Monthly Archives: October 2011

I’d like to teach the world to siiiing! :)

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Let’s admit it, we’ve all sang our hearts out at least once in our lives. Even though we do not want to admit it, every person has a part in him that wants to be(or in some cases feels like) a singer. Whenever the tune of our favorite song, old or new, comes to play in the radio waves, we just can’t help but sing along or at least hum along. Even the toughest of guys sang along to the tune of “Nobody”, even it was such a girly pop song. But the big question on my mind is.. WHY? Why do people sing? Why is it that even though we are out of tune or do not know the lyrics, we still continue on belting out on songs?

This is a bigger question for us Filipinos. We all know we looooove to use the Karaoke machine. Heck, we even own 4 of them for other people to rent(and for us to use when no one rents the rest HAHA). Most of the people who rent our videoke machines use them for parties. Christmas parties, birthday parties, anniversaries, etc.So this means that singing is a way for us filipinos to celebrate big events and milestones in our lives. But what is it really in singing that keeps us coming back for more, even though most of our neighbors already file noise reports because of us?

Well, those questions were answered by a study by Clift &

Hancox(2010) entitled “The significance of choral singing for sustaining psychological wellbeing”. In the study, they conducted large cross‐national survey of 1124 choral singers drawn from choirs in Australia, England and Germany who completed the questionnaire to measure physical, psychological, social and environmental wellbeing. Meanwhile, written accounts of the effects of choral singing on wellbeing and health were given in response to open questions.

The results were that 79% of the singers were contented with their health, and it is striking that a sense of ‘happiness’ produced by singing is a common reason why they report that they feel healthy. Also, the singers reported that singing is a way to relieve stress from the outside world. Nevertheless, it was found that there was variation in the extent to which singers endorse the idea that singing has benefits for their wellbeing, and an important finding is that women are more likely to report stronger benefits compared with men.

Okay, I agree with their results and I find it to be close to what I thought would come out of the study. However, I think what would be interesting to know if this is also applicable to the Filipino men, which we all know love to sing much more than other nationalities.

Theire study made me feel better about my shower singing, since I know that singing does not only strain my vocal chords but it also has positive effects on my emotional well-being. Apparantly, whenever I sing more, I get to release more emotions/stress building up inside of me. Whew! That’s a relief. Now I think I could belt out my favorite Adele song, “Someone Like You” with no hesitations and apprehensions whatsoever because I know that afterwards, I would feel better. Who knows? I might even record it on GarageBand and eventually become a recording artist!(NAT.)

P.S. You might also want to release some stress building up in you. If that’s the case, check out http://www.karaokeparty.com and let your inner Celine Di ‘Yon/Chos Groban shine! 😉

Clift, S. & Hancox, G. (2010). The significance of choral singing for sustaining psychological wellbeing: findings from a survey of choristers in England, Australia and Germany. Music Performance Research Copyright, 3(1), 79-96.

 

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Nostalgia.

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I am a proud 90’s baby.

I was born during the reign of baggy jeans and overalls.

I was born during the hype of the Power Rangers and F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

I was born during the era of Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 98o, and my all time favorite, *NSYNC. I am a proud *NSYNC fan (I have all their albums- including their Greatest Hits album. I’m just saying.).

For some reason, the music of the 90’s is what stuck to me the most. Whenever I would hear songs from this decade, I think not of the repetitive melodies and the ridiculously cheesy lines (including “I don’t know what he does to make you cry, but I’ll be there to make you smile” and “When I look into your eyes I know that it’s true. God must’ve spent a little more time on you,”). Instead, I recall that Christmas when we had to dance to Backstreet Boys in front of my whole family (getting P20 in exchange), that time when my cousins and I would sing along whenever Britney Spears’ new single would play on MTV, and that time when I would talk to my parents out loud whenever Eminem’s songs would play in the car, just to mask out all the cuss words in his songs.

I remember my childhood and the good (well, sometimes the bad) experiences linked to these songs. And honestly, nothing gives me the same kind of feeling. Listening to these kinds of music brings back nothing but good vibes.

