Upcoming Events

12th National Conference of the American Synesthesia Association
With the Harvard Brain Science Institute
October 6, 2017 @ 6:30pm

Hearing in Color

Harvard University, Geological Lecture Hall
24 Oxford Street Cambridge, MA 02138

Most people's brains read signals from the eyes as light, shape, and color, and from the ears as sound. But some people can experience visual stimulation as sound or color or taste; or auditory stimulation as smell. This crossing of sensory modalities is called synesthesia.

What happens when composers and musicians hear in colors, shapes, or personalities? How might these extraordinary experiences affect a composer’s writing, or a musician’s interpretation of a piece? And why do all musicians, whether synesthetic or not, use visual language to describe sound? On October 6th, join Professor Psyche Loui of Wesleyan University and Project LENS to explore the sound world as perceived by the synesthetic brain.

More Info

This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Tickets are NOT REQUIRED!

Past Events

October 9, 2014

Strung Together:
Multicellularity & String Quartets

Fong Auditorium in Boylston Hall
Harvard University

Ever thought about how being a single cell is similar to performing solo Bach? Or how the formation of cellular colonies relates to the advent of the string quartet? Harvard Evolutionary Biologist Andrew Berry's TalkThread begins 3.5 billion years ago with the origin of life and journeys through the emergence of multicellular organisms. Musicians Ariel Mitnick, Alan Toda-Ambaras, Rainer Crosett, Luke Hsu, Marthe Husum, and Robert Bekkers simultaneously illustrate the evolution of the string quartet through a MusicThread of Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, and Reich. Join us to explore what happens when we look at these processes side-by-side!

Presented by the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture

November 13, 2014

Backstory in Art and Music: Samuel Bak and Shostakovich

The Pucker Gallery
171 Newbury Street

How much do we need to know about a work of art to understand it? What's lost if we don't know anything about the history of a piece? Join Project LENS and renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak to explore how backstory informs our experience of visual art and music

November 19, 2014

Breaking Down the Beat: The Rhythm of Language

Le Laboratoire Cambridge
650 East Kendall Street

You probably have some sense of what French music or British music sounds like. But what actually makes a piece sound as though it's associated with a nationality? As it turns out, rhythms from composers' native languages wind up in their music, and Tufts psychology professor Aniruddh Patel has quantified this relationship. Come join Dr. Patel and the Project LENS team as we explore the rhythm of language and the rhythm of music!

February 13th, 2015

The Myth of Modern Violence

John Knowles Paine Hall
Harvard University

In his book "The Better Angels of our Nature," Steven Pinker argues that physical violence has declined throughout human history. But in music, it seems that portrayals of violence are on the rise. How can we reconcile these two trends? Join renowned psychologist and writer Steven Pinker, the Grammy-winning Parker Quartet, and team LENS to explore violence in the world and in music.

March 17, 2015

The Stories of Others: Balancing Representation and Interpretation

The Diller Quaile School of Music
24 E 95th St, New York, NY 10128

If you live in New York, here's your opportunity to see Project LENS live! Join documentary film producers Kathleen Hughes and Tom Casciato, pianists Claudia Knafo and Alex Yagupsky, and the LENS team as we explore the challenges of telling other people's stories. We'll be presenting this event on the opening night of Diller-Quaile's Keyboard Celebration conference.

Cambridge Science Festival
April 24th, 2015

Under the Surface: Brain Circuits, Psychiatric Disorders, and Musical Experience

The Broad Institute Auditorium, Cambridge MA

For many centuries, neuropsychiatric disorders were described only in terms of behavioral symptoms. We didn't have the tools to peer inside the human brain and look at how its physiology and structure relate to behavior. But today, Harvard psychiatrist David Silbersweig is using fMRI to understand the relationship between the behaviors we see and the biology behind them. Similarly, we often describe our experiences listening to music--but the music also has an underlying structure that influences that experience. Join team LENS and Dr. Silbersweig to explore the many layers of the brain and of music--and how these two explorations can inform each other.

Sponsored and presented by the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture

May 12th, 2015

The Search for Morality in Music

The Oberon Theater
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge MA

Join Eric Nelson, Professor of Government at Harvard University, and the Project LENS team to explore the way that moral philosophers throughout history have looked to music in order to support their arguments. Starting with Plato, we’ll discover the ways that philosophers have, for example, tried to find grounding for theories such as moral realism in the harmonic series and the consonance-dissonance dichotomy. We’ll then explore the idea that prolonged unresolved dissonance in music can be thought of as an “internal critique” of this argument, and beyond that, atonal music might be seen as a parallel to the view that moral facts are not part of the fabric of the world. Featuring guest musicians Mason Yu and Jinsun Hong.

April 14th, 2016

Of Mice and Musicians: Model-Making in Life and Music

The Harvard Ed Portal
224 Western Ave, Allston, MA

What could Harvard psychologist Sam Gershman and the Project LENS team possibly have to talk about? A lot, as it turns out! Join us at the Harvard Ed Portal to watch them explore fear conditioning, causal models, and animal behavior. Professor Gershman’s research argues that more than just forming associations to sensations, animals actually ascribe cause and effect. Project LENS will explore with Gershman how these models are built, adapted, and internalized – including in humans, in the practice, performance, and interpretation of music. This unique lecture/performance event will be of interest to all who are curious about animal behavior, human psychology, and music and the brain, but also to anyone who appreciates classical music. Project LENS’s program for the evening includes works by Bach, Schubert, and Ligeti. Featuring guest musicians Marthe Husum, Danny Koo, and Li-Mei Liang.

This event was made possible with a generous grant from the
Harvard Music Association.

February 27, 2017 @ 6pm

From Practice Room to Lecture Hall: How Science Learning and Music Learning Connect

The Harvard Ed Portal
224 Western Ave, Allston, MA

What should a 200-person physics lecture and a one-on-one cello lesson have in common? More than you might think! Join Professor Logan McCarty and Project LENS for an evening of musical performance and discussion, where we'll explore what science pedagogy can learn from music pedagogy.

This event was made possible with the support of a generous grant from the Harvard Music Association.

Cambridge Science Week
April 21, 2017 @ 7pm

Music and the Bilingual Brain

Fitzgerald Theatre, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
459 Broadway, Cambridge (enter through the side door on Cambridge Street)

Learning music is in many ways similar to learning a second language. On April 21st, Harvard Associate Professor of Education Gigi Luk joins Project LENS to explore the similarities and differences between acquiring a second language and acquiring music. Feauturing works by Brahms, Janacek, and Trevor Baca, and musicians Stephanie Zyzak, Yoonhee Lee, and Dominick Douglass.

Sponsored by the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture

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