Why your brain craves Beethoven

Picture of Ludwig van Beethoven
“We all know that music has the power to move us, to trigger a staggering range of emotions, tell stories, calm us, make us dance, make us cry – but how, exactly, does music do it? A special performance called “Beethoven and Your Brain” explored that question earlier this week in front of a sell-out audience at the Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall in Toronto. The event was billed as a “first-of-its-kind partnership” between an orchestra, a conductor and a neuroscientist.

The neuroscientist was Daniel Levitin, a psychologist at McGill University and author of the bestsellers This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs. He was joined onstage by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and its conductor, Edwin Outwater. Together they took the audience a guided tour of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, perhaps the best-known work in the Western musical canon. Audience members were given electronic “clickers” with which they could respond to Levitin’s questions and voice their own reactions to what was being played; the results were displayed on a giant screen in real time.” (via New Scientist CultureLab)