Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Music & Science

thewall

Jim and Greg celebrate the 35th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s The Wall with a Classic Album Dissection.

Download Subscribe via iTunes

Ira Flatow

Science Friday host Ira Flatow joins Jim and Greg this week to talk about the meeting of science and music.

First, Jim and Greg ask Ira for his thoughts on a story from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Scientists there took pairs of identical and fraternal twins and tested their musical ability against the time spent practicing. Surprisingly, they found that practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. In other words, your ability to play music is based more on your genetic makeup than your hard work spent rehearsing.

Next, our hosts discussed whether or not teenagers should replace A&R staff at the record labels. According to Dr. Gregory Berns at Emory University, teenagers put into an fMRI machine were able to predict whether an unknown song would be a hit, based on the recorded neural responses to the songs being played.

Music scholars will appreciate the next study, which was published in Scientific American. Specific musical intervals such as the tritone and the perfect fifth influence the organizing behavior of people exposed to those different intervals. People listening to the perfect fifth intervals were able to categorize items in a list better than people who listened to tritone intervals. This may correlate to the idea that a distracted mind is actually one that is better able to concentrate.

fmri

Ira brings up a Science Friday interview with Charles Limb, a professor of head and neck Surgery. He found that Jazz musicians who played music while in a fMRI machine had language centers light up in the brain. This suggests jazz musicians may have an unspoken language they communicate through their music.

Ira also mentions a Current Biology study that found that there are some people who just don’t like music. They have a condition called Specific Musical Anhedonia. Hopefully Sound Opinions hasn’t transferred this condition to any of you listening.

The Wall

The Wall

With the first new music from Pink Floyd in nearly 20 years coming this month, Jim and Greg take a look back at band’s 1979 classic album The Wall. It’s celebrating its 35th anniversary. The brainchild of Roger Waters, the epic double album touches on a range of tortured topics like fame, divorce, mothers and paranoia. During their dissection, Jim and Greg dive head first into Water’s personal lyrics and compare the The Wall to other albums in the band’s catalog. Then, our hosts choose their favorite tracks; Greg goes with Mother and Jim selects Run Like Hell.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!