Sunday, November 07, 2010

Classical Conditioning

Last night turned out not to be as great as I had hoped it to be. MUSEUMNACHT in Amsterdam; an every year ritual where about 45 museums in the city open their doors until 2:00 AM (remember this post?). Dumb fact no. 1, I forgot to buy a ticket and today when I finally wanted to buy one they were completely sold out. Big Fat Bummer! There was a small solution though, I got to sneak a little peak of Museumnacht after all at Tropenmuseum in tha east side o' town. My friend picked me up at the entrance with somebody else's ticket and together we enjoyed the music of a UK artist called Banjo or Freakout (to me Banjo or Freakshow sounds better though but who cares about one little Dutch girls opinion) within the beautiful surroundings of the "ROOD" exhibition. Listen for ya selves...

Another band I've been starting to enjoy for some weeks now, is The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. It's a Danish band with an alternative-ey sound. The high voice of the lady singer combined with the beat-y, happy music pretty much boosts happy moods. And since they're good enough for Steve Jobs (one song of them was used in an Ipod Touch commercial in 2008) they should be appealing to all of you unknown souls out there. Go listen and watch and enjoy and like. This video kind of gave me a quirky, eighties Blondie - Atomic kinda feeling, likelikelike!

Last but certainly not a least, Johann Strauss! Don't ask me how he got into my head but last week I found myself humming a song from which I didn't know the title OR the artist. The only thing I was quite sure of was that I'd probably heard it from the New Years Concert in Vienna (on TV though, I was not actually present unfortunately). I have absolutely never had any interest in classical tunes but the New Years Concert is kind of holy to me. I try to watch it every year (that is when I am not still in bed recovering from a late-wild-funky-bubbly new years party). I especially like the conductor; Georges Prêtre.

Some people just have a certain appearance that touches me. He looks so friendly, like a sweet grandpa who you want to share stories with in front of a fireplace. This next video comprises both the humming song as well my imaginary grandpa-conductor Georges Prêtre.

So, this classical conditioning I'm mentioning in my blog title is actually a psychological term that can be simply explained like this: a dog hears a bell (conditioned stimulus) and gets a bowl of food (unconditioned stimulus) after. This combination of stimuli is offered to the dog a few times. After some time when the dog hears the bell, he knows the food is coming. This experiment has been done by Pavlov. He measured the amount of salivation the dog produced by hearing the bell and receiving the food. At the start there was no salivation by hearing the bell, and a normal amount when the (smell of) food appeared. After several offerings of both stimuli the amount of salivation had changed; the dogs already started to salivate by hearing the bell, which means they expected the food to appear shortly after that. More to be found about classical conditioning at WIKI for those who are interested.

Classical conditioning fits into my story like this: music and experiences share a connection; a story. Hearing a song during an occasion leaves a mark in your brain that gets re-activated when you hear it again in a different environment. The pattern you went through during that occasion starts to get back to you, lets you relive that moment that obviously meant something to you. It makes it easier to remember. I find that connection to be quite special, it makes you feel that special feeling again from first time you went through it. It can be good, emotional or horrifying, but you cannot change the fact that it's there. For me it's not just songs that make me relive moments, it's also smells. The smell of fall, for example, makes me think of family vacations during the short fall-break we used to have when we were younger. Good memories that sometimes make me sad that those days are over. Of course new good times are still happening and some of them still yet to happen. The old ones though are gone, hanging in the air and waiting to be remembered by you through a song or a smell. Magical.

And with that I would like to conclude this sunday-afternoon blog. I'm gonna go practice my guitar skills a bit more. I found out that even with tons of practicing I do NOT have a gift for that. I always hoped I would but I cannot say that it comes natural to me. If I feel I'm good enough to produce an entire song without mistakes, I'll promise to make a little video and put it up here. Have a good last day of the weekend and until soon.

Ps. This is Jim. He's the cat my friend babysits this weekend. He has three legs and shiny eyes. He runs like the wind and jumps like he's got a Jalapeño up his behind. Anyway, I didn't want to keep this sweetcute kittycat all to myself. Jimbo is also to be found right herrre.