Seeing in tune

Musicians don’t just hear in tune, they also see in tune.

By David Salisbury

150626SeeintuneThat is the conclusion of the latest scientific experiment designed to puzzle out how the brain creates an apparently seamless view of the external world based on the information it receives from the eyes.

“Our brain is remarkably efficient at putting us in touch with objects and events in our visual environment, indeed so good that the process seems automatic and effortless. In fact, the brain is continually operating like a clever detective, using clues to figure out what in the world we are looking at. And those clues come not only from what we see but also from other sources,” said Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, who directed the study.

Scientists have known for some time that the brain exploits clues from sources outside of vision to figure out what we are seeing. For example, we tend to see what we expect to see based on past experience. Moreover, we tend to see what our other senses tell us might be present in the world, including what we hear. Read more

NB: The Community Music Victoria model of teaching doesn’t rely on a person’s ability to read music and follow dots. In singing leadership, for example, we involve a hand, raised and lowered to demonstrate changes in pitch, creating a visual soundscape which is inclusive and easy to follow. It would be interesting to know how that kind of cognitive association with music applies in the context of these findings.

4 thoughts on “Seeing in tune”

  1. Hi,
    I find this article really interesting.
    I know I use other senses to compensate for my poor hearing and it is far more than just reading notes. I watch how and what others are playing, and I feel changes in vibration.
    I think playing music is very much like having a conversation and body language of other musicians is really important.

    Shirley Allott

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Thanks for your commment, Shirley! It’s interesting that you’re particularly attuned to the changes in vibration. That sounds like the start point for another blog post! Do you feel like writing a little more about your experience?


    2. I totally agree Shirley. When I’m playing in a group, body movements are an essential part of keeping together, and playing expressively together. All the senses get used to make it work


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