Pitch as Communication and Brain Activity.
As a composer of therapeutic music, what I find interesting is that speech and music are similar forms of communication.
The way people communicate though speech or music is by changing the pitch of the sound (Patel, 2008). By changing the pitch, you change the meaning of what is being communicated (Patel, 2008). For example, people speak differently depending on who they’re communicating with. For example, in a study, men would lower their voices and women would raise the pitch of their voices when talking to a person they consider attractive (Faletto, 2017).
In terms of how sound relates to the brain, especially in speech, there are tens of thousands of neurons in the part of the brain that controls the movement patterns in the lips, tongue, and larynx. (Watson, 2018). It accomplishes this task because neurons contain cells within the nervous system that transmit information to other nerve cells, muscles, or gland cells (The Neuron, 2012). The best way to think of how this system works is to think of how cell phones operate. Cell phones send out radio waves from one cell phone to another; similar to cell phones neurons generate electrical impulses to receive or send messages from one neuron to another.
The point being made is that “’Each area that controls a movement is like playing a chord on the piano’, … and when all these chords come together, music is made. In a similar way, when different areas of the sensory motor cortex are activated, fluid speech is made” (Watson, 2018). The best way to think of how the motor cortex works is that it operates in steps (The Activation Sequence, 2012). So, if you need to take an elevator, you would press the up button, step in, wait until you reach the floor, and then walk out.
In conclusion, the higher the pitch, the more neural activity in the brain sites occur (Watson, 2018). What happens is that the higher the pitch, the higher the frequency (sound) which changes the electromagnetic waves (e.g., electric charge) that circulate currents within the body. I believe through studying the activity of pitch, we will have a better, more important understanding of how to use music to stimulate neural networks to enhance brain activity.
Faletto, Joanie. February 1, 2017, Your Voice Changes When You Talk to Someone Attractive.
Patel, Aniruddh H. (2008), Music, Language and the Brain. New York, Oxford University Press.
The Neuron, Apr 4, 2012, BrainFacts.org
The Activation Sequence for the Motor Areas, Apr 4, 2012, BrainFacts.org
Watson, Sara Kiley (July 27, 2018), How The Brain Helps You Sing Or Say What You Mean; NPR;
Nuance Crusaders by Mark R. Baldridge, Thursday, October 3, 2019
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