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Science Nation: Music and Creativity

3 minutes

[plucking notes]

(male narrator) The instrument is the sarod, and music professor Parag Chordia is a master. Music is both his passion and his work. He wants to know more about how sharps and flats change the way we think. One of the interesting things about recent work in cognitive neuroscience is the extent to which we are many people. There are so many different brain networks which are responsible for differing tasks.

(narrator) With support from the National Science Foundation, Chordia is researching the neurological roots of the creative process. He says music is an important catalyst to grasping abstract concepts and unleashing the imagination.

(Chordia) To be a great engineer, to produce innovative products, and to advance the frontiers of science, you must be creative.

(narrator) At Georgia Tech's Music Intelligence Lab, Chordia is investigating whether real-time creativity like improvising in a jazz band, uses the brain in a different way.

(Chordia) When a person improvises, are they entering into a uniquely creative state? And if so, what's that state about?

(narrator) Brain scans show a distinct difference when professional musicians are playing composed music versus improvising. His research also aims at developing computer tools that use music to enhance learning. How can we create interactions between humans and computers that do concrete things, like improve your math skills or allow you to learn an instrument?

[off key] ♪ Singing very badly in public ♪

(narrator) For people who think they have no musical skills, Chordia created a popular iPhone app called "LaDiDa." It makes most everyone sound better.

[auto-tuned] ♪ Here I am ♪

♪ Singing very badly in public ♪

(Chordia) It listens to your singing and composes matching music. Sing, and it makes something nice sounding, so you feel like singing more, having a musical experience.

(narrator) His research shows such a musical experience feeds the mind, sparking greater proficiency in science and technology. So the next time you want to sing, do it. It's good for you. For Science Nation, I'm Miles O'Brien.

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Georgia Tech's Parag Chordia believes music is a universal part of human culture, and his research shows music education can inspire greater interest in math, physics, and computer science. Chordia heads Georgia Tech's "Music Intelligence Group." With support from the National Science Foundation, his goals are to program computers to understand music and study the brains of professional musicians as they play composed music versus when they improvise.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

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