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Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks believes musical training should be a part of early education because of music's huge effect on the brain. His latest book is Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Musical Minds premiers tonight on PBS 8:00 p.m. Here is a preview

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lox and bach.

chimpanzees can't dance.

stewart is really becoming the premier interviewer of his day. this loveable old coot was nervous and not an easy interview but the results were beautiful.

how can music, or anything, be logical and at the same time mean "anything to anybody"?

he makes the case that music is more fundamental (meaning, i guess, connected to more primitive/universal parts of the brain) than language. and "you never lose rhythm".

you never lose rhythm

Is that like in, you can never lose something you never had. I'm not sure what to make of "chimpanzees can't dance," I've heard it said that "white men can't dance."

White culture often suppresses physical expression, from my experience. It's way more OJ for girls to dance than for boys in the U.S. white culture. Europeans don't seem (in my experience) to have that same behavior pattern. As a musician and dancer (ballet as a child, swing and salsa as an adult), I've found that most people have rhythm - yes, white men, you too! - but it takes some longer to let it be thatn others.

My 15 year old pianist daughter would have a bone to pick about Beethoven not being orange enough! She says, "Bach is too notey." But if she wants to get into a conservatory, she knows she'll have to learn to play some of Mr. Notey. Anyway, here she is going all-scarlet with Beethoven's Tempest.

Sacks admitted that he's always loved Bach, so I'm not surprised that JS Bach's music did more for his brain - including the reaction in the amygdala - than did Beethoven's. Both composers gave us many layers to appreciate, but some folks go one way or the the other. Different styles are an acquired taste; I can't believe how long it took me to love Brahms!

Thanks for posting the link to your daughter. I'll try to get to it in the midst of summer teaching and grading. Best wishes for her musical pursuits.

Funny you brought up Brahms (same thing for me - for a long time I couldn't figure out why he was one of the three Bs.) The piece that got me started on him is one I was just thinking Brian's daughter might like (after listening to her recital) - Rhapsody in G Minor. I do love both Beethoven and Bach and I swear the fall of those notes from Mr. Notey can alter your heartbeat.

Anyone watched the PBS documentary referenced here? Watching it right now... fascinating subjects... my guitars will be on ebay shortly, if I haven't burned them before.

He's wrong about only humans dancing to a beat.

I don't know if I can embed videos here, so here's the link:

"Between January and May 2008, research led by Dr. Aniruddh D. Patel of the Neurosciences Institute, La Jolla was carried out to determine whether or not Snowball was, in fact truly synchronizing his body movements to the music (as opposed to simply mimicking or responding to visual clues from humans present in the room at the same time). Snowball's favorite piece of music was played to him at several different tempos and his reactions recorded on video for later analysis. The results, published in the paper "Investigating the human-specificity of synchronization to music" showed that Snowball was capable of spontaneously dancing to human music and also that he could adjust his movements to match the tempo of the music (albeit to a limited extent), a behavior previously thought only to occur in humans."

Perhaps the only trait that is truly human is our ability to declare that certain abilities or attributes we possess are unique to humans.

It seems Sacks is aware of these animals:

Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist at Columbia University and the author of "Musicophilia," said that his initial interest in music started years ago when he first noticed that Parkinson's disease patients who could not control their movement or speech could move or sing with the aid of music. Snowball first came to his attention when readers of his book argued with his contention that the ability to synchrnoize movement to a rhythm was a unique human ability, by sending him videos of the cockatoo.

If you google, you'll also find that Dr. Patel and he know each other.

I wonder why he keeps repeating that falsehood, then.


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