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On the Grammar of Music

The study mentioned below is a remarkable one, indeed. [Maess, B., Koelsch,
S., Gunter, T. C. and Friederici, A. D. Musical Syntax is processed in
Broca's area: an MEG study. Nature Neuroscience 4, 540-545 (2001).]

The authors claim to have found evidence for their assumption that there is
a grammar of musical chords, even in non-musicians.

This assumption is all the more remarkable, as musicians themselves consider
such grammars as theoretical artefacts or, at best, as a matter of personal

But, no worry, these authors haven't found what they claim to have found.
What they really found is that off-scale notes in a sequence of chords can
produce similar brain activity as nonsense words in a sentence.

Their conclusion is that music is processed like a language and chords are
governed by grammar. Anybody may compare that with his or her own


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
Gansbyn 14
S-671 95 Klässbol

----- Original Message -----
From: John Hershey <jhershey@cogsci.ucsd.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2001 10:52 PM
Subject: Re: Why the music is music and the noise is noise?

> according to this study music is language, although the converse is not
> clear.
> so perhaps you can make noise into music by whispering, but you might have
> to whisper a tune.
> http://www.nature.com/nsu/010426/010426-4.html  (stimulus sound file and
> picture here)
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Peter Meijer" <peter.b.l.meijer@PHILIPS.COM>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2001 2:57 AM
> Subject: Re: Why the music is music and the noise is noise?
> > Can we build a system which can turn the noise to the music?
> There is a related news snippet in yesterday's New Scientist
> at http://www.newscientist.com/dailynews/news.jsp?id=ns9999653
> Best wishes,
> Peter Meijer