1 December 2017, Music Cognition Reading Group, Ned McGowan
In this presentation, the physical and cognitive experience of speed in music is explored. Organic to all cultures, music is not only an emergent property of the timing mechanisms of the brain (Craig, 2009) but also a manifestation of who we are, how we think and how we feel. The engagement of brain and body with sound reflects the temporal functions of physical, cultural and personal identities. Thus, much can be learned about another by simply listening to their music.
Organic to music is time; without time, there is no music. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of time with its broad implications in the sciences tells little about our experiences. The concept of speed, though, is full of enlightening character. Take some common terms to describe tempo in music: largo (broadly), adagio (slow and stately), allegro (fast, quickly and bright), vivacissimo (very fast and lively). Speed is relational and reveals aspects of how we think and feel. It is innately human.