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What is "BRAIN MUSIC" and what makes it different?


There has been much research on how different kinds of music affect learning and experience. All music is NOT the same in it's effect on the brain.

For example, Baroque music (like Bach or Vilvaldi slow movements) which is heard at about 60 BPM (one downbeat every second) has a phenomenal effect on the increased retention of information. This has been used to great advantage by professional companies that teach new languages. Shifting the beat to a faster tempo disables the effect.

We also know that the brain requires more complex and NEW stimulation to grow. Typical overly simplistic and repetitive pop radio music that covers no new ground fails to meet this requirement. Extremely repetitive music, with additional hard jarring beats seems to actually be detrimental to brain function.

In my own creating of "Brain" Music, I have adhered to certain principals I view as essential, after 30 years as a professional musician and teacher. I have made a deliberate venture in my music projects to contain certain qualities which promote better brain function- better learning, creativity, intelligence, and PLEASURE. I would never suggest that ONLY my music does this, but in many cases it takes a trained musical ear to know the difference between really advanced brain music and "junk food" music.

And, there's a lot of "junk" out there. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a good simple KINK's or GREEN DAY song, or some raunchy rock and roll. A simple folk song has it's place as well. But a steady diet of limited music is no better for your your brain than a steady diet of MacDonald's hamburgers and greasy fries. If you want your brain to REALLY BLAST OFF, you have to feed it good quality music.

When I listen to music, I listen to classical music, or some world-class world music like Trilok Gurtu, or John McLaughlin- musicians most people have never even heard of, much less listen to on a regular basis. Of course I also listen to good pop music, I even teach some punk rock to guitar students when they want it.

The thing is you need a combination and variety, which includes NEW and UNIQUE music. This has a BIG effect on making the brain work better. You can FEEL IT. In general, listening to the same old stuff ALL THE TIME, whether it's a ROUTINE of classical pieces, or Led Zepplin, or 'N Sync for the millionth time will make your brain rot, for sure.

GOOD BRAIN MUSIC adheres to the following criteria:

#1- It is SUFFICIENTLY COMPLEX to keep your interest during repeated listenings. "Junk" music gets boring after you've heard it a dozen times. How often have you listened to your 1995 Prince or Madonna album, eh? Are your first Britney Spears and Back Street Boys CD's starting to get dusty? They will, absolutely. By contrast, once you get into it, you'll listen to any Bach or Mozart composition for the rest of your life. Some jazz music, because of the nature of complex improvised melody lines qualifies. However, much jazz music, that offers nothing new and seems rather rubber stamped ("easy jazz"),- the same old "gnat notes" solos, fails to do this.

This quality of complexity stimulates brain activity in the frontal lobes and between the right and left hemispheres. Actually knowing how to play an instrument furthers this increase in brain function- Research has shown that musicians have much more dense fibers in the corpus callosum than non-musicians, and this allows for much better special intelligence (recognition of abstract and spacial forms and constructs) among other things. Musicians further process music equally in both hemispheres, unlike non-musicians who mostly only "hear" music with half their brain.

#2- Brain Music is NEW. This is a rather tricky criteria, as anything we become familiar with loses this quality of newness after repeated listenings. For example, if you are very familiar with certain classical music pieces, these have lost this quality. Beethoven's 5th Symphony sounds fantastic the first few times you actually sit down and concentrate on listening to it. But it loses that rare "WOW!" peak thing that happens in your brain when you encounter a brand new experience. You have to go a while and "forget" much of it before your neurons fire off in the same way- and they never quite do if you've heard it a dozen times. To get your brain to grow and learn- and go those pleasure synapses to fire full force- you have to keep EXPLORING. Your music and listening experience must be infinitely varied, and always searching out new things.

The brain craves-it NEEDS- new information. Grow or Die. Mother nature has in fact set up a reward system in the limbic portion of our brain. When you process new information, like a new movie, new scenery, NEW MUSIC, this sets off neurotransmitters in the pleasure centers in your brain, and you FEEL GREAT. By constantly exposing yourself to new things, your brain gathers data that helps you to survive in this world. Listeing to new music is one of the easiest and most pleasurable ways to help your brain grow and work more efficiently.

True Story: A guy goes swimming every day, 10 laps. At first he loses weight. But he never changes his routine. After a year, he continues to swim 10 laps- and starts gaining weight. Moral of this story? Move on!

