'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Costa Rica not Really Calling, and Jazz, Brains, and Dreams.

Since I last blogged Robin has been to Limon, Costa Rica, and is now on his way to Honduras.
It's a shame communication is so difficult at the moment, as he assures me he has some great photographs, some of which I would have shared with you.
Today though, he is hard at work, practising his guitar, in preparation for tonight's concert.

However, this did leave me free to look at other things, and I came across this article in 'The Philadelphia Inquirer', by Lauran Neergaard, 'Researchers hope that Jazz can reveal the brains secrets'.

This is an area that has always interested me.
In fact, many years ago I wanted to carry out some research on the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo.
I was going to wire them up, and monitor their brain activity, whilst playing their guitars, and again whilst resting.
I also toyed with the idea of carrying out the same experiment as they performed in concert.
They weren't as keen on this idea, mainly because the pressures of performing are quite enough, without trying to do so with many electrodes stuck to your head. There's also no getting away from the fact that it looks pretty ridiculous.
As it turned out the logistics of getting the duo into the laboratory proved too difficult.
They were touring extensively around the world, so I had to change my plans, and looked at stress instead. (Which has proved very helpful in its own right!)

Anyway, back to the article, which I recommend you read, as I'll only give you the general principles here.
Scientists in Washington have chosen jazz musicians to learn more about where creativity comes from, by looking inside their brains.
It's done using an MRI scanner, showing the brains activity, and providing a chance to observe cognitive functioning.

Charles Limb decided to compare activity between musicians playing from memory, to when they improvise, and he carried out his research with Allen Braun of the National Institute of health.

They found that being creative, when improvising, uses the same part of the brain as when dreaming, inhibition is switched off, and expression switched on. The musicians also showed heightened sensory awareness, ie, touch, hearing and sight.

They did recognise that highly trained musicians brains may work differently to amateurs, which is the area Limb and Braun want to look at next.

I find all this fascinating.

Whilst I haven't carried out any scientific research on this area myself, in a home made, 'not so random sample' of one, that is, of course the musician Robin Hill, I certainly do see a difference in the way he thinks when in a composing mode, compared to when he's in a practise or performing mode.
Also, if creativity uses the same area of the brain as when dreaming, then I can tell you, Robin has some pretty weird dreams.
Maybe I shall have to start comparing his dreams when he's been composing, to when he hasn't been composing.....There's a thought.
As the British novelist, William Golding once said:
"Sleep is when all the unsorted stuff comes flying out as from a dustbin upset in a high wind."
Robin better beware when he gets home.
I might just start waking him up, notebook in hand.


Eco Interactive said...

Nice here
Nice here

Anna said...

Do I get a holiday discount for putting this comment up?