About neuroscience and music (mainly classical). Exploring the relationship of music and the brain based on experience of two careers.

May 21, 2014


A typical discussion about how 'classical music' can regain the interest of the American public usually goes on about making concerts 'relevant,' casual, non-threatening, accessible, blah, blah, adding gimmicks, and marketing strategies to drag the dusty old classics into the 21st century and dusty octogenarians into the halls.

But apart from young pianists in short skirts one element I don't hear so much about is sex. What most Americans call 'concerts' are loaded with sexual energy. Go to livenation.com, think Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Pit Bull, or any bare-chested guitarist using his instrument like a [blank]. Bruce Springsteen says to his fans: 
"I want an extreme experience! Leave the arena (sic) with your hands hurting, your feet hurting, your back hurting, your voice sore and your sexual organs stimulated!" (from an interview by Listen Magazine)
From the very beginning, wasn't music about sex, and courting, and procreating??

Hardly measuring up to this raw carnal behavior is the subtle eroticism of La FlĂ»te EnchantĂ©e or the Song to the Moon in Rusalka, or l'apres midi d'un faune. Those can put to sleep any youngster, even the most hormonally besotted.

Maybe a comment by the pop/rock singer Ben Folds can help. In an interview with Allison Babka about his orchestra concerts he said: 
“It’s the best place to take anyone on a date. It’s perfect,” Folds insists. “It’s not loud as shit, you’re not talking over each other, you’re seated and you can make a move under the program sheet,… People. This will get you laid!"

Whoa! The interviewer quickly explained: "Ben Folds was ... very passionate about the orchestra’s ongoing role in society…. He’ll tell you things in a very colorful manner ... he’s inspired by the symphony, he’s passionate about quality music and he’s honored to perform with so many gifted musicians.... I think Folds has proven … that the right combination of pop and classical can appeal to many demographics and entice newer, younger audiences to give the orchestra a try .... And *that* is sexier than anything Katy Perry or Beyonce might wear to get tongues wagging."