Sound transmitted to the inner ear is broken down according to the spectrum of frequencies that make up sounds. This orderly arrangement of low to higher frequencies is mapped onto the brain much like the way low to high notes are mapped on a piano keyboard. However, not much is known about how the pieces are put back together when we recognize melodies, words, or the scolding sound of someone’s voice.
William J. Cromie / How Your Brain Listens to Music, Harvard University Gazette
Fascinated by the gut reaction. By the ability of an inert piece of music – three minutes or four minutes or five – to burrow across perception with mechanical precision (or, if like me you prefer your journeys accompanied by an unconventional adjective: with insectile tenaciousness).
It’s a common enough trait that’s rarely replicated through any other medium. I’ve witnessed fully-grown humans fall weak at the knees at the sound of Green Gartside’s voice. Watched anticipatory tears spring unannounced just as soon as the drawled-out intro of “Breaking Lines” segues into Stephen Pastel singing “Your feelings touch me so”, or that bit when“Just Like Heaven” kicks in – the drum fill, then bass (high register) then light and restrained guitar, then dreamy synth… I’ve yet to spot the same reaction upon hearing Dinosaur Jr’s version, but that has many good things going for it, too.
I guess that it’s the immediacy that’s the killer; a sudden and intimate surge of adrenalin – to a riff, single chord, a solitary, spaced-out bleep at the end of the chorus. It certainly doesn’t affect everyone – and upon those of us predisposed to the reflex, the impact is against a startlingly broad range of sources – but all the same, it’s heavily, heavily discernible.
And for me? Inclusions are many, but number Kate Radley mouthing “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” down a musty phoneline. John Cale’s viola stinking up the background of the Velvet’s “Heroin”. And this portion of sonic wonderment, from 1991:
Chapterhouse / Pearl
(and because I’m nothing if not predictable…)
Dinosaur Jr / Just Like Heaven
(and apologies for the lack of lulz this time around…tomorrow: Chas ‘n’ Dave ‘n’ Dogging, or something).