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Re: working memory and melody

Your experience fits in quite well with my dissertation research. One of my hypotheses is that familiar music (compared to unfamiliar music) is largely processed using declarative memory, especially in females (i.e., utilizing structures such as the hippocampus and temporal or temporo-parietal neocortex), while listening to unfamiliar music requires more rule-based processing (i.e. sequences of pitches, harmonies, and rhythms, largely utilizing frontal - BA 44 - and basal ganglia structures).  This would fit with your experience in that unfamiliar music would interfere with reading (since they both utilize similar structures, such as BA 44), while familiar music would not.


Robbin Miranda
Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience
Georgetown University
3900 Reservoir Rd., NW
Washington DC 20007
(202) 687-8449

----- Original Message -----
From: Chandan Raghava Narayan <cnarayan@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:00 am
Subject: Re: working memory and melody

> I find a similar effect myself, but it crucially interacts with my 
> familiarity with the music. For example, if I'm listening to a 
> Bach 
> cello suite, which I've heard numerous times in the past, I can 
> re-create the listening experience even though I'm 'passively' 
> listening during a reading task. In essence, I can predict what 
> the 
> music sounded like (or should have sounded like) and feel 
> thoroughly 
> satisfied with the reading and listening experiences.
> Now, if I'm listening to chance compositions (Cage),'avant garde' 
> (Kagel, Scelsi, AMM, etc.), soundscapes (Alan Lamb, Arnold 
> Dreyblatt, 
> etc.)reading does have an effect on the listening experience. 
> Without a 
> doubt I re-visit the music soon after reading.
> Take home: If I can hum it, I can read with it.
> Quoting Bruno Repp <repp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>:
> > I am an avid music listener and listen to classical music 
> practically 
> > every morning and evening. Classical music requires full 
> attention to 
> > be appreciated properly. However, because the listening takes up 
> a 
> > lot of time, I have often tried to combine it with other 
> activities. 
> > I soon found out that reading, even of the most trivial text, is 
> > totally disruptive. I feel I have not heard the music at all 
> while I 
> > was reading-a very disheartening experience.
> ================================
> chandan r. narayan
> dept. of linguistics
> university of michigan
> cnarayan@xxxxxxxxx
> www-personal.umich.edu/~cnarayan
> ================================