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Culture & Religion

Neuroscience and Jazz

Rising jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, whose doctoral thesis was a study of musical cognition and the movement of the body, draws inspiration from past jazz masters as well as the field of physics.

“As an undergraduate at Yale I decided to stay away from the music department, which I regarded as too conservative and stuffy,” says Iyer, who was trained as a classical violinist. “But when I moved to California, literally the first week I arrived there I entered a local jazz competition and won it. I had never measured myself as a piano player against anyone else, and also had never received any validation of my talent. But things started to grow from there. I played jobs in the Bay Area while working hard on physics during the day. After a couple of years, I realized that I loved music more than physics.”

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