Brock event to explore science behind what draws people to music

MEDIA RELEASE: Sept 6 2023 – R0079

Whether its rhythm causes an unconscious sway or its lyrics evoke a swell of emotion, a song can strike a different chord from one set of ears to another.

An upcoming Brock University event aims to unpack the science behind what drives people to love and connect with the music that they do.

Presented in partnership with the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC), The Music of Listening dives into the art of music making and the science of listening to music. The event will feature the work of Susan Rogers, a professor of cognitive neuroscience in the Music Production and Engineering Department at Berklee College of Music.

Prior to her academic career, Rogers worked as an accomplished sound engineer and record producer for musicians such as Prince, David Byrne and Barenaked Ladies.

Tickets for the Tuesday, Oct. 24 event, which takes place from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the PAC in downtown St. Catharines, are now available for purchase through the art centre’s website and are pay-what-you-can, with a suggested price of $20.

In addition to sharing stories from her life in the recording industry, Rogers will discuss music cognition and perception, and why individuals are attracted to the types of music they listen to.

“Your brain over a lifetime of listening to music became finely honed for what I like to call the music of you,” says Rogers. “Your listening brain is different from everyone else’s, which gives you a unique response to any given record.”

These individual differences are both marvellous and frustrating, she says, from both scientific and record producing perspectives.

“Even some of the greatest record makers — and I’m thinking of Prince here — did not know for sure what was going to hit,” she says. “It’s a very nuanced and exciting topic.”

In her talk, Rogers will discuss the seven dimensions of musical listening, or as she describes it, “the seven ways in which a listener can receive a little bit of dopamine, a little neural treat, from listening to a record,” she says.

Rogers explains that a person might like a certain song because they love dancing to its rhythm or they get emotional listening to its lyrics. Another song might resonate with someone because they find the sound design exciting or it ignites their imagination.

“I’m hoping listeners will come away with a sense of their own listener profile and a better vocabulary for describing their musical taste,” she says.

The event will also feature a live music ‘record pull’ with local recording artist Mark Lalama. Rogers and Lalama will take turns playing snippets of music and explaining the features of each song that excite them.

The record pull’s goal is to hear a song with new ears, says Rogers, “and you may just learn to love another style or type of music.”

Rogers will be available during the event’s intermission to sign her new book, This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You, co-authored with Ogi Ogas. Books can also be purchased on site from local retailer Someday Books.

Complementing The Music of Listening event will be a film screening of Purple Rain on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are $9.50 for the general public, $7.50 for Film House members.

During her time in Niagara, Rogers will also be giving private lectures to Brock University students and faculty with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Faculty of Mathematics and Science.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

– 30 –

Categories: Media releases