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Music that enhances thinking

  1. Mar 5, 2006 #1
    Does anyone have any exceptional music to recommend that they believe enhances their ability to concentrate or visualize highly abstract and/or complex math/physics problems? It's fun experimenting with stuff like this so if you have any recommendations let me know. [I do a lot of math & physics problems using Mathematica and Boze :wink: ]

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2006 #2


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    For me, something energetic!

    Maybe Mussorgsky, Borodin, Stravinsky, Profokiev or Rimsky-Korsakov.

    But good classic rock and roll works - Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Pink Floyd might work.

    A lot depends on my mood.
  4. Mar 5, 2006 #3
    The Bach Cello Suites. - Nuff' said

    The Bach Violin Partitas - The finest violin pieces ever conceived by the human mind.

    Both volumes of the well tempered clavier.

    Double violin concerto in D minor - JS BACH

    http://magnatune.com/collections/bach - Has all the appropriate Pieces, and you can play it for FREE. For the appropriate albums, press 'details', then pick a piece then choose either 'hifi' or 'lofi'
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2006
  5. Mar 5, 2006 #4


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    Corelli's Sonata Opus 1-5.

    Or any italian boroque.

  6. Mar 5, 2006 #5
    Agreed! Baroque music is the best period of music in history of music.
  7. Mar 5, 2006 #6
    I'm a big fan of The Brandenburg concertos (JS Bach), #3 and #4 (they're all good, those are just my favorites).
  8. Mar 5, 2006 #7
    I once read in psychology that classical music utilizes the whole brain and therefore the whole brain is being used which results in a person being smarter and being able to think straighter.
  9. Mar 5, 2006 #8
    At least this explains why my thinking is screwed up in so many circles. Too much Guns and Roses:biggrin:
  10. Mar 5, 2006 #9
    I would say that it depends less of the music and more on how you listen to music. If you just let it wash over you like background music, it won't do you any good in regard to abstract visualization. However, if you really concentrate on music and consider all perspectives - intensely focus in on one instrument at a time and follow how it moves within an ensemble; take a few leading instruments that are playing off each other, like guitars, vocals, or strings, and see how their individual melodies construct larger harmonies; or listen to a bigger picture of how the piece progresses, what sort of mood you think it's trying to set, the mood you actually experience, and then try to figure out what specific elements in the piece allow it to achieve that mood. If you can get into the habit of doing these things when you listen to music (any type of music, really, though listening to music with relatively simple or similar forms may become a bit boring for such an analysis) then I think you'll improve your ability to visualize abstractly. After all, when you take some seemingly random waveform and seperate it in your mind into different instruments and then analyze them, I would think that it takes quite a bit of abstract visualization (or auralization?). Knowing some music theory helps too.

    Of course, that takes a lot of concentration and if you get use to doing that when you listen to music, it will become very hard to multitask with music in the background (there's no music in the car when I drive through the city). If you're not looking to make music the "MS Windows" of your mental resources, I would say that anything with a good beat but not too recognizable or singable (lest you become distracted) may be good for keeping you on task.
  11. Mar 5, 2006 #10
    Good stuff! Thanks. I'm trying Bach Cello Suites and violin sonatas and partitas (whatever a partita is :-). http://magnatune.com is a good site for sampling.
  12. Mar 5, 2006 #11
    There are different kind of Baroque suits: a collection of baroque dance movements; Allemande, Corrente, Ciaconna, Loure, Sarabande and so on. There are different kind of collections of these pieces as well, like French overtures or french suites.

    Partitas are considered the most difficult collection of barque dances of a single instrument (in most cases)

    Strictly defining, the Cello suites are really 'partitas', but the name stuck when first mentioned.

    Agreed. It must be stated that ANY kind of music in the background can be a distracting factor in terms of working. Hence, when talking about 'enhancing the mind', we are talking more of free-time music where the person can rever in the great melodies of music and think appropriate thoughts.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2006
  13. Mar 5, 2006 #12
    I with you on that my friend! Energy is good.


    [uh... "recalcitrant" - interesting word]
  14. Mar 5, 2006 #13


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    I think it all depends on your personal taste in music. If it's something you really like, it'll get you energized, but if you don't like it, it doesn't matter if it works for someone else. I work best with hard rock, heavy metal, some pop music, a lot of 80s dance music, some country...anything with a hard, driving rhythm. Classical is more relaxing for me, so not conducive to getting work done. Rather, it's something that I would listen to when I don't need to work and just want to unwind before going back to work, or when I have a day off work to relax. For others, that's what they listen to when they want to focus on work.
  15. Mar 5, 2006 #14
    hmm i think it's a toss-up between baroque & renaissance. if you like bach because of his counterpoint/canons/etc that sort of music was going out of style in bach's time. however the renaissance was the golden age of polyphony; many of the composers during that time completely leave bach in the shade. i think bach wrote some stuff with <6-7 parts; thomas tallis & alessandro striggio wrote motets with 40 parts! johannes ockeghem wrote a 36-part canon if you can believe that. i think the most bach wrote a canon for was 6 parts, in his musical offering. if you're interested in counterpoint bach is simply no match for many renaissance composers. not that i don't like his music or that he was a bad composer, but he's definitely not the absolute greatest anymore. there was a time when i thought bach was but i guess i've branched out since then.

    i think a good representative renaissance work is giovanni pierluigi da palestrina's missa papae marcelli. as the urban legend goes, it allegedly saved church music from the draconian reforms of the council of trent. imho it's one of the few truly perfect pieces of music ever written. it's usually paired on cd with gregorio allegri's miserere. that work also has a somewhat intersesting history to it. it was the first piece of music ever bootlegged. :tongue2: apparently it was featured in chariots of fire; it was the music being sung in some cathedral (?) i haven't seen that movie so i wouldn't know.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2006
  16. Mar 5, 2006 #15


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    And very accurate in my case. Always have been, always will be. :biggrin:
  17. Mar 5, 2006 #16
    So how does one buy classical music? It seems like there are numerous cds of classical music, but I am sure there are some differences, and that some are crap, and others are great, so what is the key here? Thanks!
  18. Mar 5, 2006 #17
    I like to play my own music before I study! NOt only do you listen but you create.

    Although I will say anything by Bach is good enough.
  19. Mar 5, 2006 #18
    Listen to the radio for about a year. Then you will be able to identify all the good stuff. Now, when it comes to seeing a live concert, that is done by trial and error. Just don't waste a penny on Leonard Slatkin. He will play a load of crap and charge you a lot just because it’s at the Kennedy Center. My god he played some nasty songs. I never saw so many people leave the Kennedy Center so fast after he was done. No encore's when he is conducting, that's for damn sure.
  20. Mar 5, 2006 #19

    I think I bought most of my Bach CDs at Barnes and Noble. The recordings were of one orchestra or another from London (The particular orchestra wasn't important to me at the time, sometimes it makes a difference though, as sometimes I want a particular performance or soloist). Amazon will have them as well.

    As for quality, the key is the group. Generally though, any group commercially selling a classical recording will be good, even if they're not the best. I've never heard a commercially available classical recording that was 'crap' though some groups are better than others.
  21. Mar 6, 2006 #20
    There are some recordings of performances that are so dull they aren't worth listening to. Once in a while you find one that is outright strange. It's also a good idea to stay away from "historic" performances, like, recorded in the 1930's. Start off by sticking with the most recently recorded ones and the sound quality should be excellent.
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