How Do You Recognize Music?

Have you ever wondered how you can recognize music? I know I have often wondered how I can know what a song is by a note or two yet I still have trouble with simple math. In this interesting article published today by the International Herald Tribune, Daniel Levitin helps explain how this is possible. Check out a snippet of the article below, and be sure to click the link to read the whole thing.


MONTREAL: "Listen to this," Daniel Levitin said. "What is it?" He hit a button on his computer keyboard and out came a half-second clip of music. It was just two notes blasted on a raspy electric guitar, but I could immediately identify it: the opening lick to the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar."

Then he played another, even shorter snippet: a single chord struck once on piano. Again I could instantly figure out what it was: the first note in Elton John's "Benny and the Jets."

Levitin beamed. "You hear only one note, and you already know who it is," he said. "So what I want to know is: how we do this? Why are we so good at recognizing music?"
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How Do You Recognize Music?