Simultaneous Interpreting: The Impact of Music and Musicians as Perfect Interpreters

L’Impatto della Musica e i Musicisti come Interpreti Perfetti

Traditionally, music and language have always been treated as different and distinct faculties of the brain. However, this view has been challenged in recent years mainly due to the advent of modern brain imaging techniques and the improvement of neurophysiological measures to study brain functions. Using these innovative approaches, an entirely new insight into the neural and psychological underpinnings of music and speech has evolved. The results of these studies show that music and speech functions have many things in common.

The logical conclusion, but no less surprising or fascinating, is one: whoever has a musical education has developed over the years a whole series of skills that potentially make him an extraordinary interpreter. Let's find out why.

Science says it: music and language are connected

Growing evidence suggests that people with a musical background have a greater aptitude towards developing language skills.

Musicians develop a natural predisposition to learning languages. This is due to the privileged relationship that exists between music and language. A language, any language, has a musical character, made up of rhythms, intonations and pauses.

Humans interpret language and music through similar cognitive processes. Although we process language and music in opposite hemispheres of the brain, experts have found significant overlap between the neural regions underlying language and those responsible for perceiving music.

If we listen to a spoken voice recording on a loop, our brain will end up paying more and more attention to the melodic inflection of the message rather than its meaning. In other words, as listening continues, the brain deceives itself and processes the information in the same way as it would with a melody.

Musicians are better at processing different languages

The closeness between music and language allows those who have had a musical education to understand languages better than those without this background. In a nutshell, those with a musical background have all the credentials to successfully embark on a linguistic career.

Scientific research shows that people who have studied music before the age of seven develop fundamental skills for processing foreign languages. Because the brain is most developed at this stage of life, absorption of music leads to greater cognition and provides young musicians with broader vocabularies and greater sensitivity in recognizing subtle differences between sounds and in pronouncing unfamiliar words.

Thanks to their education, musicians develop skills that are very useful both for learning a language and for carrying out the work of interpreter, such as that of quickly shifting attention from one point to another without losing focus and memory skills.

In short, those who have studied music are facilitated in the tasks of the interpreter and translator. These include the ability to translate languages quickly, judge speaker tone effectively, and pronounce foreign languages better. These skills can be very difficult to learn, but evidence suggests that musicians have a significant advantage over non-musicians in doing so.

The music makes the interpretation richer and more qualitative

The best interpreters are those who use their experience and culture to enrich the interpretations. To train, an interpreter must necessarily stay for a certain period in the country whose language you want to learn. Music offers a privileged gateway to the culture of a place. Immersing yourself in the songs and melodies of a country is not only fun and stimulating, it is also a fantastic learning exercise, because it allows you to process sounds and connects the left and right sides of the brain, which leads to a higher level linguistic understanding.

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