Writing in Psychology Today, David M. Greenberg Ph.D. describes research conducted at the University of Cambridge, by his team, on music taste and so-called brain types.
Greenberg categorized people into three types: empathizers (those who care about others), systemizers (those interested in patterns and rules) and balanced (those with a mix of both).
“Our studies of over 4,000 participants found that empathizers preferred mellow music that had low energy, sad emotions and emotional depth, as heard in R&B, soft rock and singer-songwriter genres,” he wrote.
“On the other hand, systemizers showed the complete opposite musical preference profile: they preferred more intense music, as heard in hard rock, punk and heavy metal genres. They also preferred music with intellectual depth and complexity as heard in avant-garde classical genres.”
Not surprisingly, the balanced types enjoyed a wider range of music. (Brian Eno would have a thing or two to say about systems and music.)
It may be true that avant-garde (classical and otherwise) music lovers are drawn to more complex or improvised work, at least in part, for psychological reasons. But that’s just half the story. It would be just as interesting to learn how avant-garde music affects its listeners’ minds.
I’m convinced that my brain has been virtually rewired by the music I listen to. The more complex, difficult music I hear, the more I find myself drawn to it. At the same time, I find I have less patience for conventional music.
A new live recording by YODOK III, This Earth We Walk Upon, would make for an excellent study.
The piece was recorded live in Trondheim. The 63-minute work has extraordinary range. It begins as a quiet, somewhat unsettling piece and then builds gradually into a menacing post-rock assault. The final result is unforgettable.
Featuring Tomas Järmyr on drums, Kristoffer Lo on amplified tuba and flugabone and Dirk Serries on electric guitar, the trio is every bit as quixotic as that list of names and instruments suggests.
Heavy, in more ways than one.