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Music as Biology

What We Like to Hear and Why

The course will explore the tone combinations that humans consider consonant or dissonant, the scales we use, and the emotions music elicits, all of which provide a rich set of data for exploring music and auditory aesthetics in a biological framework. Analyses of speech and musical databases are consistent with the idea that the chromatic scale (the set of tones used by humans to create music), consonance and dissonance, worldwide preferences for a few dozen scales from the billions that are possible, and the emotions elicited by music in different cultures all stem from the relative similarity of musical tonalities and the characteristics of voiced (tonal) speech. Like the phenomenology of visual perception, these aspects of auditory perception appear to have arisen from the need to contend with sensory stimuli that are inherently unable to specify their physical sources, leading to the evolution of a common strategy to deal with this fundamental challenge.

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Duke University

Rating 3.7 based on 105 ratings
Length 7 weeks
Starts Jul 6 (3 days ago)
Cost $49
From Duke University via Coursera
Instructor Dale Purves
Download Videos On all desktop and mobile devices
Language English
Subjects Science Art & Design Humanities
Tags Life Sciences Biology Arts And Humanities Music And Art Basic Science

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What people are saying

According to other learners, here's what you need to know

human auditory system in 3 reviews

Good course, and a very interesting overview of the human auditory system, the significance of the harmonic series, and a biological perspective on what attracts us to music and how we have developed a musical language.

Good course, and a very interesting overview of the human auditory system, the significance of the harmonic series, and a biological perspective on what attracts us to music and how we have developed a musical language.

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scientific background in 3 reviews

He did a great job explaining difficult concepts until you GOT it, even without a scientific background.

Not having a scientific background, I found some concepts a bit challenging and took some effort to get.

also think in 3 reviews

I also think the course would benefit by the inclusion of a Music Theorist to explain the musical concepts, as the Instructor is a Neuroscientist, and misspoke on music theory a few times; it also would have broken up the uniformity of mostly one speaker throughout a 6-week course.

I think it was done in a way to allow people with no music knowledge to take the course, but i also think that is ambitious to pretend that these people follow up from ground up until modes and scales in a 6 week course, and for those who already know the music theory, it gets slow and cumbersome.

even though in 3 reviews

I did stick it through to the end of the course, and even though I personally thought it would get better every time I progressed through one lesson to the next, I was always disappointed.

However, week 1 is persistently listed as "overdue" even though it was actually completed ahead of time.

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along with in 3 reviews

The instructor is very narrative in his lecture style, so I found it helpful to follow along with the transcriptions - he tends to talk on about a point, and it is easy to miss the main point in all of his clarification.

Instructor gives clear lectures, and slides are useful, along with additional reading.

no mention in 2 reviews

For example, in one quiz, there was a question about Galileo, but there was no mention of Galileo in the lecture for that week, and, a lot of the PDF'S were repetitive and not diverse in the material being taught.

There was nearly no mention of rhythm and its importance in music, as relates to biology and/or emotion, and no mention of how those rhythms relate to heartbeat.

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Coursera

&

Duke University

Rating 3.7 based on 105 ratings
Length 7 weeks
Starts Jul 6 (3 days ago)
Cost $49
From Duke University via Coursera
Instructor Dale Purves
Download Videos On all desktop and mobile devices
Language English
Subjects Science Art & Design Humanities
Tags Life Sciences Biology Arts And Humanities Music And Art Basic Science

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