Music as Biology


The course will explore the tone combinations that humans consider consonant or dissonant, the scales we use, and the emotions music elicits, all of which provide a rich dataset for exploring music and auditory aesthetics in neurobiological terms. Analyses of speech and music indicate that the chromatic scale (the set of tones used by humans to create music), consonance and dissonance, worldwide preferences for a few dozen scales from the billions that are possible, and the emotions elicited by music in different cultures stem from the relative similarity of musical tonalities and the characteristics of voiced (tonal) speech. Our brains have evidently evolved to associate these two domains.

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