The brains of classical and jazz artists (Part 3)

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When observing beta vibrations (a type of electric brain wave that usually decreases when the brain feels an action is wrong), the researchers also found that pianists pay more attention to errors in usage finger to hit, while jazz musicians noticed the lack of harmony.

This shows that the musicians focus on different aspects, thus more sensitive to the irregularities or violations in them.

There have been numerous reports documenting how music training affects the brain enhancing from memory to problem solving and behavioral regulation. However, being trained in different genres of music with different requirements and priorities will have different effects on the brain, the more clearly the difference between those genres. Rarely does a musician play both jazz and classical music in the same performance. They notice the difference, even though they probably haven’t studied how the brain works. In a 1997 article in Piano and Keyboard magazine, jazz pianist Keith Jarrett was asked if he would consider doing a concert with both jazz and classical music. “No, that’s ridiculous,” he replied. “I mean, that’s really crazy”. Jarret also pointed out the difference between the necessary “circuits” when playing each genre of music is the reason why musicians cannot fulfill this requirement.

Now we understand that those “circuits” are how the brain works to match the creative requirements of jazz or the extreme technical processing capabilities of classical music. “With this study, we have shed light on how precisely the brain responds to the demands of the environment,” says Sammler. It also means that we cannot focus on just one genre of music if we want to understand how the brain works during music playing.

However, these insights are still not comprehensive. Up to now, studies have focused only on Western classical music. “In order to have a big picture, we have to look for the most common characteristics of many genres of music, and when we study language processing mechanisms, we cannot be limited to just one language, like German”.