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Benjamin Johns

Chemistry, Dance
and Music

If you look up interdisciplinary in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Benjamin Johns. He is a rare triple-major, studying Chemistry, Dance and Music. His current project draws on theories from these fields as well as psychology and neuroscience. In the hopes of improving upon his research and perhaps influencing the way music and dance are taught in the future, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Neurobiology. Immersing himself in these fields proved especially rewarding for Benjamin, but his favorite part of the research process was discussing his work with his wife. In his spare time, Benjamin sings and dances professionally and enjoys spending time with his wife and their pets. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Dalcroze-type movement while singing has been shown qualitatively to have various musically enhancing effects in a choral music context. These effects are generally known and employed by teachers of professional musicians, but have not yet been defined and understood from a neurological standpoint. The musician’s pedogogical term for a musical quality is not easily translatable into scientifically measurable quantities. This research begins to elucidate the elements of music-movement transfer effects by measuring changes in trial length, peak loudness per trial, and number of breaths taken per trial when singers are subjected to movement and non-movement conditions while singing. It was found that trial length increased during movement trials. Though the neurobiological explanation for the trial length effect could be a simple task-load problem, further experimentation is required to find decisive cause. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                
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Joseph B. Huszti

Claire Trevor School
of the Arts

The importance of research in the creative arts cannot be overstated. The basic fundamental expressions of mankind are universal and cross all boundaries of cultural differences. The act of singing, one such universal act of expression, is common to cultural ritual. For countless generations we have seen the influence of movement upon singing and have understood that the nature of singing intrinsically caused movement. Benjamin Johns’ research shows a direct relationship of movement upon singing and how one form of expression influences and, indeed, enhances another. The synergy created between two seemingly diverse disciplines begs for more extensive research into basic artistic expression and the fundamental common influences of each. The understanding of natural creative principles through scientific research could undoubtedly enhance communication between people seeking common goals. Research of the abstract nature of art may help influence the nature of science into a more creative expression of art. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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