Interestingly, it looks like several researchers feel the same way about their own generation’s music. Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E. investigated on the effects of felt emotion and arousal induced by music on memory performance. Emotion was measured by the participants’ ratings of the music’s valence, while arousal was measured based on the participants’ excitation levels upon listening to the music. The researchers were able to carry out their study using two conditions: an “emotion group” was asked to rate the music’s valence, intensity and arousal as it is being played (systematic processing), and a “time-estimation group” was asked to measure the length of the music being played (superficial processing). Upon being segregated randomly between the two conditions and actually undergoing their designated treatments, they were asked to rate the stimuli’s arousal, valence and emotional intensity. Two days after undergoing their corresponding treatments, the participants were tested on their ability to recognize the songs previously presented to them (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).

Their results show that their hypothesis regarding the effect of felt emotions does hold true. Music rated to be more positive was found to be positively related to their recognition ability (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008). Although they were able to relate the effect of emotions, they were not able to find significant results as to the effect of arousal on memory performance. Thus, their hypothesis that stimuli rated to have high arousal effects on the participants would be remembered better does not hold true (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).

The researchers predicted that the participants part of the “emotion group” would perform better at memory performance, being that they were subjected to deep and systematic processing, yet their results show that there is no significant different between the performance of the two groups. Such results are surprising, according to the researchers, yet they attribute such findings to their experimental conditions (Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E., 2008).

The researchers didn’t explicitly mention a particular cause to their findings. Based on the past topics discussed in class, I would say that melody schema would have played a role in the recognition of the tunes. Although it doesn’t directly explain the relationship between emotions and recognition, it would be possible that this would be partly responsible for recognition. The participants could have compared the music to their already stored schema and identified correctly based on this.

I could always rely on music to take me back to happier times. If you ask for my own explanation to their findings, I would simply say: People want and tend to remember things that remind them of instances that make them feel good.

I await for the day that researchers would find a concrete neurological basis to this fact (since according to these researchers, such studies are still taking place). Til then, I will enjoy my 90’s pop songs, with a big smile on my face. 🙂

Eschrich, S., Munte,T., Altenmuller,E. (2008). Unforgettable film music: The role of emotion in episodic long-term memory for music.BMC Neuroscience, 9. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/48.

JNN: Jeepney News Ngayon!

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I always observe people around me when I commute. When two people are talking inside a jeep with complete strangers, don’t you feel the urge to listen? I do. It’s fun listening to conversations of other people when you are bored to death inside public transportation. You may call it gossiping but I guess it’s harmless since I don’t really know them. When listening to them, I feel that I am also part of the conversation, knowing details about stranger’s lives. Feeling and resisting the urge to laugh at a joke is sometimes embarrassing but I guess it’s part of jeep or MRT entertainment – a mini show for that matter. – like The Buzz, SNN, E News, or Showbiz Central.

However, with the advent of new technology, mobile phones are now used for everyday conversations. In this public transportation scenario, many just resort to chit chatting with their friends through phone. Some with the actual phone itself and some even with wireless headsets that make them look like they’re talking to themselves (which is really annoying if you are not the one driving the train or jeep). The catch is, even though I enjoy overhearing live face-to-face conversations of people, I find people talking using moblile phones bothersome. Although I still feel the need to listen effect, I feel that he or she is disturbing my peaceful ride.

Have you ever experienced this? If yes, I think there is a study, which looks into this effect.

A study by Monk, Fellas and Ley entitled Hearing only one side of normal and mobile phone conversations demonstrated the intrusive effect of listening to cell phone conversations. They conducted a field experiment inside a train which tested their hypothesis that hearing only one side of a conversation makes it more noticeable and intrusive.

The employed two confederate actors who staged the same conversation about going on a holiday under three different conditions. The first condition was a cell phone condition, the second was a normal, co-present both audible condition and the last was a co-present only one audible condition. After their conversation, another experimenter approached the participant in order to ask for feedback. The participant answered five Likert scales rating the following statements:

1. The conversation was noticeable

2. I found the volume of the conversation annoying

3. The conversation was intrusive

4. I found myself listening to the conversation

5. The conversation was annoying

Results show that although all situations had an effect on the participants finding themselves listening to the conversation, the cell phone condition was rated more noticeable and intrusive than the normal, co-present both audible condition. The co-present only one-audible condition produced ratings equivalent to the cell phone condition. This clearly supports their hypothesis. The authors explained this effect as due to the manipulations of loudness in cell phone conversations. Raising one’s voice is a natural response to not being able to hear clearly and is common in personal stereo users such as cell phone users. There are also the negative attitudes towards cell phones due to the relative novelty of the technology, cultural stereotypes or bad experiences that make conversations in this medium produce negative affect.

