They were turning people away last night at the Neurosciences Institute auditorium for the latest Bronowski forum, where scientists and artists meet to talk about the intersections in their work. It’s the kind of thing that makes me excited to live in San Diego. Some of the world’s preeminent thinkers and talents live here, and it’s a treat to sit in a packed room of people wanting to learn about their work.

I must’ve heard a dozen spin-off hypotheses and conversations buzzing around me as I walked to my car after last night’s forum on the intersections between brain science and rhythm — my fellow audience members were as intrigued as I was by the material presented by local neuroscientists John Iversen and Ani Patel, and musician, composer and conductor Steven Schick.

Ani Patel and John Iversen Photo by Sam Hodgson

I’m still whittling my notes on the interesting points last night’s conversation raised for me; watch for some links and more information in a future post. But to start with, the forum focused on a few questions:

“What is the beat? Is it something out there or something in here?” Iversen began.

Then Schick, the percussionist, raised his own questions: “How is rhythm used by performing musicians and how is it perceived by listening musicians?”

“And even though it seems so simple,” Patel chimed in, “Are we the only species that feels it, or is it something that crosses species boundaries? And what about rhythms without a beat? What are those about and how important are they? As we’ll see, those turn out to be very important for understanding the relationships between rhythm and language and music.”

Our partners at NBC 7/39 came with me last night and we pulled the presenters aside for a quick chat before they went on. You can get a taste of that conversation, Schick’s performance and the forum this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. We’ll post the clip here as soon as we can.

In the meantime, check out the other times our paths have crossed with these gentlemen. You might recognize Patel and Iversen from our story last year by Claire Trageser. Steve Schick is one of the musicians profiled by the local effort we featured in November to capture an oral history of top musicians. And Schick’s not only a leading percussionist; he’s also the conductor of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, the ensemble that explored the intersection of music with light and color last fall.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. Please contact me directly at or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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