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The Music Instinct: Science and Song

30 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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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.

Special Features

None.

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.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: July 21, 2009
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0028X6KYW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,932 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By operamarty on July 11, 2009
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 By Carrie Starr on 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 By lifelearner on July 14, 2009
Format: DVD
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JPS on 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Jones on 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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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Alan Rosen on January 12, 2011
Format: DVD
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 By Michael L. Connor on 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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Format: DVD
Do you love music and science? If so, you'll be absolutely enthralled by The Music Instinct. There is a universality to music that appears to transcend cultural and national boundaries, and even crosses over to species other than humans, and out into the universe itself. When The Music Instinct plays an adapted-for-human-ears version of the sound of a black hole, resonating in a very low B flat, it's clear that in a world where everything is vibration, music appears to be one of the closest ways humans can feel attuned to all that is.

This documentary style film intersperses questions asked by an unseen female narrator with comments by neuroscientist Oliver Sacks, physicist Brian Greene, and musicians including Bobby McFerrin, Audra McDonald, Richard Hawley, Daniel Barenboim, Evelyn Glennie, and Yo-Yo Ma. Samples of music from around the world and a summary of some of the main points in music theory are included in a thoughtful exploration of why music affects us as it does.

I was thrilled to hear inside the womb what unborn babies can hear when someone sings nearby (the words are audible), and to see how musician's brains can easily be identified based on the way they grow. And who knew that our brains are so active when hearing music that there is no "musical section" of the brain, per se, but instead music appears on MRI scans to fire neurons all throughout the brain? Another absolutely astonishing section of this movie showed how villagers living in a remote section of Africa who'd never before heard western music, interpreted western songs exactly the same as westerners do for emotional meaning (happy, sad, scary). Music appears to have curative, healing effects on people as well, helping people sing who can't speak, and move who are otherwise frozen.
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