The brain and music

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Download the digital accompaniment to the book: Interactive ibook 'Know the score'

That (above) is my brain. Half way through the project of writing this book I went to have it scanned. The machine reassured me that I have one – but broke down mid-scan before the radiologists could start telling me the interesting stuff about what they now understand about the brain and music.

I have always been a good sight reader of music, but a terrible memoriser. In fact, I had not memorised a single note of music before embarking on the Chopin Ballade.  It soon became clear to me that the piece was impossible to play if my eyes were glued to a score – the hands are soo busy flying up and down both ends of the keyboard. So I was going to have to coach my brain to do something it had never done in 56 years.

Had I left it too late? What goes on between the eyes reading the notes on the page and the fingers moving across the keys? I went to speak to a number of leading neuroscientists who work in this field…