The Journey of Sound

  • Published5 Sep 2012
  • Reviewed5 Sep 2012
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

From Bach to Beyoncé, all music travels the same path to the brain. This 2012 Brain Awareness Video created by Sarah Baum, a graduate student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, follows two cello notes as they travel from the instrument into an ear and reach the brain.



Mom: The show is about to start! 

Girl: Wow! Mom, what is that? Why does it make noise? Why do I hear it? 

Mom: That is a cello. Would you like me to tell you a story about how we can hear it? 


Mom: Okay. 

Once upon a time, there was a girl and a bow,
The bow touches the strings and music flows.
From the touch, tiny waves, called notes, come out,
They spring around, they float and pounce.
From the bow their journey begins,
Now we know how it starts, but how does it end?
“Where are we going?” Says Note A to Note C,
“I feel our waves are lost on the sea!”
“No! Look here!” Says Note C to Note A,
We are approaching something, a harbor, a bay!”
“Not a bay, silly C, its an ear,” and indeed,
Down the canal they floated, the way cluttered with weeds.
Then they came to a door, in the shape of a drum.
“What do we do now?” Note A asks, glum.
“I say we give it a SMACK!” says note C with a CLAP!
Then they run for the drum and hit it with a CRACK!
The drum begins to shake, moving the air all around,
The Notes are transported, by the force of the sound.
“We’re on the other side! But now where to go?”
“Onward and forth!” Note A cries, “Watch out below!”
Onward they travel, on the vibrating air,
To a small window, where they peer in as a pair.
“Shall we smack this one too?” Asks notes A to note C.
“I think we should! Come on, follow me!”
They run to the window, and crash into it with a BOOM!
The window wobbles and shakes, and through it they ZOOM!
“Where are we now?” Note A says as waves SPLASH!
“I think we are waves, we changed in a flash!”
The Notes ride the waves, round a great shell,
When suddenly Note A jumps off with a yell.
“This is my stop!” he calls to Note C,
“We’ll meet again my friend, just wait and see!”
So Note A travels on, but not too far,
He is plucked out as well, like a shooting star.
“This is my spot!” He says to the shell,
And when he lands, the ground shakes where he fell.
He looks below, and what does he see?
Little hairs swaying, singing with glee.
“I moved those little hairs!” He shouts in surprise,
Then the base is lighting up, and off he flies.
“I feel so alive, so electric and bright!”
For so he was, he had become a spark, a light.
A long way he travels, with many other sparks too,
All in a bundle, together they flew.
“We’re going to the brain!” Note A says in hello.
“Why you were right Note A!” Note C says from below.
The bundle splits and stops a few times, like a train some tracks,
But the sparks hurry on, they light up the dark.
And then they are there! What a magnificent sight.
The Auditory Cortex, the brain all alight.
Note A and Note C part once more,
They jump off and wave, new places to explore.
Note C comes to another track, its hand held out,
“Where will this path lead?” Note C wonders in doubt.
“I go to new places! Excitement abound!
“Come! There’s new adventures to be found!” 

Girl: So where did they go? 

Mom: Many wonderful places, places in the brain where the notes, the lights, are translated into thoughts. Different areas in the brain lighting up, mean you’re having different thoughts. 

Girl: Is that why the different notes had to split up? 

Mom: That’s right. 

Girl: Time to start some new adventures!

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