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A gospel choir leads the congregation in song during a Sunday service at the National Pentecostal Church, Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Dieter Telemans/Panos

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
One more time

Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

Photo by Edward Webb/Gallery Stock

Essay/
Mathematics
The chords of the Universe

It’s no surprise that mathematics has influenced music. But did you know that the influence goes both ways?

Eli Maor

French composer Pierre Boulez in 1976. Photo by Herve Gloaguen/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Essay/
Music
Musical pleasures

We know music is pleasurable, the question is why? Many answers have been proposed: perhaps none are quite right

Roger Mathew Grant

 Photo by Winfield Parks/National Geographic

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Dance and theatre
The music in you

You might not be a virtuoso, but you have remarkable music abilities. You just don’t know about them yet

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

Music fans at Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Scotland, 27 May 1984. Photo by Daily Record/Mirrorpix/Getty
Essay/
Music
Now THAT was music

One grim day (when youth is over) you find that new music gets on your nerves. But why do our musical tastes freeze over?

Lary Wallace

Janis Joplin performing at The Fillmore, San Francisco, in 1968. Photo by Paul Fusco/Magnum
Essay/
Music
Music is not for ears

We never just hear music. Our experience of it is saturated in cultural expectations, personal memory and the need to move

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

Ella Fitzgerald performing at Mister Kelly’s nightclub in Chicago in 1958. Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Getting in the groove

Music reminds us that the mind is more than a calculator. We are resonant bodies as much as representing machines

Jenny Judge

In the Adirondacks Rockwell Kent (1882-1971). Photo © Christie's Images Ltd
Essay/
Music
The story trap

We use neat stories to explain everything from sports matches to symphonies. Is it time to leave the nursery of the mind?

Philip Ball

Recursive design: the Chamber Music Hall in Manchester, by Zaha Hadid Architects, which opened in 2009. Photo by View/Getty

Essay/
Music
Contrapuntal consciousness

The music of Bach is full of suggestive structures of counterpoint and recursion (even if Hofstadter got it quite wrong)

Ilari Kaila

Not sombre; the Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas. Photo by Adam Wiseman/Corbis

Essay/
Art
Going to the chapel

Paul Simon’s album ‘Graceland’ is a joyous political statement. Does it strike the same chord in the sombre Rothko Chapel?

Nathan Dunne

Paris, Palais de Congrès, 1979. Photo by Guy Le Querrec/Magnum
Essay/
Consciousness and altered states
Sound advice

Why wait for the loss of hearing to appreciate sound? Turn off the white noise of your thoughts and start to listen

Bella Bathurst