In recent years there has been increasing interest in research related to cross-modal interactions in music. That is, researchers are starting to wonder how music relates to other senses besides hearing. For example, Western societies generally associate pitches in music with vertical space. We tend to think of lower sounding pitches as lower in space and closer to the ground, whereas higher pitchers are higher in the air. However, this notion of where pitches are located is challenged by various representations of music in space, such as a piano’s keys where lower notes are to the left and higher notes are to the right.
Last year at the Notes & Neuroscience World Science Festival, “Don’t Worry Be Happy” singer Bobby McFerrin led a group of neuroscientists in a demonstration of spatial mapping, which is the idea that different pitches can be associated with different locations in space. In the video below, a crowd of conference attendees quickly learns where to place different notes across a stage. Enjoy!