Music, Mind and Meaning

About a million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the mega-continent, I was a PhD student at the University of Maryland, studying Philosophy. Yes, Philosophy. And no, I had no plans to open a “Philosophy and Tackle Shop” (ha ha, Dad). Anyway, I was happily blending a pair of disciplines, Cognitive Neuroscience with the Philosophy of Science (I had lots of opinions), when I finally ran out of money. Such is life. 

And as is the way of things, “things” have a tendency to ebb, flow, ebb and swamp. Today is one of the latter.

This evening, the Music, Mind and Meaning conference will open at the Peabody Institute at The Johns Hopkins University in downtown Baltimore. One of my old high school friends, who just happened to parallel my course of study with his own in Linguistics, is an Associate Professor at SUNY Stony Brook and happened to be coming to town for the event.

“How fascinating,” I said.

“You should go!” said he.

So, I am.

Here’s the blurb from the website:

The Music, Mind, Meaning Conference will bring together scientists from the field of music cognition and renowned musicians for a two-day event to explore the relationships between music and science at the Peabody Institute of Music. The events will include presentations from leading scientists and a special musical performance by the Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Vijay Iyer and tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas, Chair of Jazz Studies at Peabody. Keynote speakers will be Drs. David Huron, Aniruddh Patel, and Isabelle Peretz, three remarkable scientists who have led groundbreaking studies of how and why people have engaged in musical behaviors throughout human history. Conference participants will include scientists, clinicians, musicians, students and interested members of the public. Presentations will explore the idea of musical meaning by examining issues of expectation, creativity, evolution, culture, language, emotion and memory from the viewpoint of cognitive psychology, musicology and auditory neuroscience. The conference will take place January 30-31, 2014 at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and is generously supported by a conference grant from the Brain Sciences Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Here’s the delicious bit: I’m going to go and cover it. They’re giving me a press pass! Woo hop!

So, I’m gonna go, take the day and talk smart to a bunch of scary people. I’ll do my best to digest it and bring that back here. I mean, I’m not going to promise that I’ll actually learn anything (don’t wanna be too hasty), but I’m almost embarrassed to say I’m really excited to go.

I wonder if they’ll freak out if I bring my giant camera?