I’ve been struggling to find inspiration around my thesis performance. I am researching the brain but the more I read, the farther away from myself it feels. These stories aren’t like my own and the more I find out about neuroplasticity the more I think that it actually has nothing to do with me.
This weekend I had a long phone call with my friend and puppeteer Zach Dorn. We did our undergrad at UConn together, and he also had a weird, unexplainable thing happen to his brain. So I told him about my project and he gave me really good feedback. He said, “It sounds like your trying to find answers. Like your trying to find out why this thing happened to you, and why it got better, and how it affects you today. But the brain is so mysterious that not even neurologists can explain it. Stop trying to find answers”. He suggested I try to tell the story through imbalance, through lack of unity and control, in a nonlinear format. So I went to my notebook and started writing. Then I remembered the sound of getting an MRI. Robot noises on repeat. Mechanical yet oddly meditative. I used to have to sit frozen still in the MRI machine while this played. I would to try to keep track of how many different sounds played, and their specific rhythms. I want to dance to this music. Freely. With my whole body. When I listen now I find it strangely comforting and funny. Here’s a link to the music: Brain MRI Sounds The comments are pretty interesting.
Also this is Zach’s website if you’re interested: Zach Dorn
NYU Music Department Conference
February 16–17, 2018
Keynote address: Prof. Josh Kun, University of Southern California
What can sound-makers and -thinkers tell us about the role of music, sound, and silence in struggles against precarity and in the creation of sanctuary?
Precarious Sounds // Sounding Sanctuary, hosted by NYU’s FAS Music Department, will unfold over two days of panels, performances, and multimedia installations.
Featured events include a Friday afternoon keynote by Prof. Josh Kun (University of Southern California) about his work with music and housing justice in San Francisco and a multimedia exhibit in NYU Bobst Library’s Avery Fisher Center.
Eighteen presenters discuss colonial legacies of a naval base in the Philippines, soundscapes of precarity on the streets of Cuba, mediation of struggles in a French refugee camp, listening practices across the Mexico-U.S. border, the political potentials of sonic blackness, and silence as tool of oppression or nurturing refuge.
Over twenty composers, performers, and installation artists explore precarity and sanctuary through chamber pieces, found objects and sonic technologies, and participatory performances highlighting themes including ecosystems in danger, the limits of the human body, America’s history of enslavement, the surveillance state, and memory as precarity and sanctuary.
* We especially thank NYU Center for the Humanities, GSAS, FAS Division of the Humanities, SCA, MEIS, MCC, the Kevorkian Center, and CLACS for their generous financial contributions to make this conference possible.
Here are two visual mappings of some deep listening I did recently. The second one is of a song by my friend Ali Dineen. Here’s a link to the song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p21hCPQHzVM
Her album Light Comes In is the reason I was able to get through my first semester at Pratt…
Deeply Listening Body is a compilation of movement practices, improvisations, exercises and a detailed introduction to the beginning movements of the Yang style T’ai Chi form. Included are step-by-step instructions, guided suggestions for focusing one’s attention, instructions for group pieces and a glossary of terms from the Taoist tradition.
Heloise Gold is a performing artist, dancer and T’ai Chi/Qi Gong instructor.
See the full article here
At its core, music is sound, and sound is rooted in vibration. Led by Lee Bartel, PhD, a music professor at the University of Toronto, several researchers are exploring whether sound vibrations absorbed through the body can help ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and depression. Known as vibroacoustic therapy, the intervention involves using low frequency sound — similar to a low rumble — to produce vibrations that are applied directly to the body. During vibroacoustic therapy, the patient lies on a mat or bed or sits in a chair embedded with speakers that transmit vibrations at specific computer-generated frequencies that can be heard and felt, says Bartel. He likens the process to sitting on a subwoofer.
In 2009, researchers led by Lauren K. King of the Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research and Rehabilitation Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ontario, found that short-term use of vibroacoustic therapy with Parkinson’s disease patients led to improvements in symptoms, including less rigidity and better walking speed with bigger steps and reduced tremors (NeuroRehabilitation, December, 2009). In that study, the scientists exposed 40 Parkinson’s disease patients to low-frequency 30-hertz vibration for one minute, followed by a one-minute break. They then alternated the two for a total of 10 minutes. The researchers are now planning a long-term study of the use of vibroacoustic therapy with Parkinson’s patients, as part of a new partnership with the University of Toronto’s Music and Health Research Collaboratory, which brings together scientists from around the world who are studying music’s effect on health.
The group is also examining something called thalmocortical dysrhythmia — a disorientation of rhythmic brain activity involving the thalamus and the outer cortex that appears to play a role in several medical conditions including Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease, says Bartel, who directs the collaboratory.
“Since the rhythmic pulses of music can drive and stabilize this disorientation, we believe that low-frequency sound might help with these conditions,” Bartel says. He is leading a study using vibroacoustic therapy with patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease. The hope is that using the therapy to restore normal communication among brain regions may allow for greater memory retrieval, he says.
“We’ve already seen glimmers of hope in a case study with a patient who had just been diagnosed with the disorder,” Bartel says. “After stimulating her with 40-hertz sound for 30 minutes three times a week for four weeks, she could recall the names of her grandchildren more easily, and her husband reported good improvement in her condition.”
The goal of all of this work is to develop “dosable” and “prescribable” music therapy and music as medicine protocols that serve specific neurologic functions and attend to deficits that may result from many of these neurologically based conditions. Rather than viewing music only as a cultural phenomenon, Bartel says, the art should be seen as a vibratory stimulus that has cognitive and memory dimensions.
“Only when we look at it in this way do we start to see the interface to how the brain and body work together.”