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Are you bimusical? You should be.

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As a musician, it’s important to listen to music genres outside of your own. The term “bimusical” has been coined to express a degree of fluency in different styles of music, and there are compelling reasons to aspire to being bi.

We all know what it means to be bilingual, but have you heard of what it means to be bimusical? Bimusicals are people who have been exposed to, and have grown familiar with, more than one genre of music. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable place listening to music that is local to where you live or popular among your peers, but being monomusical could be greatly hurting your creativity and growth as an artist in the music profession.

Research by Peter Wong on the bimusical brain and how it processes music has shown that bimusicals use different neural resources to distinguish between one musical system and another, and demonstrate a more complex behavioral-neural relationship. Simply put, people exposed to a wide variety of music are more likely to engage the emotional part of the brain to differentiate between types of music. And while bimusicals aren’t the only ones who use the emotional part of the brain when listening to music, due to their familiarity with various sounds and genres of music, they report feeling less tension when listening to unknown or foreign music. Interesting.

There are many takeaways from this study and the theories surrounding it, and musicians especially can benefit from understanding how exposure to different types of music affects the brain. Listening to various genres of music can not only make you more comfortable experimenting with new sounds, it can evoke certain emotions that may spur some creativity – creativity that had been hindered by the comfort of having been exposed to the same music all the time. Becoming more familiar with new and unusual sounds can make for a more well-rounded and unbiased musician, one who isn’t afraid to take risks. And, as we know, risk-taking can be a necessary step in creating innovative or unique music.

It’s also worth noting how different genres of music have been said to affect the brain. While there’s a lot of research that supports the ways different genres of music evoke certain emotions, it’s still a much-debated topic. It’s commonly believed that heavy metal listeners tend to have a stronger sense of self and have fewer regrets than those who listen to other genres. Jazz makes listeners feel relaxed and free, and country music conveys a similar feeling of joy. Classical music has been the subject of its own theories and studies, with many suggesting that listening to classical music can deter or prevent crime, instill a feeling of peace, and even boost memory. Rap music comes with its own claims of fighting depression and promoting self-confidence. It’s no wonder then, that being exposed to multiple styles of music could help a person understand and translate emotion into an auditory masterpiece.

If you’d like to see how your own brain perceives music, try this exercise. Recreate Wong’s research on a personal scale by playing music from different genres, artists, and cultures. Jot down how each sample makes you feel, and indicate how much tension you sense. Chances are, if you grew up listening to exclusively Western music, for example, your mind will perceive non-western music as being more anxiety-inducing and distracting. It’s not all bad news for monomusicals, however; in fact, Wong’s research suggests that true monomusicalism has become less and less common as technology integrates and spreads music from culture to culture, creating unique blends of genres and even forming new ones.

Breaking out of a monomusical mentality and becoming a more well-rounded musician can be as easy as exposing yourself to new music regularly. Becoming more familiar with foreign sounds can help stimulate your mind and boost creativity when brainstorming or seeking inspiration. Feeling stuck in a rut or experiencing writer’s block? The solution may lie in giving a new type of music a listen. Challenge yourself to incorporate new sounds into your practice, or try blending multiple styles or genres together to create a unique mix. Exploring new musical influences has been a hallmark of all great musicians, and doing so may greatly enhance your next practice or even your journey as a musician.

If you’re an aspiring musician in the NYC area who’s in the process of creating a band or who needs space to rehearse, check out NYC’s The Music Building. The Music Building is NYC’s largest music rehearsal studio space, and can help you establish yourself as a musician by providing a professional space for you to practice or record music.

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8 thoughts on “Are you bimusical? You should be.

  1. I’m glad you pointed out that listening to different types of music can improve your creativity by evoking a wider range of emotions. I enjoy writing music but have been struggling with my creativity lately. After having read your article, I think I’ll try listening to new music in a wide variety of styles!

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  5. Oh seriously now guys,
    You’re falling victim to the homosexual promotion that’s been happening in the media for the decade or so. You don’t see how not subtle they are being, this is getting ridiculous when it starts into the music arts.
    The power structure has been trying to practice mind control of the population since Disco, because what happened before can never be allowed to happen again. Music changed the Country, killed respect for the Government, stopped a war and brought down a sitting criminal President. Then nothing but seven years of disco was allowed until they could figure out what is now known as “networks of networks” run by the state department. They even brag about how successful it was just last year right before the CIA got kicked out of Cuba for trying to infiltrate the rap concerts there.
    Then the media (all media ) got co-opted into the fray when Bill Clinton deregulated media ownership, allowing ALL media (however many thousand of channels) to now be own by just six people. Haven’t you noticed how all during the Obama administration media actively promoted homosexuality and tried incessantly to convince everyone that dysfunctional peeps in our Society shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions because after all it was the western civilization that made them that way. It’s inherintly racist and discriminatory to push that ideology. It’s bad enough that networks of networks came up with genres to divide and conquer more easily. Music is music, it should be categorized in to this or that.
    We could extend it even further with this new clown administration, because they were a surprise from outside the usual suspects of manipulating bastards and they don’t care much (at least for now) about mind control of the people. That’s why the media stopped promoting homosexuality etc and are left with only disparaging the President to occupy their broadcasts. No one is telling them what talking points or Iies to push this week so they are at a loss. And the look like they are about to have a nervous breakdown. It’s time to realize who the enemy is here. Musicians should be the last people to fall for it. Rap, EDM and hip hop are bad enough because the machines have no Human vibe value. But it sure makes it easier for those five Norwegian guys to write the same hit song over and over for the state department approval. As long as it’s not damaging to the status quo.
    I hope this entertained you for a moment …

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