Academic journal article Psychomusicology

My Life and Times

Academic journal article Psychomusicology

My Life and Times

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT-Following a doctorate in psychology, Mari Riess Jones obtained a position at Ohio State University (OSU) in the Department of Psychology teaching quantitative psychology. Always fascinated by timing in natural settings, she was also influenced by several scholars. Self-described as theorist first and experimentalist second, she reveals her insights into the relativity of time and ultimately a research program focusing on two aspects of time: a velocity-like property and a rhythmic property. She recounts her discovery of a theory of nested periodicities and entrainment of an organism with the environment, resolving issues arising from a variety of unexplained phenomena. After a fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, she returned to OSU in the Cognitive area. It offered more involvement with graduate students out of which arose concepts of Joint Accent Structure and extensions of entrainment theory. Recognizing the value of multidisciplinary thinking to the understanding of music communication, she coorganized a multidisciplinary conference in 1991. The formation of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC) was also announced at this meeting. She was elected as its President in 2007. Her early hypothesis of a dominant internal tempo that shifts monotonically with age was empirically confirmed recently. She intersperses narrative sections with thoughtful assessments and lessons learned, and provides concluding comments on the past, present, and future of music psychology.

CHILDHOOD YEARS

I grew up in Glendale, California. My parents were ordinary folk, although my mother, who was a bacteriologist and a working mom, differed from other neighborhood mothers. My mother's family lived in Santa Barbara, an historic town north of Los Angeles. My grandparents lived a block from the picturesque Santa Barbara harbor, and during my childhood, my younger brother and I spent summers and holidays at our grandparents' home. Reflecting on those years, I realize that I spent an inordinate amount of time sitting on rocks watching waves, surfing and trying to anticipate 'when' to jump the next big wave. Perhaps all this seeped into my sensibilities in some fashion. During the school year in Glendale, we lived in a big old house with a spacious music room, filled with records, a record player, and an upright piano. Next door was another old house in which two much older girls lived. One was an aspiring opera singer who entertained the neighborhood with scales and other odd vocal exercises for at least four hours a day. Her sister was an aspiring ballet dancer (who also practiced religiously, but more quietly). I mention this because I worshipped these two girls. They seemed splendid. I determined to follow in their footsteps and at age six began taking both piano and ballet lessons (it was apparent even then that I was not going to be an opera singer, although I plan to return as one in my next life). Thus, our music room became my practice room for both ballet and piano. I would like to say that I excelled in both and that I only turned to science when I failed to win the Tchaikovsky piano competition. But the truth is I did not practice my piano and gave it up in favor of ballet which I loved. I loved dance partly for the music itself (our lessons always exposed us to wonderful classical music, in those days played live by the piano accompanist). But, I also liked the soaring feeling of being lost in the music through the synchrony of gestures. It was my first exposure to the power of rhythm and timing. I had dreams of becoming a dancer. I took two-hour dance classes (modern and classical) twice a week throughout childhood, only stopping classes in my last year of high school. Alas, unlike my neighborhood idol, who indeed became a lead dancer in the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), I found that, when I reached advanced ballet classes in my teen years, I could not compete with very gifted girls in my class. …

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