Guitar heroes born, not made?
Are you a Guitar Hero? I’m not talking about the music video game that has become a cultural phenomenon with some millions of units sold at a value of more than $2 billion. I’m talking about how you always wanted to play in a real guitar band, strumming along with your friends and having a fan base that drools when you play in perfect harmony. But what makes a group of guitarists play work so well together?
Brain Waves and Guitarists
Scientists have long examined the effect of music on emotions and the like. But, now research suggests the answer to questions about the smoothness by which musicians play together goes far beyond the great guitars players use or even their musical training, but actually has more to do with how their brain waves connect.
Scientists from University of Salzberg and the Institute for Human Development in Germany studied brain electrical activity by way of an electroencephalography (EEG) of duos of guitarists playing a short jazz piece. After playing the piece up to 60 times, the scientists found that the guitarists picked up each other’s brain waves. Moreover, the longer they played the more the guitarists’ brainwaves became more similar.
According to the researchers, the findings are more significant than listening to music and making musicians feel good about their work. It has wider implications for how human brains function.
In their study the researchers found that similarities in the guitarists’ brainwaves increased, first when listening to the beat of a metronome, and then when they began to play together. As the various parts of the brains started to form a synchronicity, the scientists were able to observe the regions that more particularly processed the information to support the two players coordinating their playing. The scientists couldn’t say for sure whether the synchronized brain activity resulted from the players watching each other play or listening to their music, or if the brain activity took place first and then caused the synchronized performance. That, they say, is an area for further research. But, it might offer some explanation for the popularity of the video game.
So, what else does the research mean for the average person? Well, hanging with someone who can lick the strings like Jimi Hendrix (one of the acknowledged best guitarists of his time in the 1960s and 1970s) may not make you a real-life Guitar Hero, but maybe it can’t hurt.