Learning Curves: My Fun Blog

On life. One learning curve at a time on the path to becoming a renaissance man.

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Snap! Jazz music and mass hypnosis
I went with a couple of girlfriends to a Jazz club this past Wednesday. I was positively surprised by the jam session and had a lot of fun. One thing jumped at me though; the snapping of fingers.

Many types of music engage the audience, and the music is not the only factor in how successful this engagement is. In fact, the audience, or mob, plays a significant role in how entranced it is. Further, everyone reacts differently, moving with the music -- or dancing, if you like.

Jazz is special in that regard, aside to being a very moving type of tune, there is the finger snap. The finger snap is a social institute; it's how Jazz fans "dance" as well as participate in the making of the music. One moment everyone around me started snapping fingers in unison, and by the time they stopped, they were completely entranced with the music. Hypnotized, if you like.

In Jazz, unlike other types of music, the trace is assisted and bi-directional in source.

Due to popular misuse, hypnosis is a dirty word for many. For the purposes of this post when I use the word hypnosis, consider it a stage of awareness on a scale of falling asleep to ultra sensitive. A classic example to illustrate this: has it ever happened to you that you drove for a while and suddenly "woke up", and noticed how time flies? Or did you ever stand in line, and time seemed to slow down to a crawl? These are referred to as "trance states" in hypnosis.

Here is a counter-example some may find more acceptable. The Five Colors Theory, better known as The Cooper Color Code or "The Combat Mindset", introduced by Marine Colonel Jeff Cooper, speaks of four (or five) states of awareness, or readiness for combat. These range from White (oblivious) to Red, or Black (FIGHT!).

In this particular show, the male singer was also a comedian, and enjoyed telling jokes. While the audience loved him for it, the club owner (and one of the players on stage) kept warning him off of it, and asked him to keep in control of these evil urges.

It was obvious that there is history between them, they like each other, and that the singer may have over-done it in the past, but I think there was more to it. Whenever the singer told a joke, the audience laughed. There is nothing wrong with spicing up a show with humour, is there? Thing is, the mood also changed. Suddenly people were no longer focused on the stage and became more aware of their environment. Further, I suspect the band on stage didn't like it at all for other reasons -- perhaps it broke their groove.

This type of rapid change in trace state, or awareness, is referred to by hypnotists as a break state. Hypnotists would often break state between sessions by tackling the patient with an unexpected processing intensive question, such as "how many blades does the air fan have?" To which the patient would get confused for a few seconds, getting stuck for a bit between "?!" and answering.

Letting a patient go home, drive or in general leaving the care of the hypnotist without breaking state is considered unethical and dangerous.

I describe a similar break state situation from a recent lecture I gave, here, where the audience was very engaged with what I had to say, until BOOM!... An unexpected interrupt happened, exit(); break state.

While I enjoyed the Jazz jam session, I was quite excited about making this observation. With the risk of invoking Godwin, I couldn't but wonder what Hitler would have done with this information in his efforts of propaganda.

The way music manipulates us and how that works is a subject for another post which I hope to get time to write in the next few days.

Gadi Evron,

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/gadievron

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