Research Topic

Neuroscience and New Music: Assessing Behavioral and Cerebral Aspects of Its Perception, Cognition, Induction, and Entrainment

About this Research Topic

Is “New Music” an umbrella term for canonical highbrow and sophisticated music—Musique Concrète, electronic synthesis, Elektronische Musik, the controversial Second Vienna School, free and serial atonal and pointillist compositions, spectral music, microtonal music, and many other styles—or does New Music also embrace popular genres such as electronics and dance music?

Experimentation and transformation—and a growing divide between popular and formal music—characterize the development of the conceptualization, composition, and performance of music over the past 120 years. Recent developments in the domains of Ambient, Sound Art, and Postclassical Minimal Music, however, may reunite electronic and formal music with a shared reliance on musical sounds as a constitutive category. Thus, we ask, what are sound processing mechanisms that transcend the limitations of musical genres and that can be generalized in terms of the biological underpinnings of making sense of music?

This Research Topic encompasses the application of neuroimaging techniques to investigate the processing of New Music in people with different degrees of musical expertise and to investigate the relationships between behavioral and brain responses. It covers three major themes: (i) the demarcation of New Music, with an emphasis on the synthesis and modification of musical sound and musical syntax or lack thereof, (ii) the actual processing of New Music, with a distinction between perception, cognition, induction, and entrainment, and (iii) the neural correlates of these levels of processing and the neuroimaging techniques for their assessment.

We invite scientists working in disciplines such as neuroscience, musicology, biology, psychology, sound engineering, and psychoacoustics to submit original empirical research and theoretical articles on the processing of New Music.

Articles of interest may include, but are not limited to, the following research areas:
• Sound and timbre perception and their neural correlates, i.e., brain functioning (as measured by EEG, fMRI) and or biochemical responses, in dynamic contexts.
• The distribution of music processing in distinct areas of the brain (cortical, subcortical, brainstem) and their temporal functional connectivity and structural connectivity, also as a function of musical experience/expertise.
• The impact of musical sounds on emotional/affective responses, comparing different musical styles, but also different acoustic manipulations of specific musical excerpts.
• The limitations of the human brain to process syntax in the structure of New Music and its assessment at the neuronal level; possible learning effects and their impact on cerebral processing and structure
• The role of received musical training and or experience on cognitive abilities such as executive function, cognitive flexibility, working memory, etc.
• The perception of sonic waveforms such as sine, square, sawtooth, and triangle. Could these keystones of classical synthesis provide a useful reference set for the investigation of the neural correlates of timbre processing?
• The effects of synthetic modulation of sounds
• The investigating of localized processing in the brain apropos different types of music, e.g., pumping beats as opposed to highly structured and complex musical sequences.
• Other related areas of research


Keywords: New Music, Musique Concrète, Sound Art, Neuroimaging, Microtonal Music, Music Performance, Music Expression, Synthetic Music, Experimental Music, Neuroscience of Music, Microtonality, Avant-Garde Music


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Is “New Music” an umbrella term for canonical highbrow and sophisticated music—Musique Concrète, electronic synthesis, Elektronische Musik, the controversial Second Vienna School, free and serial atonal and pointillist compositions, spectral music, microtonal music, and many other styles—or does New Music also embrace popular genres such as electronics and dance music?

Experimentation and transformation—and a growing divide between popular and formal music—characterize the development of the conceptualization, composition, and performance of music over the past 120 years. Recent developments in the domains of Ambient, Sound Art, and Postclassical Minimal Music, however, may reunite electronic and formal music with a shared reliance on musical sounds as a constitutive category. Thus, we ask, what are sound processing mechanisms that transcend the limitations of musical genres and that can be generalized in terms of the biological underpinnings of making sense of music?

This Research Topic encompasses the application of neuroimaging techniques to investigate the processing of New Music in people with different degrees of musical expertise and to investigate the relationships between behavioral and brain responses. It covers three major themes: (i) the demarcation of New Music, with an emphasis on the synthesis and modification of musical sound and musical syntax or lack thereof, (ii) the actual processing of New Music, with a distinction between perception, cognition, induction, and entrainment, and (iii) the neural correlates of these levels of processing and the neuroimaging techniques for their assessment.

We invite scientists working in disciplines such as neuroscience, musicology, biology, psychology, sound engineering, and psychoacoustics to submit original empirical research and theoretical articles on the processing of New Music.

Articles of interest may include, but are not limited to, the following research areas:
• Sound and timbre perception and their neural correlates, i.e., brain functioning (as measured by EEG, fMRI) and or biochemical responses, in dynamic contexts.
• The distribution of music processing in distinct areas of the brain (cortical, subcortical, brainstem) and their temporal functional connectivity and structural connectivity, also as a function of musical experience/expertise.
• The impact of musical sounds on emotional/affective responses, comparing different musical styles, but also different acoustic manipulations of specific musical excerpts.
• The limitations of the human brain to process syntax in the structure of New Music and its assessment at the neuronal level; possible learning effects and their impact on cerebral processing and structure
• The role of received musical training and or experience on cognitive abilities such as executive function, cognitive flexibility, working memory, etc.
• The perception of sonic waveforms such as sine, square, sawtooth, and triangle. Could these keystones of classical synthesis provide a useful reference set for the investigation of the neural correlates of timbre processing?
• The effects of synthetic modulation of sounds
• The investigating of localized processing in the brain apropos different types of music, e.g., pumping beats as opposed to highly structured and complex musical sequences.
• Other related areas of research


Keywords: New Music, Musique Concrète, Sound Art, Neuroimaging, Microtonal Music, Music Performance, Music Expression, Synthetic Music, Experimental Music, Neuroscience of Music, Microtonality, Avant-Garde Music


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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