Journal of Undergraduate Research


music, emotion, brain activity, MRI study, instruments


Fine Arts and Communications




In order to study the relationship between music and color in areas of brain activity, I proposed to have participants’ brains scanned by an MRI machine while seeing different colors and listening to contrasting music samples. After learning that aural and visual response use completely different areas of the brain, the study was modified to instead connect emotions to music, since emotional response to music can be mapped in the brain. Based on the resulting data, I wrote a composition to be played by DuoX, a group in Amsterdam. This composition was written in segments, and the performers chose which segment of music to play next from a notated path based on what emotions they were feeling. I traveled to Amsterdam to watch the performance. The performers’ choices were then compared to the results of the MRI study.

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