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Music genes and musical geniuses

Music under the microscope: the relation between biology and genetics and human music, its peculiarities and reasons. These are the main themes of the International Workshop on the Biology and Genetics of Music, to be held in Bologna, May 20 to 22, with leading scientists currently involved in researching the mysteries of music, invited to explain their recent findings to the audience. The meeting is organized by the European Genetics Foundation and the Fondazione Pierfranco e Luisa Mariani, in collaboration with the Orchestra Mozart, the Municipality of Bologna and the University of Bologna. It is part of the agenda of the second edition of the Festival of Music and Genetics, taking place from May 12 to 22, 2007 (

The topics of the meeting are various: from the research of genes responsible for our becoming great pianists (or, on the contrary, being completely tone-deaf), to the evolution of music in the history of mankind through the comparison with other animal species; from the role played by music in children's education, to the study of children to understand the musical mind. Why do infant prodigies exist? Why haven’t we all become one? Are there any types of music that are objectively better suited to be more appreciated than others? And especially what is the purpose of music? These and other questions will be addressed by geneticists, psychologists, biologists, but also anthropologists and musicologists during the open conferences hosted in the Palazzo del Podestà. “All this is not just caused by curiosity: studying the way music is read, interpreted and appreciated by our brain enables us to understand many things about the workings of the mind ?adds Maria Majno, Executive Director of the Fondazione Pierfranco e Luisa Mariani. For example, it opens the way to research certain pathologic conditions or track and even modify children’s cognitive development. Also, it leads to imagining possible applications for patients with different medical problems as well as potential treatments based on listening and producing music?

The idea of combining music and genetics in a single event grew up within the European Genetics Foundation, on initiative of Professor Giovanni Romeo, medical geneticist at the University of Bologna: “We realized how music is in itself an extraordinary communication vehicle, also when discussing scientific topics. But we also understood the existence of many analogies between the evolution of languages and cultures (with music at the very top) and various aspects of human evolution. Music highlights the cultural links between populations; likewise genetics gives us the means to highlight biological kinships. In this logic, we thought it would be interesting to gather musicians and researchers in a single event, to offer meetings and debates as well as entertainment to the general audience?

Each participant may submit a poster abstract by filling in the appropriate form available on the European Genetics Foundation’s website before March 31, 2007. The selected posters will be exhibited in a specific area at the Workshop venue, where authors will have the opportunity to present their work to all participants. A book of abstracts will be distributed at the beginning of the Workshop and the proceedings published in electronic and/or paper format after the event.

In addition to the round table discussions and meetings with scientists, the Festival of Music and Genetics will offer a rich calendar of concerts to entertain participating delegates. The overall framework of the event is the music and culture of Mongolia, the Festival’s guest Country.

Scientific advisory committee
G. Barbujani (Ferrara-Italy), D. Drayna (Rockville-USA), T. Fitch (St. Andrews-UK), L. Lopez (Rome-Italy), I. Peretz (Montréal-Canada), D. Pettener (Bologna, Italy).


Source:Fondazione Mariani Onlus

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