14th February: Do musicians with perfect pitch have different brains?

Thursday 14th February 2019

Do musicians with perfect pitch have different brains? 

Perfect pitch, the much-lauded ability of some musicians to identify and name musical pitches in isolation. While perfect pitch is estimated to occur in 1 in 10,000 people, most musicians, if they don’t have it themselves, will know someone with perfect pitch. But do musicians with perfect pitch have different brains.

New research, published in the peer-reviewed neuroscience journal JNeurosci, has revealed that musicians with Absolute Pitch, have greater volume in their auditory cortex than musicians without the ability.The study compared the auditory cortex (the part of the temporal lobe that processes auditory information) structure of 61 age and sex matched groups of musicians with Absolute Pitch, musicians without Absolute Pitch, and a control group of participants without any musical training.

Image result for do all musicians have perfect pitch brains

The new research has begun to unravel the mystery, however, study shows AP musicians have significantly larger volume in early auditory cortex than non-AP musicians and non-musician controls, and that this increased volume is primarily devoted to broad frequency tuning.

The research also suggests that the relative contribution of genetics to incidences of Absolute Pitch may be more pronounced than previously thought, with nearly a quarter of the musicians with Absolute Pitch who took part in the study not beginning musical training until adolescence.

Leamington Music Festival hits 30

The 2019 Leamington Music Festival, running from 3 – 10 May 2019, will be the 30th event held over the first of the May bank holiday weekends since its beginning in 1990.

Taking place once again in the Assembly Hall of the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington, Richard Phillips MBE has directed all of these events from the start, when most of the events took place in Warwick. He says: ‘The Assembly Hall, which dates from 1814, is ideal for chamber music and particularly from the classical era. Each festival is strongly themed and I invite a mix of musicians well known to our public and always some new faces. The event attracts music-lovers from all over the UK, plus some visitors from abroad.’

Performance highlights include:

  • The Fitzwilliam String Quartet (4 May)
  • Singer and composer Roderick Williams (5 May)
  • The Martinů String Quartet joined by cellist Gemma Rosefield (6 May)
  • The Aronowitz Ensemble with pianist and composer Tom Poster (7 May)
  • The Takács String Quartet (pictured), closing the festival with two extra evening concerts to celebrate the 30th year (9 & 10 May)

There will also be four lunch time concerts to include the Leonore Piano Trio and Raphael Wallfisch accompanied by John York, as well as a talk given by Professor Brian Newbould and an organ recital by Jonathan Cunliffe.

Tickets on sale for first concert in ORA Singers’ Design Series

The first concert in ORA Singers’ eagerly-awaited Design Series takes place on Saturday 16 March at LSO St Luke’s, London at 7.30pm.

The concert, entitled ‘Desires’ focuses on musical settings of text from the Song of Songs and includes a specially-commissioned concert design by international designer Nicky Shaw, best known in the UK for her production of Madame Butterfly at Glyndebourne Festival in 2018. Commenting, Nicky said: ‘I’m excited to be opening ORA Singers’ Design Series at St Luke’s and, without giving too much away, hope to give the concert a subtle ecclesiastical feeling, with the clever use of shapes, light and shadow.’

The evening, which will be the first of nine concerts over three years as part of ORA’s new residency at St Luke’s, includes ORA-commissioned reflections by Jonathan Dove, John Barber and the world première of Donna McKevitt’s reflection ‘Amica Mea’, a reflection on Rodrigo Ceballos’ ‘Hortus Conclusus.’

Suzie Digby, conductor, added: ‘ORA Singers prides itself in leading the charge in 21st century choral commissions and performance and our Design Series is a brilliant opportunity to add something extra to our latest swathe of new reflections. We can’t wait to see Nicky’s designs or to hear Donna’s commission. And we also have the opportunity to give the UK première of Arvo Pärt’s new work.’