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Jazz improvisers score high on creativity

Musicians trained to improvise responded more quickly to unusual chords and showed stronger creativity than others

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12:00pm, January 2, 2018
jazz musicians

ALL THAT JAZZ  Improvisation and creativity may go hand in hand, an analysis of musicians’ brain activity reveals.

Improvisation may give jazz artists a creative boost not seen among musicians more likely to stick to the score. Jazz musicians’ brains quickly embrace improvisational surprises, new research on the neural roots of creativity shows.

Neuroscientist Emily Przysinda and colleagues at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., measured the creative aptitudes of 12 jazz improvisers, 12 classical musicians and 12 nonmusicians. The researchers first posed creativity challenges to the volunteers, such as listing every possible use for a paper clip. Volunteers then listened to three different kinds of chord progressions — common ones, some that were a bit off and some that went in wild directions — as the team recorded the subjects’ brain waves with an electroencephalogram. Afterward, volunteers rated how much they liked each progression.

Jazz musicians, more so than the other participants, preferred the unexpected riffs, brain waves confirmed. And the

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