13 November 2014

Does Wagner mess with our minds?

HEARING WAGNER: Does Wagner mess with our minds?
with Sir Colin Blakemore

Saturday 22 November 10:30-17:00

Birmingham Hippodrome, Patrick Centre Theatre


The emotional impact of music is undeniable, and this is nowhere more
obvious than in Romantic music such as the operas of Richard
Wagner. But can the effects of music be measured? Is this even
desirable? The Hearing Wagner event taking place at the Birmingham
Hippodrome on Saturday 22 November aims to air these and other
questions and show how psychologists and musicologists are working
together to understand better what is going on in these extraordinary
works.


Researchers from Goldsmiths University of London and the University of
Oxford in the AHRC's Transforming Musicology project have been finding
out how a live audience responds to the sensations produced over the
four operas of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Last week,
the Mariinsky Opera from St Petersburg, under their charismatic
conductor, Valery Gergiev, performed Wagner's epic Ring Cycle at the
Birmingham Hippodrome. In the audience was a group of student
volunteers whom we'd fitted with unobtrusive yet sensitive devices
which monitored their responses to the music using a measure called
galvanic skin response (GSR) as well as changes in their heart-rate
(HR).


We'll be presenting some preliminary results from this intriguing
experiment at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 22 November as
part of the national 'Being Human' Festival. This event, hosted by the
eminent neuroscientist and Wagner fan, Sir Colin Blakemore, will
include non-technical introductions to the ways in which Wagner used
novel compositional techniques to manipulate the emotions of his
listeners, and to what we have to do to interpret the bio-physical
data from our audience members as emotional response to Wagner's
music. Members of the public will be able to try out some of the
state-of-the-art technology for themselves, and to discuss the
experiment with the research team. Alongside Sir Colin Blakemore and
the Transforming Musicology project team, the Wagner expert and editor
of English National Opera's series of Opera Guides, Gary Kahn, will
also be on hand to remind us of Wagner's dramatic career and his
continual struggle to communicate as directly as possible with his
audience.


To attend this free event at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 22
November 2014, book via EventBrite

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