on their looks. There are some good looking female musicians out there and the fact they they often appear scantily clad on CD covers hasn’t escaped my notice.

Naturally the study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and which used 900 participants judging a mixture…

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Music spices up your food, not just your life.

chef_with_giant_fork_1600_wht_5285A gastrophysicist at Oxford University has discovered that specific musical genres complement different types of food you eat at home.

Professor Charles Spence worked with Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria on involving the other senses in the pursuit of taste. He goes so far as to say it won’t be long before you get a music CD with your takeaway to complement it.

The professor involved 700 volunteers in an experiment involving takeaway food and music from several different genres. (there’s been a lot of interest in musical genres of late). These were: Pop, Classical, Indie/rock, Rock, Jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and dance

The more alerting or arousing the music, the more people appreciate spicier food. So Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Guns n’ Roses, or the Arctic Monkeys made food seem 4% spicier than listening to Nina Simone. But she was good with sushi as was Sinatra.

Chinese or Thai food? Ed Sheeran plays well to that menu as does Taylor Swift

Justin Bieber or Beyoncé are no-noes however. Listening to them just turns people off food (and some people off music)

Hip hop, dance, and R & B music had no noticeable effect on the enjoyment of any kind of food.

The research was commissioned by an on-line take-away company which was seriously thinking about providing music with the food with different soundtracks with different dishes.

There is already a heavy metal-inspired restaurant in London. Not sure what food goes well with that or whether they provide indigestion medication as a rider. 

The professor previously worked with Blumenthal on the Sound of the Sea dish where the food was accompanied by the sound of crashing waves.

He also discovered that music could enhance your drinking pleasure with Bryan Ferry going down well with champagne.

Playing classical music and jazz makes customers happier to pay for their food than when pop music is played. (Shops playing classical music can sell more expensive items as they are perceived to be of better quality).

Turning up the lighting can influence people to buy spicier food; turning it down people order cappuccino rather than espresso coffees.

It all sounds finger-licking good to me and adds to what we know about the impact of music on our day-to-day lives.


Personality and musical preferences

head_gear_500_wht_2011Scientists from the University of Cambridge have investigated how our personalities relate to our musical preferences. In particular whether or not we have an empathising brain or a systematising one.

People with empathising brains like to understand thoughts and emotions and were found to be more likely to prefer soft rock and R&B. “They wanted music with emotional depth that was thoughtful and poetic”. Mariah Carey and Bon Jovi were quoted as examples.

I don’t know who they thought was the R&B representative but they probably mean the modern definition of urban music not the gritty real thing like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, or Jimmy Reed.

People who were systematisers – the kind of people who are interested in the processes and the details –  preferred music that was more intense such as punk, rock, and heavy metal. “They also wanted cerebral depth and complexity, classical, jazz and avant-garde music.

I’m not sure how useful this distinction is given the range of musical tastes among the systematisers. I can understand the classical, jazz and avant gated but where is the complexity in punk and heavy metal?

FYI the idea of empathisers v systematisers was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen who is well known for his research into autism. He believes that people who are high on systematising tend are found at the autistic end of the spectrum.

His research is not without its critics e.g. he found that there were more women on the empathiser scale and more men on the systematiser scale. But there are more men than women who are on the autistic end of the spectrum sometimes described as having Asperger’s syndrome (i.e. attention to detail, preoccupation with a subject e.g. avid collectors). And yes, he is Ali G’s smarter cousin.

If you want to see for yourself whether you are more empathiser than systematiser go here for empathiser or systematiser questionnaire.


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Music can help traumatised troops

marching_bass_drum_player_500_wht_11501marching_trombone_player_500_wht_11494 marching_sousaphone_player_500_wht_11489marching_major_500_wht_11412 Music has been prescribed as therapy for UK troops suffering from the mental and physical effects of war including PTSD.

This would extend the role that military musicians historically had of rescuing casualties from the battle fields and acting as stretcher-bearers.

Captain Craig Hallett, the director of music for the Royal Artillery Band said “Since the second world war there has been a realisation that healing can be helped by music and can even work as therapy for physical injuries … and we’re really concentrating on that now at Headley Court”.

At Headley Court rehabilitation centre there is a music room where injured service personnel can play guitars, pianos and percussion instruments. Army musicians regularly perform at Headley Court but not in a direct therapeutic role.

It was hoped that that would change according to a report in the Guardian on a conference “Worlds in Collision organised by the charity The Musical Brain.

In America there is a longer tradition of using music therapeutically