PARADE Talk on the Steps by Kim Shively

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Professor Kim Shively describes music’s effect on the brain in her Talk on the Steps for PARADE, 4 November 2016 at the McCrary Theatre. Photo by Devin Kiernan.

Kim Shively, who teaches Acting in Elon’s Department of Performing Arts, describes how scientific research has shown how music activates multiple parts of the brain, invoking both empathy and emotion even as it requires logical pattern-recognition, in her Talk on the Steps for Parade, 4 November 2016 at the McCrary Theatre. She explained how our training in music–starting in infancy with lullabies and nursery rhymes–results in feelings of satisfaction and comfort when we hear major chord progressions, and feelings of unease and anxiety when we hear dissonance or staccato percussion. She concluded her Talk on the Steps by describing how Parade composer Jason Robert Brown uses both comforting chord progressions and uneasy percussion in the musical’s opening number, “The Old Red Hills of Home,” to set the scene of an American South in distress.

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Professor Kim Shively asks the audience to pay attention to the musical tension in PARADE’s opening song, “The Old Red Hills of Home.”
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