“Imagine yourself at a concert hall looking at a symphonic orchestra on stage,” writes Richard Kunert for the website Aeon on Wednesday (4/20). “Going from left to right, one usually sees violins, violas, cellos and double basses. That is, one moves from high pitches on the left to low pitches on the right. The orchestra’s arrangement is not a cultural oddity … it is due to our own biological makeup. Higher pitches tend to be better processed by the left hemisphere of the brain, while lower pitches tend to be better processed by a similar region in the right hemisphere…. This left-right crossing has a strange consequence for modern humans listening to an orchestra. The right ear hears high-pitched notes better, which projects to the left auditory cortex. For the listener, this is situated on the wrong side in order to optimally hear high-pitched instruments, sitting mostly to the left…. High-pitched instruments [are] located on the left … for the benefit of the musicians themselves. They must carefully listen to each other in order to play together. Therefore, they sit in an optimal position with high pitches on the side of the body that better hears higher pitches.”

Posted April 22, 2016