Bharucha noted that humans are capable of creativity in a number of domains, not just music, but in games of chess and in language, for instance. There are commonalities to these domains. "One is there is a structure, a framework, then there are all kinds of, an infinite number of possibilities within that framework,” Bharucha said.
The question is why? Bharucha said he believed creative domains enable humans to connect with one another and forms groups in which individuals are synchronized, creating a sense of group identity.
The appeal of music goes beyond pleasure; people are also drawn to sad and angry music, Bharucha said. "The notion of resonance and synchronization is much more important than making you happy or lifting your spirits."
Iyer, too, pointed to the importance of music to for creating a common experience.
"In my own experience playing for audiences, that is the primary force that I feel is at work is that sense that we are in a room experiencing this together, and I think we tend to forget that because we all stockpile music by the terabyte and keep it in our shirt pocket," he said.
Music also has a therapeutic power. Panelist Concetta Tomaino, a music therapist, works with patients with neurological problems such as brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease and stroke that have caused them to lose functions, such as memory, and motor and verbal skills.
Yet the structure and emotional content of music can help them to access these functions again, she said. "It speaks to the structures that are shared by musical perception and musical ability with other functions."
This panel was part of a four-part series on consciousness, moderated by public radio host Paulson and presented by the Nour Foundation.
- Creative Genius: The World's Greatest Minds
- Inside the Brain: A Journey Through Time
- 7 Mind-Bending Facts About Dreams
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