I guess listening to people’s conversations is more interesting if it is multi-sensory. Perceiving speech and conversations are not just a factor of our auditory system but also our visual system. They’re a tag team. Not being able to see the person talked to in mobile phone conversations and not hearing it, leaves a big gap in our imagination to fill in. It’s also applicable if you can see both of them but not hear one. This might also result to misunderstanding. And it actually takes more cognitive capacity and top down processing to understand the conversation and more so to enjoy listening to it.

The next time you feel the need-to-be-chismosa while in a public space, make sure you have motivation and the right cognitive capacity to clearly perceive and enjoy one-sided entertainment conversations.  Or better yet, just relax, enjoy your trip and listen to Adele. 🙂

Monk, A., Fellas, E., & Ley, E. (2004). Hearing only one side of normal and mobile phone conversations. Behavior & Information Technology, 23(5), 301-305.

Ansabe?

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Imagine. You’re inside your car, radio is on playing some random music. Suddenly you hear this unfamiliar song that you find interesting and you want to download it later into your mp3 player. Problem is the dj didn’t metion the title of the song at the beginning. Now what will you do?

For someone like me, I try to identify some lines in the the song and then Google it afterwards. This works, when the lyrics are clearly enunciated. But this strategy fails especially when the singer has a different accent, mumbles the lyrics, or sings from a skyscraper with volume barely above a whisper (Google: Skyscraper lyrics). This makes wish the radio has a replay button then hopelessly cry out, “ANSABE?”

ANSABE?

Aside from the voice quality, other characteristics influence effective and accurate perception of speech or musical lyrics.  One factor, which radios lack, is the corresponding visual stimulation. Facial expression, movement of the lips and hand gestures that are visually perceived, do not only enhance music appreciation, but also improves understanding of the lyrics. Particularly, lip reading has been found to significantly affect perception of musical lyrics.

A study conducted by Miguel Hidalgo-Barnes and Dominic W. Massaro(2007) has looked into  the effect of seeing a corresponding face in improving understanding of sung words.  For this study, they used phrases from the song “The Pressman” sung by a band called Primus. This particular song was chosen in order to prevent familiarity to the song from affecting the participants’ performance. By using a speech alignment program, the researchers were able to transform text and wave file into a computer animated face, which they prEach participant were subjected to three presentation conditions. .One involved purely auditory stimuli, wherein the participant hears the sound of the lyrics. The second condition involved visual stimuli.  For this, participants were presented with the previously aligned animated face mouthing the lyrics.  The last condition had the stimuli presented in both modes, auditory and visual. The participants task was to encode the lyrics they were able to understand and their performance was assessed by identifying the proportion of accurate words.

Results showed that word comprehension was significantly improved through bimodal presentation. 28% and 4% was the proportion of understood words in the auditory and visual lyrics, respectively. On the other hand, 33% of the words were understood when both the animated face was seen and the sound was heard. Indeed, visual information, particularly the singer’s face, improves perception of musical lyrics.

How then can we utilize these findings? For one, the music industry can take advantage of this information. To make sure the market can understand and perceive their songs’ lyrics, they may find live performances an effective way in expanding their fan base. Therefore, reaping all the big bucks. *Ka-ching ka-ching* For those who value their art more than its monetary equivalent, they may find this knowledge as a way to better share their craft to the people who truly appreciate- those who just find themselves crying while watching and listening to the live performances of their favorite artists in Youtube. The visual information provided by their face, does not only improve understanding of the words. Visual input also helps in expressing the emotions of the song and enabling the audience to relate better- as if those “hit-home-lines” aren’t enough.

With this, I leave you a clip of one of those artists that automatically sense up my lacrimal glands. You will never utter “Ansabe?” with Adele playing on loop.

References:

Hidalgo-Barnes, M., & Massaro, D. W. (2007). Read my lips: An animated face helps communicate musical lyrics. Psychomusicology, 19, 3-12.