Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sound Experiments

Word on the street is that babies really like to listen to Mozart. It's said that the composer's phrasing is short and resolved, it's music filled with harmony and movement but at the same time simple. It's said babies could even grow smarter just by hearing Mozart. Even Albert Einstein called Mozart's music "so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master." (That quote is from an amazing "art-meets-science" essay in The New York Times on the parallels between the work of Einstein and Mozart that is definitely worth the read---though too bad it's now moved into the "pay to read" category. If you're really interested, you can find it at the link below.)

But while Mozart did work to calm the nerves of Amadisto's frayed parents, the baby only seemed mildly amused by the music. He definitely heard it---his face widened and his eyes opened up looking the for source of the sound---but he didn't appear to be very moved. "Probably too simple for him," noted his free-jazz-loving father.

However, when we played Native Dancer, a wonderful 1975 Brazilian jazz fusion album by Wayne Shorter and Milton Nascimento, the child really lit up. He would actually stop what he was doing (which was likely eating, pooping, or sleeping because these are Amado's primary hobbies) and you could see in his eyes that he was listening and trying to figure out what the music was. It may be my imagination, but I thought Amado was most interested in the songs "Ponta De Areia" (which is a sung by Nascimento and sounds like it was originally a lullaby) and "Joanna's Theme" (which features beautiful harp-like piano soloing by Herbie Hancock).

Both Wayne Shorter (sax) and Milton Nascimento (voice) have a beautiful, ethereal, child-like sound to their playing and this may have something to do with why it appealed to Amado. It could be that Native Dancer has that stunning beauty common to a lot of the Brazilian music I hear. Either that or (watch out) jazz fusion is making a big comeback with the youngsters!

Here is the link to the Einstein - Mozart pay-to-read essay:

You can check out Native Dancer at this link:

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