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Back to Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why by Duke University

4.3
stars
619 ratings
161 reviews

About the Course

The course will explore the tone combinations that humans consider consonant or dissonant, the scales we use, and the emotions music elicits, all of which provide a rich set of data for exploring music and auditory aesthetics in a biological framework. Analyses of speech and musical databases are consistent with the idea that the chromatic scale (the set of tones used by humans to create music), consonance and dissonance, worldwide preferences for a few dozen scales from the billions that are possible, and the emotions elicited by music in different cultures all stem from the relative similarity of musical tonalities and the characteristics of voiced (tonal) speech. Like the phenomenology of visual perception, these aspects of auditory perception appear to have arisen from the need to contend with sensory stimuli that are inherently unable to specify their physical sources, leading to the evolution of a common strategy to deal with this fundamental challenge....

Top reviews

TT
May 16, 2020

This course helped me to see music from a different angle i.e through history and biology. Prof. Dales is a wonderful human being and has a beautiful gift of explaining things in a much simpler way.

MM
Sep 21, 2016

This course has helped me to understand biological psychology of humans towards music. Based on this knowledge i am confident to create music which will seem good to the ears of humans.

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101 - 125 of 159 Reviews for Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why

By Mäynard S

Jan 26, 2016

The content is great. But there's not a lot of activity on the discussion boards, and there are some technical issues with the quizzes (using future lesson material on current quizzes). But the content is really fascinating.

By Tal K

Sep 11, 2017

I learned a lot from this course! So interesting! Not having a scientific background, I found some concepts a bit challenging and took some effort to get. But once understood I was amazed and was well worth the time put in!

By Ognjen Š

Oct 1, 2016

Quite an interesting course connecting various fields such as mathematics, physics, brain science, music and music theory. I am giving it 4 stars as I feel that some explanations are weak and need more elaboration.

By Robert D

Dec 13, 2017

This is a very fascinating view of the origins of musical intervals and scales and harmonies that I had never considered before. There is a lot I will follow up. Thanks to Dale Purves for making this available.

By Raymundo A

May 27, 2019

This course works fairly well for those who look forward to quenching their thirst of knowledge. It is not only useful for those who study a program related to the are, but also for inquisitive people

By Fabian A I M

Jun 13, 2020

It is a really useful course to know the most primal factors determining our inclination to like music. It has a lot of good empirical examples, and really good topics for each individual interest.

By Sandra A K

Aug 16, 2020

The technical aspects were a little difficult for me, and the tests didn´t always reflect the material taught, but it was an interesting class and gave me a new perspective on music.

By Jenifer N R N

Oct 20, 2017

It's a really good curse to learn and discover different facts about, music,biology (sense of hearing) and emotions. How is the mood sense affected by music.

By Margaret F

Sep 17, 2016

This course was fairly interesting. The argument that the notes of our scale are linked to human vocalisation, not just in the West, but the whole world.

By Christine

Jun 5, 2020

The course materials, videos and lectures were great. The quizzes were a bit odd - strange wording and sometimes out of order with the teaching units.

By Claire C

Sep 11, 2016

The very dull voice of the teacher makes him sound as if he is bothered about teaching the course.

interesting info otherwise.

By Linda t B

Aug 18, 2016

An interesting course about some biological aspects in music as well as some comparing examples between cultural styles.

By Jeong K

Jun 4, 2017

It was an interesting course and thought something novel. There was some difficulty in understanding scales.

By Julian B C

Dec 6, 2016

Very interesting, specially in evaluating how necessary the complexity in music is for composers.

By Rakshak T

May 1, 2016

Very informative and interesting. However the quizzes didn't coincide well with the lectures.

By Nicolas C

Dec 20, 2020

It was very informative but the quizzes were exceptionally complex, but no less fun to take!

By Kimiko S

Sep 19, 2016

I enjoyed learning this class. I was interested in the scientific aspect of music.

By Vladimirs Z

Mar 6, 2016

Good video content, but quizzes need to be revised.

By Esteban G

May 4, 2021

Excelente curso, responde muchas dudas.

By Yuliia S

Jun 25, 2017

Thank you for this course.

By MIGUEL A C G

Jul 10, 2017

Muy bueno

By Kristin H

May 27, 2017

Good course, and a very interesting overview of the human auditory system, the significance of the harmonic series, and a biological perspective on what attracts us to music and how we have developed a musical language. The instructor is very narrative in his lecture style, so I found it helpful to follow along with the transcriptions - he tends to talk on about a point, and it is easy to miss the main point in all of his clarification. I was not a fan of the quizzes; I found them to be confusing in verbiage, often focusing on obscure points within the lectures, or using terminology not addressed in the lectures at all. I also think the course would benefit by the inclusion of a Music Theorist to explain the musical concepts, as the Instructor is a Neuroscientist, and misspoke on music theory a few times; it also would have broken up the uniformity of mostly one speaker throughout a 6-week course. But overall, I thought that this course was very good, and covered some very interesting material, and that the Instructor was very knowledgeable on a variety of topics, and very engaging. He did a great job explaining difficult concepts until you GOT it, even without a scientific background.

By Michelle C L

Aug 11, 2016

I feel this course is designed in a way that may be too challenging to those who know nothing about music, sound, or biology. The quizzes dont really match the material covered and some of the questions are too ambiguous. The explanations are a little hard to follow as well. It does cover some interesting information about the relationship of music to speech. However, for someone a little more advanced in music and biology, I was hoping for more to be covered. I would have enjoyed more discussion of the history of modes and tuning systems, including more discussion of the Pythagorean comma (and how adjusted need to be made to intervals, especially in a chorus) and Kepler's work. I also would have enjoyed more discussion of rhythmic entrainment, the social cohesion hypothesis of the evolution of music, the roles music plays in human life, the way that bodies synchronize, and more about the relationship of music to emotional regulation, meaning, and personality. Im sure there is more as well. Giving this course 3 stars is generous in my opinion.

By Maksim O

May 4, 2016

A five-week class on biological mechanisms of perception of speech and music by humans. The topics include sound signals and sound stimuli and their perception with the human auditory system, differences and likelihood in the perception of vocalization and vocal tones in speech and of music, biological interpretation of scales, and the impact of cultural differences onto music.

The course is rather a prolonged description of the research field than a proper part of general education. Its real subject is certain topics in biology, not music. Only a number facts discussed may be of interest for most music student, and these are contained in any decent introductory textbook of music anyhow.

By Aniruddha J

Jan 17, 2019

For the hypothesis regarding biological explaination of consonance, it would have been useful to present detailed statistical analysis. Without that, the theory presented was not very convincing. According to the theory presened (slide 17 in defining music...), notes m2, M2 and M7 should not be consonant at all. However, they are wonderfully consonant, at least in Hindustani Classical Music. Secondly, the theory does not explain why notes in the lower octave (less than 256 Hz) sound consonant in vocal music though such frequencies are almost absent in normal speech. As far as I am concerned, the course, while making an honest attempt, does not answer many questions.