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The Music Instinct: Science and Song (2009)

Audra McDonald , Bobby McFerrin , Elena Mannes  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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The Music Instinct: Science and Song + Musical Brain + This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
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Product Details

  • Actors: Audra McDonald, Bobby McFerrin, Daniel Levitin
  • Directors: Elena Mannes
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: July 21, 2009
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0028X6KYW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,062 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The power of music: THE MUSIC INSTINCT: SCIENCE AND SONG provides a ground-breaking exploration into how and why the human organism and the whole ebb and flow of the cosmos is moved by the undeniable effect of music. This follows visionary researchers and accomplished musicians to the crossroads of science and culture in search of answers to music s deep mysteries. Featuring: Bobby McFerrin & Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music.  YoYo Ma also appears in the series.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I recorded this recently from PBS on my DVR and was spellbound from beginning to end. In summation, I wasn't too surprised at the science of the brain discovered in live MRI's of listening and performing music - because music is my air and I must have it in my life all the time. This is a comprehensive look at how the brain reacts in performance, just listening, atonal music, the sensory reactions from person to person, instrument, voices to others - the mic and camera into the uterus of a pregnant woman showing the baby smiling and hearing the music - all subjects confirming what we music makers have always believed - we are hardwired to appreciate and perform music with the cortex of the brain showing white hot light in the MRI - the brain on music. Very exciting program and all the more sad and depressing when it also shows the importance to our childrens' education in all subjects when they learn to play music before the age of 10 and we have cut music and art as non essential subjects. This should be seen by all educators and send a copy to your representative and senator and demand music education be returned to our schools. More important, if you have a young child, prekindergarten age - get them lessons to play an nstrument, sing and learn to read music. It will give them discipline and a distinct edge in their learning - throughout their lives. Music can heal and the images of the brain on music certainly shows its power.
This DVD belongs in any music lover's collection - it proves what we musicians have always known and wish others understood. Great production!!!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brainiac music video June 10, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is one meaty video! It's thankfully free of the 2-second sound bites, and in its 2 hrs (!) deals extensively with the science of music and the brain (lots of MRI images), and how music affects us. This DVD probably will be best used by the rarified group of musicians/listeners who think about music instead of just using it as aural wallpaper. One thing I particularly appreciated about it is that all of the excerpts of pieces that were featured in the main narrative were included in full in the special features section. This DVD functions well as a companion to Levitin's "The World in Six Songs", which is also highly recommended. I thought the lighting used for some of the music scientists' group discussions was a little over-dramatic, but who knows--maybe this subject is more important and deserving of dramatization than anybody knows!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!!! July 14, 2009
I recently saw this on PBS and immediately started searching for the DVD. Very convincing neurobiological argument for the significance of music as inherent to humanity. The program demonstrates that in a real sense WE ARE MUSIC! I just got DVD in mail today and can't wait to watch it again! BUY IT!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting! June 23, 2011
Format:Amazon Instant Video
As a music teacher and fan of Bobby McFerrin, I've been wanting to watch this for a long time. The video was exactly what I expected. It explores the connection between music and the brain. There is a lot of science in this video, but explained in a way that most people would be able to understand it. Bobby McFerrin is in the video a good bit, but this is no Bobby McFerrin concert. He's in less than half of the video. It was very interesting and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the connection between music, music education, and the brain.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent variety October 13, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Terrific documentary validating what many of us believed, and now scientifically know about the power of music and the brain.
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The less you know, the more you will like it. January 12, 2011
There's 2 hours of my life I will never get back. This is a rambling series of interviews with musicians who know little about science and scientists who know little about music. Nothing is covered in sufficient detail to be meaningful and no conclusions are ever drawn. Whenever some cogent theory is developed, it is promptly dismissed with little explanation, such as the relation between the normal human voice and its musical intonations. Ironically, this was dismissed with a very musically intoned voice. The final straw was when they brought string theory from abstract physics into the mix. I then concluded they were just dragging this out to get a full 120 minutes. I would recommend this to anyone who has a weak background in both science and music. Otherwise, you may find the lack of focus rather annoying.

It may be PBS but it is definitely not NOVA material.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stimulating stuff October 6, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Music Instinct was a delight. I caught the last five minutes last July on a PBS public television broadcast and was simultaneously frustrated and intrigued at the eventual prospect of viewing it in its entirety once it got its proper release as a DVD. So just a few weeks ago I had the chance to see it. I watched it with a friend. She was blown away, as I was. Truly a ground-breaking program. Highly recommended.
I teach at a LA public high school and the fact that music programs are being cut is heartbreaking in the light of the insights provided by this program.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly well done - mostly March 17, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Very helpful and informative documentary. It got a little bogged and esoteric near the end as it discussed animal "singing" though. Not much scientific basis for the claims it makes at that point but the rest was well supported and presented.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film with new ideas
This is a really awesome documentary. It's engaging and well made with lots of interviews and excerpts. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Elizabeth R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it. Thanks for your service.
Published 2 months ago by kpin
5.0 out of 5 stars Would highly recommend to musicians and counselors
Extremely well researched and produced. Provides answers to a lot of questions about the universal appeal of music. Would highly recommend to musicians and counselors.
Published 3 months ago by lonestarlet
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fascinating
Buy this fantastic DVD is you are interested in the brain and in music. i've loaned it to several people. The last one hasn't returned it. :(
Published 3 months ago by Paula
1.0 out of 5 stars review
the movie was horrible the only reason I brought was for a project that I was doing in school for a research
Published 5 months ago by scarlett
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing stuff here
This is the best (of what's out there on DVD) that I have seen about the field of neuroscience and music. Read more
Published 7 months ago by ladybugnw
5.0 out of 5 stars When science meets music
I borrowed this DVD from the library. I fell in love of it. Bobby Mc Ferrin brings us to the neuroscience behind music... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Patricia Torres
5.0 out of 5 stars McFerrin is always simply amazing
The data now about music and the brain is so compelling that everybody should be aware of the concepts in this easy to watch video. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Beth McIntosh
5.0 out of 5 stars I gave this DVD to my granddaughter's boy friend
He is a young man with many interests; notably music and astronomy. He like this DVD very much. He is learning there is music everywhere.
Published 14 months ago by David Nikolaus
5.0 out of 5 stars I bought this item for my granddaughter's boy friend
I bought this item for my granddaughter's boy friend who is studying music at Texas Christian University. There is music all around us; we just have to stop and listen.
Published 15 months ago by David Nikolaus
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