BIT Studio

March 15, 2018

Society for Ethnomusicology

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 3:15 pm

Delivering a paper titled IMPROVISATION IN NEURORHYTHMICS: PARTICIPATORY CULTURE at the SOCIETY FOR ETHNOMUSICOLOGY (Niagara chapter) annual meeting at Ryerson University on Saturday April 14, 2018. Coker, Csikszenmihalyi, Hanslick, Adorno, Turino, Bailey, Ferand, Limb, plus jazz and aesthetic formalization… fun stuff!

February 1, 2018

Music & Brain

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 7:15 am

  I will be delivering a paper, Music and the Brain, as part of the Toronto Public Library Health Series on Wednesday May 2, 2018, 6:30-7:30 pm, at the Northern District Library (Yonge & Eglinton). Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, creativity, improvisation, Dalcroze, health care policy. Everyone welcome!

January 1, 2018

Keith Loach

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 1:31 pm

Recent & Upcoming Paper Presentations

Toronto Public Library Seminar
June 13, 2017 – S. Walter Stewart Library, Toronto
International Conference of Dalcroze Studies
August 3, 2017 – Laval University, Quebec City
The Dunfield Retirement Residence Speaker Series
August 19, 2017 – The Dunfield, Toronto
International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation
Sept 13, 2017 – University of Guelph (Jazz Festival), Guelph
Toronto Public Library Seminar
Nov 3, 2017 – Don Mills Library, Toronto
Society for Ethnomusicology
April 14, 2018 – Ryerson University, Toronto
Toronto Public Library Seminar
May 2, 2018 – Northern District Library, Toronto


October 1, 2017

Musicking, Science and Health

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 7:07 am

  Join us! Music and the Brain. Friday 11/3/17, 2-3 pm, Don Mills Library. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, creativity, improvisation, Dalcroze, health care policy.

September 5, 2017


Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 1:07 pm

I will be presenting a paper on Music & Brain at the GUELPH JAZZ FESTIVAL Colloquium (International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation – on Wed Sept 13, 2017 at Guelph University. Great jazz, int’l speakers. Join us! #musiceducation #musictherapy #neuromusic

June 9, 2017

Music and the Brain

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 10:21 am

  Join us! Music and the Brain. Tues 6/13/17, 7-8 pm, S. Walter Stewart Library. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, creativity, improv, health care policy.

April 15, 2017

Dalcroze Improv Paper

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 9:15 am

 International Conference of Dalcroze Studies. July 30 – August 3, 2017. Laval University, Quebec City. I will be presenting a paper: Improvisation in Neurorhythmics. Join Us!


September 6, 2016

Hertz Too Much

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 3:10 pm

 The sweet spot of intra-brain communication is 40 Hz (Gamma waves) and studies have shown that people with certain forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, have decreased brain activity in the 40 Hz area. Recent research by Lee Bartel et al has shown that exposure to 40 Hz vibrations in as little as six sessions of 30 minutes each can have a significant impact on mental stability, specifically an average gain of 12 per cent on the total Alzheimer’s test (Young, 2016).

The standardization of A at 440 Hz was established in the 1930s so that recording studios in New York could sync harmonically with recording studios in Los Angeles. Before then, there was no worldwide standard on pitch. A432 was commonly used because it was based on a C256, which has binary implications (that is, two to the eighth power is 256). But every country, even every city or concert house, had their own opinion regarding pitch.

When the note A is tuned to 440 Hz, low E on the piano is at 41.2 Hz and low Eb is at 38.9 Hz. So, 40 Hz is located about halfway between E and Eb. What are the implications of a low E being close to 40 Hz? Many stringed instruments have an E as the lowest and/or most important string, such as the lute, guitar, sitar, double bass, and electric bass guitar. And what about chanting and meditation? What pitch was the original OM? Is a low E at 40 Hz where our forefathers intended our E to be?

Ancient medical practices were not developed without reason; acupuncture is effective and some herbal medicines, typically created over time through trial and error, inexplicably work. So what about sound? Did early civilizations naturally gravitate to a 40 Hz fundamental in pursuit of inner peace and harmony? Did our society lose sight of the holy grail of pitches to accommodate the needs of the recording industry?

A427 is where A would be if a low E is set to 40Hz. Setting A to 427 Hz is not a major deviation from the norm: In the early 1700s, Joseph Sauveur was the first to propose a standardized pitch, and he recommended A427; The Paris Opera House in 1811 used A427 for their orchestral tuning. Given that the sweet spot of intra-brain communication is 40 Hz, is an A set at 440 Hz too high? If 40 Hz is the optimal frequency for brain connectivity, perhaps we should move to an A427 standard so that our brains are given the best environment for success.

As an interesting exercise in brain-massaging pleasure, I recommend listening to Mozart’s Adagio for Violin and Orchestra K261, written in the key of E, then remixed through the magic of 21st century technology (that is, use an iTunes app to lower the pitch by one half of a semitone) to be…wait for it…Mozart’s Adagio K261, written in the key of E and performed in the key of Eb and a half.

