Dr. David Fuentes delivers Rall Symposium keynote address about music as research

May 14, 2013

Every culture in human history has created music and experienced its power to shape thoughts and feelings, David Fuentes, Ph.D., said in his keynote address for North Central College’s 16th annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research.

Fuentes, professor of composition and theory at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., spoke about music’s inherent connection to the human experience in his address, “Do You Hear What I Hear? Listening as Research,” May 14 in the College’s Wentz Concert Hall.

“Music can confirm and even reform our impressions of ourselves and our place in this world,” Fuentes told an audience of students, faculty, staff, parents and others assembled for the College’s annual Honors Day.

The Rall Symposium was named in 1998 to honor the late Joseph Edward “Ed” Rall, M.D., Ph.D., a renowned National Institutes of Health scientist and 1940 graduate of North Central. The annual event showcases the collaborative, original research and scholarship of North Central College students.

Fuentes was introduced by North Central College President Troy D. Hammond, who experienced his first Rall Symposium. Hammond began serving as the 10th president in the 152-year history of North Central College on Jan. 1 and will be inaugurated on May 17.

“I’m delighted to learn this celebration of scholarship is such an important event in the College’s academic year,” Hammond said.

Hammond, who holds a Ph.D. in experimental atomic physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the audience he met Fuentes while studying in Boston in the 1990s and that Fuentes composed and performed music for the wedding of Dr. Hammond and his wife, Sharlene.

In his address, Fuentes noted that music makes people laugh and cry and is used to great effect in creating emotional sequences in films. But music isn’t entirely subjective, he said, and can be studied in an effort to understand its emotional power.

“Music isn’t magic,” he said. “Every time we notice an effect we can find a cause if we take the time to look.”