Televised around the country on 4th of July is the Boston Pops with their annual concert and the famous 1812 Overture of Tchaikovsky with the deep, pounding bass from those canons at the end of the piece. There’s something monumental about those canons, the bass lines in a jazz show, or the subterranean depth charges from U571—a perennial home theater showpiece. Whether it’s music or movies, why is it that we just love good, deep bass?
Well, neuroscientists are now pondering our love of bass and specifically why bass instruments handle the rhythm whereas higher-pitch instruments handle melody. According to an article from medicalxpress.com, research by Dr. Laurel Trainor and her colleagues from the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind did some experiments where Dr. Trainor’s team played high and low pitched tones at the same time to their test volunteers. According to the article, the tones were repeated in a sequence. Dr. Trainor and her team concluded that the brain was better at detecting when the lower tone occurred 50 MS too soon compared to when the higher tone occurred 50 MS too soon. They also found that the auditory nerve responded more to the timing errors of the lower-pitched tones than to the errors of the higher-pitched tones.
There are some interesting tidbits in the article and you can read the full article here.