This Is What It Sounds Like

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In episode #303, multi-platinum record producer-turned-neuroscientist Susan Rodgers chats with Trey Elling about THIS IS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: WHAT THE MUSIC YOU LOVE SAYS ABOUT YOU. Susan is best known for her work with Prince during his peak creative years (1983-87).

  • Susan’s unique path from award-winning sounder engineer and record producer to neuroscientist (1:43)
  • How Miles Davis changed her perspective on listening to music (3:40)
  • The beauty of record pulls (7:36)
  • The messy “brilliance” of The Shaggs (11:37)
  • What we visualize when we listen to music (15:52)
  • Why a preference for ‘real’ versus ‘abstract’ isn’t consistent across artistic mediums (19:34)
  • The connection between novelty and an appetite for risk (22:21)
  • A McGill study on the link between musical novelty and mental rewards (28:41)
  • Why the melody is a record’s heart (29:55)
  • Songs whose lyrics and instrumentation tell different stories (33:36)
  • Ambiguity as a valuable lyrical tool (34:52)
  • How the Barenaked Ladies fooled Susan’s brother with fictitious lyrics (37:06)
  • Rhythm as Susan’s favorite musical dimension (38:29)
  • Evidence that some animals can experience musical rhythm (41:25)
  • Explaining timbre (45:48)
  • How Susan received a lesson on the power of timbre from Prince with “When Doves Cry” (48:43)
  • The importance of synthetic listening to music producers (53:18)
  • What happens in the brain when we feel ‘love at first listen’ with a song (58:26)