This week I’ll be sitting down with jazz musician David Borgo, a professor at UCSD who has studied the science of improvisation and the way humans perceive the act of making music with other people.

Borgo will speak in next week’s Bronowski forum, the lecture series that highlights the intersections between science and art. His compatriot for the forum is James Fowler, another local researcher who studies social networks, the “Colbert bump” and the social link in obesity. (We talked with Fowler about his work couple of years ago.)

The announcement for the forum highlights the potential overlaps between Borgo and Fowler: “The emotional content of music and language and how small changes can make a big difference. The influence of gatherings or jam sessions. Finding one’s own voice. Working at the margins and why the improbable is important. What is borrowed and what is original and the role of luck.”

I want to know: What do you think I should ask Borgo? He’s written music, pushed boundaries with his own instrument, the saxophone, and studied the cultural and historical contexts for how people make music.

His work lives in the kind of crossover that piques my interest. From Borgo’s website, here’s a testimonial about his book, “Sync or Swarm,” by UCSD cognitive science professor Richard K. Belew:

Getting excited while you are READING about MUSIC may be common to ethno-musicologists. But for me (a cognitive and computer scientist), music generally lives in one part of my brain while scientific/academic work lives in another. David Borgo’s Sync or Swarm successfully lights up both sides of my brain!

What do you think I should ask Borgo? Leave a comment below or send me a note.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

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

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