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Bradley Vines has become the first researcher in Canada to receive research funding from the Grammy Foundation Grants Program. The $40,000 award will allow Vines, who has just completed his doctoral degree in psychology at McGill, to explore how people respond to visual aspects of a musical performance.
Vines is both a scientist and a sax-player. With his grant from the Grammy Foundation, he will further his research as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard, using functional Magnetic Resonance Technology to examine how the human brain responds to movements of a musician. His work will explain, for instance, why audiences react so powerfully to the way Ashley MacIsaac strikes a fiddle or to the way Beyonce sways her hips.
Vines and his colleagues have shown that music is a far more visual experience than we typically imagine.
"When you go to a concert, you're not just hearing the music, you're seeing it. This will be the first time we can quantify the aesthetics of watching a musician," explains Daniel Levitin, who is Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communication, and Vines' supervisor.
"Music is a window into brain function and cognitive skill," adds Vines. "Music is unique in its ability to elicit rich emotional expressions and it is fundamentally revealing about human nature and the brain."
The Grammy Foundation supports research projects that study how music affects people. "These important grants represent some of our most vital missions," says Neil Portnow, president of the Grammy Foundation. "This research will lead us further down the road of defining importance of music in education and its ability to enhance various therapies, as well as to manage the occupational challenges of music professionals."
Vines is looking forward to working at Harvard. He is hoping to continue to share his time between the lab and the stage, where he has appeared with pop groups, and jazz bands like La Internacional Sonora Calavera.
For more information see www.grammyfoundation/grants.