Thursday, June 21, 2007

is instrumental music 'less distracting & disturbing' than music with words? i feel so

the background first...
i have been playing instrumental music on my yamaha psr-330 electronic keyboard cum synthesizer for over 9 years now, and before that i played it on my casio sa-11 electronic keyboard for about 5 years (maybe more).

i like to listen to instrumental music; of course not just any, but i like select ones, just like we all have our individual preferences when it comes to listening music with words.

what i have noticed over years is that instrumental music seems to distract less and disturb less than music containing voices/words/lyrics. one day i started to think about it and first felt that maybe its because the total 'quantity' of sound contained in an instrumental song is probably less than the total quantity of sound in a song with words [i dont know how the 'quantity' of sound, or 'amount' of sound, contained in a sample is measured, but it looks like joule should be the right unit for this, just like joule can be used to express 'amount' of optical energy, or just like momentum can be used to express the total quantity of motion contained in a body].

then later i felt no, there are instrumentals having a lot of sound, and yet they still seem to distract less than music with words.

the only plausible reason i could think of was that brain's speech and language processing section(s) remain unengaged when listening to instrumental music, while they are engaged in both the recognition of, and semantic analysis of lyrics of music with words (even if sub-consciously).

i have noticed that when doing tasks that involve words- studying, reading a webpage or reading a newspaper- instrumental music does not distract or disturb, whereas music with words does (or at least it does more). this looks consistent with the undeniable fact that brain's speech and language processing section(s) are engaged when listening to music with words.

i dont know whether this idea i wrote here is true or not, but i thought about this, and felt like writing it, so did.

ah, yes, as i write this blog post (a task involving words), i am listening to faithless- drifting away (from "buddha bar"), an instrumental, and believe me it doesn't disturb an iota...

one new thought that came to my mind was whether listening to music with words, but of a language which we do not understand would cause less distraction or disturbance than music with words of a language that we understand (like english).
this question looks interesting to me, and to find out the answer, i fired O-Zone's Dragostea din tei [a romanian song i like but do not understand the meaning thereof] and indeed felt some difference, thought its nature remained unclear.
i feel that because i do not understand this language, so my brains's semantic analysis sections(s) should remain either free, or overbusy [trying to make out meanings from the jumble of words being thrown at it]. the language recognition sections(s), however, will remain busy even if i do not understand a language.