When Brains Are in Harmony

Our concert is sold out, so last night when we had our dress rehearsal with the orchestra people were allowed to attend. It felt like we were giving a concert, which was great. When you work so long and hard on a piece, one concert never feels like enough. (Especially when you are doing the magnificent Bach Mass in B Minor.)

I know that reactions vary to a piece of music, and everyone has their own associations, but I can’t help feeling that when we all listen to a piece of music there is something about our response to it that is universal. There’s evidence that this might be true. From a press release about a recent study:

“Do the brains of different people listening to the same piece of music actually respond in the same way? An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists says the answer is yes, which may in part explain why music plays such a big role in our social existence.

“The investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify a distributed network of several brain structures whose activity levels waxed and waned in a strikingly similar pattern among study participants as they listened to classical music they’d never heard before.” Full press release here.

I took this picture during a break, while our brains were taking a rest. In my book I describe how the altar is so white and bright it seems to vibrate. In all my pictures from last night I had to use the filter that tones down highlights full blast.

Grace Church, New York City

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

4 thoughts on “When Brains Are in Harmony

  1. Not sure where I read the quote, but it stated: “Music is the universal language.”

    Think of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”…and how musical chords literally speaks to aliens in a common language.

  2. Love this picture, Stacy–if I do a brochure, I may have to use this! Have a great show tonight–wish I were there with you. I had been learning it, so it’s been in my car for the last few months. I love this piece–it’s majestical. XOXO

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