- Book author
- Keith Blanchard
- Peter Gabriel
Music is a universal human experience that’s been with us since the dawn of time. You’ve listened to music all your life . . . but have you ever wondered why?
It turns out music isn’t just about entertainment—it’s a deeply embedded, subtly powerful means of communication. Songs resonate with your brain wave patterns and drive changes in your brain: creating your moods, consolidating your memories, strengthening your habits (the good ones and the bad ones alike) . . . even making you fall in or out of love.
Your music is molding you, at a subconscious level, all day long. And now, for the first time ever, you can take charge.
From executive editor Peter Gabriel and the minds behind It’s All in Your Head (the ultimate user’s guide for your brain), Reverberation unlocks a world where you can actively leverage the power of music to improve and enhance every aspect of your life. You’ll learn specific songs and techniques to help you sleep better, induce creative breakthroughs, be more productive, have better sex, and a whole lot more.
You’ll discover the amazing work happening at the intersection of music, science, technology, and medicine. The authors spoke to dozens of neuroscientists making exciting breakthroughs, as well as top recording artists like David Byrne, Branford Marsalis, Hans Zimmer, Mick Fleetwood, and Sheila E. to gain the music maker’s perspective.
And you’ll learn how music is already being strategically applied to break addiction and reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s, build more productive and creative teams, develop intuitive personalized technology, and is otherwise changing . . . well, everything.
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
It was a typical Saturday night in 1978. Folks were out, my big sister, Lisa, and her friend Susan Higgins were on babysitting detail, and I was a little pest. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” blared from Lisa’s room, and I was able to sneak in to witness the commotion.
The epic song had reached that familiar verse—the Phil Rizzuto baseball part—and the girls proceeded to provide me with a way-too-young-to- know, base-by-base life lesson I’ve not soon forgotten. “...He’s rounding first and really turning it on now, he’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for second...” There I was with a big, stupid smile, soaking it all in.
It was a great first track for my own personal playlist. It never felt so good, it never felt so right.
Lisa passed away a few years later, but left me a most precious gift—Styx and Zeppelin, Foreigner and Andy Gibb, The Police and Peter Gabriel, keeping her spirit alive and launching my love of music.
Now, lifetimes later, I’m learning to appreciate my music in a whole new way, using learnings from neuroscience to leverage my favorite songs to improve my life in multiple ways: helping me focus, stimulating my creativity, calming me down, helping me sleep. My new journey is all about uncovering how music’s magic happens—and it’s a hell of a ride.
Joining me on this awesome journey is Peter Gabriel, himself—a giant WOW! for me—and his talented daughter, Anna. We’re working tirelessly to get to the bottom of all this: to discover why our brains love music so much and how, in fact, it can help us do everything we do, well...better.
The book in your hands is the follow-up to our first brain endeavor, It’s All In Your Head, and plants our flag in the field of music—sort of a debut track kicking off what we hope will ultimately be a lengthy playlist of memorable hits.
So stay tuned as we develop this core idea into a world of multi-channel entertainment. There’s a lot more detail to follow.
Come join us on this brain train, and learn how to do everything you do better with music.
- MICHAEL HERMANN
BY PETER GABRIEL
I’ve always thought of my music collection as a box of pills—a toolkit for transformations. Different music serves different goals: Music can be used to take us into dance, battle, sport, ritual, sex, serenity. It can change how we function, in groups or as individuals, how our minds and bodies work, how we feel and see the world around us. Even how we see ourselves.
Once, I jumped off a tall stage during the last number of a set. A wild dancer had crossed into my line of descent, and we collided, and something snapped in my leg. I was lifted back onstage, and finished the rest of the number on my knees. The band walked off, but I remained there, unable to move—they thought I was just hamming it up. I had to be lifted off the stage, and my leg began to hurt like hell. But what was really interesting to me was that, even though I knew something was wrong, I had felt no pain at all in the last three minutes. The adrenaline provided by the music, the crowd, and performing had completely anesthetized my broken leg.
The more research that emerges, the more powerful music appears to be. In this book, we will explore the special relationship between music and the brain, the engine that processes these vibrations, sounds, and harmonies and turns them into all manner of stimuli and action. Of all the senses, sound seems to go through less mental filtering before it manifests in the body (with the exception of language, which seems to follow a much more circuitous route). Low frequencies can vibrate our bodies directly, and the rest of the frequencies seem to coax out specific feelings without a lot of mental effort. We try to make sense of all the inputs, create order out of chaos, work out who we are and where we need to go, and find some meaning in the cacophony that bombards us.
Pattern recognition appears to be one of the principal functions of the brain, and the ability to synchronize your brain to a musical rhythm is present across cultures. When we listen to music, we are detecting and anticipating its form, trying to find a match with anything else in our memories and social filters. Repetition of sound—in rhythm, harmony, melody, or words —can hold a special power. How many times do you do something before it gets boring...and can you transcend that boredom and use the repetition to take you somewhere else?
We used to have a house in Senegal, where music and dance are still as much a part of everyday life as food. I saw a mother teaching her baby, who could barely stand, how to dance. She was clicking her tongue while her baby moved in time with a big smile, flapping his arms and bouncing up and down. Although I am not known for my skills as a dancer, I was always being invited into the center of the dance circle. In Senegal, being an awkward white man is no excuse for not dancing, singing, or playing—it’s just what you do. There is so much freedom in surrendering to the power of music and allowing it to take your body and mind to places you don’t normally go.
When writing songs, I am very conscious of what feelings I am aiming to create, and occasionally I will have a very specific goal. A song like “I Grieve” was intended to give people a tool to help them come to terms with loss. I had been looking for something that could help me, and I hadn’t found what I was looking for. In most spiritual traditions, a search for such meaning is associated with silence: a voluntary choice to look for more with less. Does a sound mean more when served in silence, like a drop of water in a pool? Context is another important factor when trying to unravel these mysteries of music and mind.
We are entering an age of big changes: biomonitoring, genetic manipulation, artificial intelligence, and—potentially the most disruptive of all—the BCI, or brain-computer interface. Whether we connect directly to the circuits of the brain or access them noninvasively, extraordinary things are already happening as this new frontier opens up. The ability to read, write, and translate brain activity is about to turn the world upside down.
It will also help clarify how the sensory inputs activated by music can be engaged to change our behavior. Many years ago, we did a show called The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and my plan for the beginning was to take brain and body readings from each member of the band and turn them into music. It was 1974, and the technology wasn’t yet able to deliver what I had imagined. Today, it’s all there—and more. If we choose, we can all become the creators of our own self-generated sound and light show, which, using some smart AI, we could learn to design ourselves to serve our needs at any time. Bringing AI into the musical mix will allow us to turn our own brain activity into self-generated music: less deejay, more “me”-jay.
We all have different ways of interacting with music, and for many of us, listening is just something we do without a lot of thought, like breathing. But if we can start to understand this mercurial stuff called music a bit better, it might give us a powerful toolkit to deploy whenever and however it is needed—music as medicine, as educator, as therapist. This book is not going to provide all the answers, but I hope it will allow us to ask better questions.