(further reading thru link)

Frisson (French for ‘shiver’) is a sensation somewhat like shivering, usually caused by stimuli. It is typically expressed as an overwhelming emotional response combined with piloerection (goosebumps). Stimuli that produce a response are specific to the individual.

Frisson is of short duration, usually no more than 4–5 seconds, usually pleasurable.[1] Typical stimuli include loud passages of music and passages that violate some level of musical expectation.[2]

I worked in a group home where one of the residents was profoundly aphasic, both expressively and receptively. She spent a lot of time humming to herself while rocking on the couch. She never showed an interest in music until one day I was with her, and we were listening to Prince (Sign of the Times perhaps). I was headlong onto some major frisson, and she jumped off the couch, ran to the speaker and put her hand on it, laughing. She’d look at me, then look at the speaker, and laugh. It was like she heard music for the first time, though she had been in this music room many times before, and showed no interest.

A single anecdote suggesting that these frisson things can be detected by others. Anyone else experience ‘shared frissons’?

posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:48 PM on May 30

So there’s a shared interest in folklore and place, which relates to your concept of mnemonic topography.

HT: I’d been really interested in traditional music from around the world where people have an intimate connection with the land, like in the nomadic people of Tuva and Sakha, where people throat sing the mountains and are really good imitators of animals. Their music is growing directly from their relationship with the land. It’s like a musical eco-system.

I was becoming more and more convinced that music and language developed from what could be called mimesis. There’s a really interesting book that ethnomusicologist Ted Levin wrote called Where Rivers And Mountains Sing and he very beautifully defines different kinds of mimesis within the Tuvan and Sakhan musical worlds, but I wanted to look for this kind of sound making practice closer to home. I found two songs in the English speaking song tradition, but they probably both have their origins in Ireland, ‘The Cuckoo’ and ‘The Blackbird’. Then I met [the great Gaelic singer] Christine Primose on Skye and she told me about these songs [in the Gaelic tradition] that imitate birds. I’d been looking for something like this for a long time.

Hanna Tuulikki at work during a residency at Glasgow’s Tramway

For context of musical mimesis, watch this video of the Tuvan group Alash perform ‘Ekki Attar’. The rhythmic structure of the song mirrors the galloping of horses.

Music Editor: I highly suggest you check out Hanna Tuulikki’s work with Nalle

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