Friday, October 23, 2009

9 brains

I met drummer Kenwood Dennard in Argentina when he was on tour with Wayne Shorter; at the time his playing in the concert and drum clinic had a great impact on me. 14 years later i briefly met him again at Berklee College of Music; 8 years after that, I came from UK to Boston, USA to take some lessons with him. I was the presented with his 9 brain theory. Knewood’s website is totally inspiring, very intelligent and truly spiritual. I copy the concept of the 9 brains as he applies it to drumming. At the end, I add my own idea on the nose brain. Enjoy.
"The Multiple Brain" Concept
Apparently some scientists lean towards the following perspective, and I agree: we have "separate" brains corresponding with each of six senses plus our intuition plus our emotions plus our sense of "oneness" with the universe, sometimes called the "unitary" sense. I think these separate brains function sometimes in opposition, but we can harmonize them and we can use them to teach ourselves. Here is my synopsis of 9 basic brains used in drumming: It's the bare beginning diamond in the rough, I think. :-) just some preliminary notes: Multiple Brain Technique Bringing the vigorous energies of your various brains to bear on a particular immediate musical goal. The distinct brain functions can be organized as follows:
Eye brain: experience things through the eye. See into the past, present, and future. (occipital center)
Ear brain: experience things in terms of sound. Hear into the past, present, and future. (temporal lobe)
Nose brain: experience things in terms of smell. Utilize the sense of smell in the context of past, present, and future.
Language/mouth brain: experience language... Utilize the context of past, present, and future.
Body brain: experience motor functions (using the motor cortex) and touch sensibilities (using the parietal lobe) you can use the body brain in the past, present, and future. :-) This includes the "mouth brain" (distinct from the language brain. This involves more the motor cortex than the Wernicke's spot or the Broca's spot/ language center.) These are my original ideas I'm exploring. - all my ideas here are original, but I'm looking for corresponding documentary proof from outside sources to support my ideas and relate them to society and give them some measure of legitimacy in the eyes of society! :-) I'm noticing that others have come to many of the same conclusions I have come to. :-)
Thinking brain: experience intellectual functions (prefrontal cortex) utilize the intellect in past, present, and future contexts. "Thinking brain"
Intuitive brain: alternate state of consciousness (sleeping/dreaming/daydreaming/having a hunch
Universal Brain: metarhythms (coincidences) are created by this brain.
Eye brain: just by being exposed to things through the eye you can become conscious of them way before your conscious mind steps in. Great for drumming independence.
Ever hear voices? That's your ear brain. We don't always remember in pictures. We remember in sounds too. Listening is sooo crucial for drumming.
Nose brain. Not only does the nose trigger consciousness in a non-verbal or non-logical way, but some scientists say sex is the 6th sense with a special sensor for pheremones just above the roof of the mouth right under your nose. Fuels the emotional side of drumming.
Mouth brain. Ever heard of motor mouth? lol nuff said. The mouth has its own mind. lol (great for drumming rhythms)Of course it also has a Broca's spot or language center too. (It's great for lyrics and keeping the form of the drum parts.)
Body brain. Your body has its own brain. Ask Michael Jordan. Ask Elvin Jones :-)
Thinking brain. This is useful too. Quiet as it's kept you don't have to STOP THINKING in order to be an intuitive musician. :-)
Intuitive brain. There's the subconscious part- the telepathy- you need it to be a world class drummer.
The Artistic/religious Brain: A sense of morals is good for drumming, good for the audience too.
Universal Brain ...Did somebody say unitary experience? Make me one with every thing.
I had made an observation going through this 9 brain category. When Kenwood mentions the mouth brain, he refers to it in regards to the language rather than the sense of taste. Otherwise, when he refers to the nose brain, he does refer to it in regards to the sense in this case the smell. When performing, I find it somewhat forced to think of the nose brain as a means to trigger memory for instance through smell, although according to where one plays, let’s say a smoky jazz joint would certainly have an impact on the nose brain. Rather, and this is following the mouth brain as a means for language, I prefer to think of the nose brain as a means for breathing. Thought from that point of view, the nose brain can be much more useful for instance to create breathing patterns that support the playing, or that complement or contrast the density and taxation of the playing; for instance, if a passage if very demanding on the endurance of the player, a very longer breathing pattern can help the player keep in control of the situation.

1 comment:

rnorman said...

I’m not sure I understand the idea of “separate brains.” I know that, for example, the cerebral cortex of the brain is divided into parts used for specific functions, but I don’t think of these parts as separate. The brain itself is an inter-connected network of nerve cells, and no part is fully separate from another; the parts of the brain are in communication. So, one area of the brain could, theoretically, affect other parts of the brain. However, that being said, I may be taking this concept too literally. Perhaps the idea of “separate brains” is an educational tool used to make music more accessible and understandable to performers.

In any case, I found this subject very interesting, and I decided to peruse the website a bit. On it, I found Dennard’s review of John Ratey’s book, A User’s Guide to the Brain. In one section of Dennard’s review, he goes over the different “evolutionary” parts of the brain that Ratey has identified. Our “reptilian” brain regulates our more primitive and automatic functions, such as sleeping and waking, and breathing; it is also called the “hind brain” due to its location. There is also the paleo-mammalian brain, or “mid brain,” used for limbic coordination, emotions, and memory. And then there is the neocortex, the “newer” part of our brains used for such abstract things as thinking and creating; this is also called the neo-mammalian brain, and is located in the front.

Dennard describes his views on practicing and improvising according to this brain scheme. He suggests that drummers (or other musicians) work to make the basic motor motions involved in playing an instrument a part of the “reptilian” brain; in other words, he suggests making it more “mindless” and automatic. He suggests also making the emotional functions of the mid-brain more automatic, thus freeing up the neocortex for such abstract and complex ideas as improvisation, and musical interpretation.

I’m not sure all of Dennard’s ideas are factual, but I like the concept. I fully agree that, when playing an instrument, technique has to be automatic before any other form of musicality can really be present. However, my problem is that even if my technique is automatic, I can never truly free my neocortex, or “thinking brain,” from it. I’m always worrying about tricky passages and missed notes. So how do I fix this problem? How do I more fully engage my “reptilian brain” and learn to rely upon it? Will this ever happen, or do I have to train my “thinking brain” to just do more at once than other parts of my brain?