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Daniel Levitin on Evolution and Songwriting

Daniel Levitin - Composer Quest (Arsenio Corôa)

Musician, neuroscientist, and author Daniel Levitin has brought music psychology to the masses with This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs. For today's episode of Composer Quest, I got to interview Dan about why humans evolved to be musical. Dan also shares songwriting tips he's learned in talking with Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Stephen Stills, and Victor Wooten. In the second half of the episode, you'll hear Dan perform a couple of his own songs, including an exclusive debut of his new song "The Hole Inside My Head."

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Inside the Creative Mind of Noah Keesecker

Noah Keesecker - Composer Quest

In today's episode of Composer Quest, I interview Noah Keesecker about everything from the perils of grad school to making musical ping pong tables. Along the way, I discover that Noah is on the "spectrum of synesthesia" as he calls it. For example, he often experiences smells when he hears things (bassoons smell like mossy logs), and he strongly associates visuals and sounds, which has led to some really cool multimedia works like Tonegoblin. Noah shares some great tips on being both a creative and professional artist.

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Season 4 Premiere: Brain Music with Roger Dumas

Roger Dumas Brain Science Lab

Roger Dumas was a synthesizer whiz kid back in the 70s. He wrote manuals for early Moog synthesizers, and he helped out Prince, Janet Jackson, and even John Lennon. He's also the guy behind the catchy synths in the disco hit "Funkytown." Now Roger has a new passion: studying the brain's response to music. He's done some pretty amazing work, including re-creating a melody out of the pure data from brain sensors. In this season premiere episode of Composer Quest, I talk with Roger about his research, his album based entirely on brain data, and his glory days in the music business.

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Geriatric Songwriters and Music Therapy with Angela Johnson

Angela Johnson - Composer Quest

It isn't every day you hear about a CD release party at a nursing home. Music therapist Angela Johnson worked with some older folks to create a CD of songs that include everything from sage advice to dog barks. In this episode of Composer Quest, Angela gives us the lowdown on being a music therapist, and she shares what it's like dealing with death on a regular basis. She also plays some of her beautiful songs live.

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Sound Scientist Seth Horowitz on Dolphins, Aliens, and Aural Therapy

Seth Horowitz Composer Quest

After a failed dolphin keyboard experiment, Seth Horowitz decided to change roles from dolphin trainer to biopsychologist, neuroscientist, aural therapist, and author. In this Composer Quest episode, Seth explains how echolocation works, and how he used his knowledge of bats to sound design an alien race for a sci-fi show by the producers of The Walking Dead and Heroes. We also talk about his aural therapy recordings engineered to induce sleep, improve focus, and even relieve pain.

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7 Weird Creativity Warm-ups

What ever happened to this guy?

In my latest podcast episode, I talked with neuroscientist Wilma Koutstaal, who studies creativity. After our in-depth conversation about how to think creatively, we joked about how everyone wants things boiled down to a few easy tips. So here are seven ways to get your creative juices flowing.

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The Psychology of Creativity with Wilma Koutstaal

Wilma Koutstaal Composer Quest Interview

Cognitive neuroscientist Wilma Koutstaal studies and teaches about creativity at the University of Minnesota. In this episode of Composer Quest, she shares words of wisdom with all of us who want to be more creative. We talk about how to to get unstuck from writer's block, how to move between abstract and detailed thinking, and how to avoid procrastination.

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Choosing Music Through Brainwave Headphones

Mico Neurowear Brainwave Headphones

I've always been amazed by technology that can turn our brainwaves into something tangible. I remember learning about a special brainwave-sensing headband that lets you control a computer mouse by thinking thoughts like "taco" or "hamburger" for the different mouse movements. There are also some brainwave dueling games, like Mindflex, where you have to out-concentrate your oppenent. I just found out about these special headphones that choose music for you based on your brainwaves.

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Musical Illusions with Dr. Diana Deutsch

Diana Deutsch Musical Illusions

I was thrilled to talk with Dr. Diana Deutsch, a pioneer in the field of music perception and psychology (she literally wrote the book on music psychology). Diana has discovered a number of famous musical illusions. Prepare to have your mind blown by the octave illusion, the scale illusion, the tritone paradox, the mysterious melody, and the speech-to-song illusion "Sometimes Behave So Strangely," made popular by Radiolab. Diana also explains how composers can benefit from studying these perceptual illusions.

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