Why Drummers have a Unique Form of Intelligence
Drummers are an essential part of the music world, and a recent study has shown that they possess a unique form of intelligence that sets them apart from non-musicians. This form of intelligence is lacking in other musically inclined individuals and has been attributed to the ability of drummers to keep time and create beats that are pleasing to the listener.
The study, which was conducted in July 2012, involved participants listening to music that was computer-generated and music created by real drumbeats. The music completed by the real drummer contained small inconsistencies that were more favorable to the listeners than the computer-generated music.
Scientists wanted to see if a computer would be able to recreate the small differences made by humans using a mathematical equation. This would “humanize” the beat. In order to gather data, a drummer from Ghana was recorded in the 1950s. The scientists set a metronome and had the drummer play along with the beat of the metronome.
The results showed that the drummer would occasionally get off the beat by a very small amount. The test showed that if a given beat from the drummer was played slightly ahead of the metronome, the beats to come were also likely to be played early. The slight deviation lasted for several minutes.
What Does This Mean?
This means that the brain of a musician recognizes the deviation and carries that through in a pattern to the end of the piece. They will hold the pattern in a long-range correlation instead of stopping and resetting to the metronome. The brain beats to its own drum, so to speak. Musicians’ brains are able to keep time without matching to the metronome. This shows an ability to separate this task and isolate the beat made by the person.
The long-range correlation is present in more complex rhythms as well, in singing, pop music, and classical music. These things created by hands, feet, or voice all use this deviation from rhythm. This means that there are small deviations in the music that occur throughout the music. This deviation actually attracts listeners in a way that scientists can recreate with computers. To repeat: scientists with computers are unable to replicate the music to be as pleasing as the musicians were able to create.
What About People With No Rhythm?
Not surprisingly, the long-range correlation that drummers and other musicians use to hook listeners is missing from people who can’t keep a beat. Rhythmic timing and memory are missing. This makes the accuracy of drummers and musicians a distant dream for those who have no sense of rhythm. Scientists are looking to find the mathematical laws that musicians automatically have when they self-regulate the beats.
What Does This Mean in Regards To Classical Musicians?
John Clarke analyzed fluctuations in classical music as well as other types of music. He found that the melody at the end of the piece was related to other parts of the piece. This humanizing way of composing the music draws in the listener, and it seems that listeners can tell when they are being duped by computerized beats. Other experts in the Physics Today article noted that pieces from 40 different composers were studied, and all were found to include long-range correlations.
What Can Computers Do to Humanize the Music?
There are features that artificially generate spaces in music, causing fluctuations from random number generators. These generators tell which beats to delay. As of now, the result is not pleasurable. The music sounds jerky and bumpy, therefore not creating the desired effect on the listener. As research continues and mathematical equations applied, they may be able to find a way. As for now, there’s still nothing like the real thing.
In conclusion, drummers have a unique form of intelligence that sets them apart from non-musicians. This ability to keep time and gently correct means that they have an intelligence that others don’t have. The long-range correlation that drummers and other musicians use to hook listeners is missing from people who can’t keep a beat. Rhythmic timing and memory are missing. This makes the accuracy of drummers and musicians a distant dream for those who have no sense of rhythm. As the article says, “to err is human. And that’s what makes our music beautiful.”