As mentioned earlier, the Paris Opera House in 1811 tuned to A427. It would not be a stretch to imagine that the premiere of Mozart’s Adagio in E for Violin and Orchestra, composed in 1776, was performed using an orchestral tuning of A427 featuring a low E at an enlightening and brain-friendly frequency. Enjoy your 40 Hz fix!

September 30, 2015

Complex Adaptive Systems

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 6:14 am

  Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) has been applied across many industries to create infrastructures that identify and respond to incremental change in an organized and timely fashion. Used in professional sectors such as manufacturing, stock market, computer algorithms, health care, and economics, it has proven itself successful in identifying and quantifying core values and producing tangible results.

Dr. Sholom Glouberman and Dr. Brenda Zimmerman (recognized expert on Complexity Theory and former Director of the York University Schulich School of Business Health Industry Management Program) identify three categories of problems: simple, complicated, and complex. “In simple problems like cooking by following a recipe, the recipe is essential. …Recipes produce standardized products and the best recipes give good results every time. Complicated problems, like sending a rocket to the moon, are different. …High levels of expertise in a variety of fields are necessary for success. …In some critical ways, rockets are similar to each other and because of this there can be a relatively high degree of certainty of outcome. Raising a child, on the other hand, is a complex problem. …Although expertise can contribute to the process in valuable ways, it provides neither necessary nor sufficient conditions to assure success. …As a result there is always some uncertainty of the outcome.”

The design of Complexity Theory solutions focuses on building a framework based on simple rules. They are not static and they adapt to change through processes built upon simple questions identified at a meta-level. CAS requires an interactive infrastructure. Dr. Zimmerman writes “Complex systems are non-linear and exhibit a great deal of noise, tension and fluctuation as they interact with the rest of the environment.”

The power of reframing a problem within a new paradigm cannot be understated. For many years, international arts and culture conflicts were dealt with as cultural exemptions through GATT agreements and World Trade Organization rulings. Neither of these forums were able to quantify and measure the value of culture and results were typically unfavourable. In 2000, the cultural problem was rebranded as a need for cultural diversity, a strategy that not only by-passed a frontal attack on WTO mandates, but also created a rallying cry for all countries to recognize the importance of their own cultural heritages and to join forces in an international effort (UNESCO Convention 2005) to separate culture from the existing world trade infrastructure.

Another reframing example happened during the AIDS crisis. Brazil chose to address the World Health Organization questionnaire by posing complex questions versus complicated questions. Reframing the problem as being open-ended and flexible (complex) rather than monetized and quantified (complicated) resulted in a 50% improvement over WHO casualty forecasts. In simplistic terms, they did not like the answers so they changed the questions, which ultimately changed the outcome.

Complex Adaptive Systems are able to produce solutions that, through communication, discovery, and continuous adaptation, address problems with a deep level of insight obtained through reworking many of the questions inherent in established systems.


May 24, 2015

Subway Musician

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 1:45 pm

  Joshua Bell unpacked his $3.5 million 1713 Stradivarius violin in a busy Washington DC subway station at 7:51am on Friday, January 12, 2007. He put on a baseball cap, and he began to play. He performed for 43 minutes music composed by Bach, Ponce, Massenet and Schubert.

Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, and Pulitzer Prize winner for the subsequent article chronicling the event, wrote: “He’d clearly meant it when he promised not to cheap out this performance: He played with acrobatic enthusiasm, his body leaning into the music and arching on tiptoes at the high notes. The sound was nearly symphonic, carrying to all parts of the homely arcade as the pedestrian traffic filed past.”

Over 1000 people walked by without a second glance. Only 27 people stopped to listen. Total take for the shift was $32.17, excluding a patron who recognized him, engaged with him, and gave him $20.00. “Actually,” Bell said with a laugh, “that’s not so bad, considering. That’s 40 bucks an hour. I could make an okay living doing this, and I wouldn’t have to pay an agent.”  (Weingarten)

It would be easy to dismiss the crowd as uneducated buffoons but it is not that simple; the underlying principles for understanding and appreciating art are complex. Weingarten makes the point that “Plato weighed in on it, and philosophers for two millennia afterward: What is beauty? Is it a measurable fact (Gottfried Leibniz), or merely an opinion (David Hume), or is it a little of each, colored by the immediate state of mind of the observer (Immanuel Kant)?” Weingarten makes a case for Kant’s view –  life is busy and full of distractions, and the contextual view of art will affect the depth of perception. These people cannot be judged on their inability to appreciate beauty.

Of greater significance is Weingarten’s commentary on the pace of life in general. The velocity of our modern-day, wealth-driven world does not allow our priorities to include the appreciation of art, and he raises the point that if we cannot find time to listen to the world’s finest compositions performed by the world’s finest musician, then “what else are we missing?”

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-from “Leisure,” by W.H. Davies

Like all good articles, Weingarten’s raises more questions than it answers. The subway may not be a source of inspiration for many people, and it is possible that the next subway musician encountered in your travels may not be worthy of too much of your time. But that is Weingarten’s point – how will you know?

Joshua Bell returned to the same Washington subway station in September 2014 and, thanks to a bit of promotion, his performance was well-received.

See Joshua Bell’s subway performance here.

Read Gene Weingarten’s article here.


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