Is Empathy the Essence of Soul Music?

DENIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS The genre’s sound, sentiments, and politics all aim for the same connection. by SPENCER KORNHABER One of the saxophonist Kirk Whalum’s earliest memories is of hearing beautiful music in the black Baptist church where his father pastored, and detesting it. “I love the Lord, he heard my cries,” the congregants had sung, with each syllable landing upon a different note. The hymn “reminded me of my grandmother,” Whalum said in a session about “The Genius of Soul” at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is cosponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. “My grandmother was a domestic. … Continue reading Is Empathy the Essence of Soul Music?

The Smaller the Theater, the Faster the Music

image edited by Fernando Kaskais Philip Glass and Fredericka FosterChance Yeh / Getty Images; Ben Shapiro Composer Philip Glass talks time with painter Fredericka Foster. BY PHILIP GLASS & FREDERICKA FOSTERINTRODUCTION BY BETH JACOBS How is composing music of a given meter similar to painting flowing water? In this conversation between the composer and musician Philip Glass and the painter Fredericka Foster, two artists set out to tackle this question, before flowing into questions of memory, physics, and death. Glass and Foster met in the late 1990s through their mutual interest in Buddhism. They shared a teacher, Gelek Rimpoche, and … Continue reading The Smaller the Theater, the Faster the Music


by Anna Hunt, Staff Writer Waking Times The combination of meditation and music may be one of the simplest ways to fend off depression. The two have no unpleasant side-effects. Nearly everyone can enjoy them, and the cost is negligible. They can be used together or stand-alone to reduce stress, regulate mood and reconnect with one’s soul. They are an easy way to actively nurture our mood. As well, they can help mitigate the stressed-out and overwhelmed human condition that has become all too common. Forces of Modern Life that Lead to Depression It’s truly no surprise that depression is so prevalent … Continue reading MEDITATION AND MUSIC MAY BE THE IDEAL COMBO TO FEND OFF DEPRESSION

What Time Feels Like When You’re Improvising

The neurology of flow states. BY HEATHER BERLIN Don’t look at the clock! Now tell me: How much time has passed since you first logged on to your computer today? Time may be a property of physics, but it is also a property of the mind, which ultimately makes it a product of the brain. Time measures out and shapes our lives, and how we live our lives in turn affects how we perceive the passage of time. Your sense of time is malleable and subjective—it changes in response to changing contexts and input, and it can be distorted when … Continue reading What Time Feels Like When You’re Improvising

Performing CPR? Humming the Macarena could help

image edited by Fernando Kaskais  ♬♬♬ ‘Dale a tu cuerpo alegría Macarena, que tu cuerpo es pa’ darle alegría cosa buena, dale a tu cuerpo alegría, Macarena, hey Macarena!’ ♬♬♬ Photograph: Ruth Jenkinson/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley The song’s 103bpm tempo was found to help people perform chest compressions at the correct rate by Nicola Davis Humming the Spanish dance song Macarena could save lives, according to research that suggests it helps people administer chest compressions at the correct rate while performing CPR. The study compared the rate and depth of compressions 164 students performed on a mannequin over the course of … Continue reading Performing CPR? Humming the Macarena could help

Drums, Lies, and Audiotape

ILLUSTRATION BY DANIEL HERTZBERG When I was invited to drum in Ghana, I gladly accepted. Then something went wrong. BY ALEXANDER GELFAN My wife Ingrid and I had been in Aburi, Ghana for just over a week when our host, Kwame Obeng, informed me that I’d be joining the royal drummers for a performance at the chief’s palace the following afternoon, in celebration of an important holy day. It’s not as if I was unprepared. I’d first met Obeng three years earlier, when he came to Toronto to coach a drumming troupe made up of Ghanaian immigrants and a lone … Continue reading Drums, Lies, and Audiotape

The chords of the universe

Photo by Edward Webb/Gallery Stock It’s no surprise that mathematics has influenced music. But did you know that the influence goes both ways? Eli Maor is a former professor of the history of mathematics at Loyola University Chicago. He is the author of eight previous books, the latest of which is Music by the Numbers: From Pythagoras to Shoenberg (2018). Published in association with Princeton University Press an Aeon Partner Edited by Marina Benjamin My interest in the relations between music and mathematics started at an early age. My grandfather played his violin for me when I was about five years old, and I … Continue reading The chords of the universe