Elaine Chew Keynotes at University of Salzburg / Universität Mozarteum

Elaine Chew gives keynote on Music and Cardiology: What’s Your Heart Got To Do With Music?  in the Music & Mathematics Lecture Series of the (Inter)Mediation. Music – Mediation – Context Program of the Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg / Universität Mozarteum in Austria at 18h00 CET on 17 March 2022. The public lecture for a general audience, in person and online, will be followed by a tutorial for an interdisciplinary group of students.

Abstract: Music and the heart have been closely intertwined in the romantic imagination. The pulsating heart pumps blood through the body, producing the rhythm of life. Until it was replaced by the metronome, the heart’s pulsing also provided the unit of measure for musical time, making it indispensable for understanding performed music. Even when the coordinated electrical impulses of the heart go amiss, the rhythmic patterns produced by cardiac arrhythmias are still mirrored in the music, and thus can be modeled mathematically like music. We shall explore the ways in which electrical impulses of the heart result in musical behaviors, and how mappings between heartbeats and music can inspire new ways to view music and heart rhythm disorders, mediated by mathematics.

Music alters our physiological state. A languid or breathtaking pace, heightening tension and cathartic release, musical tipping points – each could evoke a gasp, a quickening heartbeat or longer breaths. Our recent work focuses on making musicians’ expressive devices visible, mathematically and graphically. We shall see how musicians’ expressive choices lead to largely unconscious but quantifiable autonomic changes for both players and listeners. These changes can be observed in the heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, and blood pressure or by pacemaker patients’ activation recovery intervals (time between a heartbeat and when the heart can beat again). The illustrations will be accompanied by music and technology demonstrations.

Suggested readings:
How Music Can Literally Heal the Heart
Putting One’s Heart Into Music