If you keep listening (doing) to the same old thing--- the brain punishes you with BOREDOM. This is Mother Nature telling you GROW NEW BRAIN CONNECTIONS. New studies have shown that students who learn new music do far better in school in all subject areas than non-musical students. It is not too difficult to imagine all of the other areas of life- not so conveniently tested- that learning or listening to new music helps.

Music that uses new combinations of harmony and rhythm not common in typical classical music or over-played pop radio music qualifies. Much world music with odd time signatures and unusual scales and harmonies qualifies for us westerners. Naturally, if you grow up listening to Eastern Indian music for example, you would have to listen to The Beatles or something "unfamiliar" to achieve the same NEW BRAIN STIMULATION EFFECT.

#3- Positive and creative lyrical content is important in vocal music, although there is a certain amount of give to "negative" lyrics. The Beatles songs, for example, generally reflect on positive and upbeat things, with the occasional negative lament of "my baby left me I'm so blue" kind of thing. But overall, with the combination of complexity and variety of sounds and melody, and mostly upbeat lyrics, the general effect is a very positive brain trip. On the other hand, music with lyrics of a constant negative and depressing nature, along with little variety in harmony and melody, along with harsh acoustic distortion and dissonant harmonic and acoustic elements - it doesn't take a genius to figure out this will make anybody depressed. If you feed your mind and brain a steady diet of "Life Sucks" messages, guess what you're gonna' start feeling all day... Lyrics also need to put a new twist on things to tickle and stimulate your frontal lobes and anterior amygdala. Just saying the same old thing in the same old way doesn't make it.




I was wondering how the brain frequencies effect the clicking (clicking one's brain into more advanced, and pleasurable areas). Can these be manipulated, or helped along to do this?

It is easy for me to know which music effects a positive click. It is what I have always thought of as "universal" music...I don't mean just new age (some good) or classical. I think of universal music as certain examples of music that transcends the ordinary and connects to some "higher" forum. It manifests when the musician has gone beyond ordinary, and into ART. (And can be any form of music from hard rock to classical, depending if the musician has made the shift to art). In the same way some paintings are art, others are mundane or technical. The difference is between being a craftsman (good technical music, poetry, writing, art, dance etc,) and an artist (the jump to art, no matter what medium). I am failing here at being clear, sorry. Art is hard to express in words. (frontal lobe business!) This long winded attempt has to do! -Margie



Margie! You have made a GENIUS Frontal Lobes Observation- YES YES YES! You have hit the nail on the HEAD! Frontal Lobes Expression goes beyond category, it can be any kind of style- what is important is that the Frontal Lobes "art" or "music" takes the observer to NEW PLACES. This creates brand new neural connections in the brain, and directly results in Frontal Lobes "pops", insights, and transcendence of one sort or another. This is what all the great artists (and scientists) have done: Van Gogh, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Picasso, Einstein, Copernicus..... Mundane artistic expression merely goes over the same old thing again, like listening to the same song for the millionth time(BORING!!!!)-nothing happens, it's like sucking on a pacifier. Frontal Lobes Mind/Brain Music or art takes the listener/viewer on a NEW ADVENTURE, TRIP and opens their mind to INFINITE possibilities ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!!

If you didn't know any better, listening to an example of Brian Music, you just might think "Hey, this is fantastic music- you say there is a brain message here?" (It's NOT subliminal, it's RIGHT THERE. You perceive more and more higher waves of pleasurable advanced communication/intelligence as you listen and begin to click forward into your frontal lobes.)

You are amazing for making this important distinction between "high music" and common commercial glop which practically everybody misses! Be aware, true Frontal Lobes music/art occassionaly takes a little getting used to- a piece of music will have to be heard several times, maybe a dozen until you start to GET IT. And then, wham!!! It hits you! You go- MAN, there's something GREAT here!! It's like learning a new language, at first it doesn't make sense, and then your brain works it out. Unlike predictable mundane expression, which just gets old on repeated exposure, Frontal Lobes music/art keeps getting better and better, you find more and more, deeper and deeper ideas that don't ever seem to run out. Of course, quite often YOU GET THE MIND POP! INSTANTLY!!
- N.S.


ALSO SEE: How To Tell Good Music

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