Bells ring and choirs sing throughout December in Montreal, but rarely do we question why is music so important to getting into that Christmasy feeling – it turns out there’s a scientific reason. In vivid colour, stereo sound and interactive, family-friendly style, the Montreal Science Centre’s Musik: From Sound to Emotion lays out the science of how music makes us feel and has us easily “compose” a song of our own…
With video-screen mp3 players in hand and headphones on, we follow Musik: From Sound to Emotion through several zones of the musical experience: physical sensations of music in our ears and brains, different musical scales in different cultures, how music is composed, played and interpreted emotionally, and more.
It’s not only a fun trip, but an illuminating educational experience, based on the input and scientific research of a team of music and neuroscience experts based at the top universities in Montreal.
The exhibition’s music lessons are nothing like going to piano lessons as a kid: certainly there’s plenty to read and learn, but there’s also plenty to play with. The exhibition goes further into the components of music, challenging viewers to listen closely to similarities between songs, identify pitches and tap our feet along with a rhythm. It’s the Sounds of Every Colour section that lets us get closer to the real instruments, with guitars, drums a theramin and more set up for playing live.
Musik ends on a personal note with the On Stage and On Air! section, where we can sit down in front of sound-mixing tools and hear the song we’ve been creating in the process of answering questions throughout the exhibition – it turns out everyone really is a musician! Songs are added to the exhibition’s website, the Jukebox of Emotions.
Montreal-based punk-pop rock band Simple Plan also plays a big part in Musik. At the end of each section, a video features the band’s musicians demonstrating components of song structure, from one chord to finished song. And once we’ve heard and tweaked our personal composition, there’s still an entire room to visit filled with memorabilia of Simple Plan’s musical career, featuring a history of their successes, some of the instruments they’ve play on tour and in the studio, and more.
The Science Centre is also taking part in the Old Port’s seasonal festivities – which include the Telus Fire on Ice musical fireworks and outdoor skating rink – so if you’re in Montreal around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, add Musik: From Science to Emotion to the family agenda – if you see one of the IMAX films at the Centre (Santa vs the Snowman 3D, Rocky Mountain Express, Arctic 3D), add just $5 to the ticket price to access all of the Centre’s exhibitions, including Musik and the play Le Grand bal de Noël.