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Interview with Oliver Sacks - Comments

chuckg's Avatar Comment 1 by chuckg

That humans are a musical species seems a no brainer. I think I remember hearing about a new older date for the first paleolithic flute, something like 50 thousand years ago, which probably puts music and singing concurrent with language development(much earlier than 50,000 years ago, of course). It saddens me that music is one of the favorite programs in schools for the conservatives to cut.

Wed, 08 Jul 2009 19:03:00 UTC | #377276

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 2 by NewEnglandBob

Yes, it has a huge effect on the brain, but is that good, not good, or irrelevant to anything else in life? What do we know when areas 'light up'? Stronger connections? Musical only connections? etc.

Wed, 08 Jul 2009 19:05:00 UTC | #377277

Goldy's Avatar Comment 3 by Goldy

Social networks
Conard speculates that late Stone Age music did not contribute directly to the evolutionary success of the first modern humans.

But it may have given them a slight edge over neighbouring Neanderthals, who died out even as Homo sapiens sapiens flourished.

"Upper Palaeolithic music could have contributed to the maintenance of large social networks, and thereby have helped facilitate the demographic and territorial expansion of modern humans" compared to the more "culturally conservative" and isolated Neanderthals, he says.

Wed, 08 Jul 2009 19:13:00 UTC | #377279

helmiy's Avatar Comment 4 by helmiy

His book Musicophilia is fantastic and it is big joy to read it.
the cases he describes and does the analysis for are simply dazzeling.
you cannot know what it is about unless you read it.

Wed, 08 Jul 2009 22:45:00 UTC | #377293

friendlypig's Avatar Comment 5 by friendlypig

Interesting to note that Handel took much of his music for the Messiah from bawdy Italian songs. Somehow seems appropriate.

Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mozart, with such wonderful music I don't have a specific favourite but if I were pressed to pick just one piece it would be Smetana's Moldau from Ma Vlast. That's what you call a 'brain wash'.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 01:23:00 UTC | #377306

purbrookian's Avatar Comment 6 by purbrookian

friendlypig - the Moldau is a good choice for a descriptive tone piece. When you have 20 minutes free listen to Rachmaninov's 'Isle of the Dead' - equally compelling.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 01:52:00 UTC | #377313

alabasterocean's Avatar Comment 7 by alabasterocean

I need this one on youtube or something like that. Can't watch it here in Sweden...

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 02:31:00 UTC | #377318

bluebird's Avatar Comment 8 by bluebird

Last week I happened upon one segment of 'Musical Minds' (forgot it was on, dang it); hopefully PBS will rerun it. Anyway, it was fascinating, as is the subject.

~~Happy B.D. to Respighi & Orff~~

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 03:30:00 UTC | #377333

PERSON's Avatar Comment 9 by PERSON

Glad to see this on here. If you're in the UK you can watch The Daily Show on 4oD on-line or More Four on FreeView and FreeSat.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 04:43:00 UTC | #377353

black wolf's Avatar Comment 10 by black wolf

I can watch it in Germany with no problem. One thing you can try if it doesn't work is using a browser plug-in that will mask your IP.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 05:12:00 UTC | #377359

mitch_486's Avatar Comment 11 by mitch_486

I remember Stephen Pinker discussing this with Richard not too long ago.

I was fascinated by music's inherent meaning to all of us; beats forming as a result of our constant heart beat. Also, and even more interesting, is the way in which we feel music. How our specialized (through natural selection) system(s) brought together for means of survival, also work together and sort of culminate in this puzzle we call music. A way of "announcing" our understanding of love, fear, intrigue etc.

Bottom line, there is something deeply important to all of us in music. I think I'll be doing more research on the topic.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 05:33:00 UTC | #377363

Diogenes of Sinope's Avatar Comment 12 by Diogenes of Sinope

I found the humour puerile and irritating. I know that it could be argued that the combination of humour and science allows for a gentle and 'layman' introduction to otherwise potentially complicated and specialist ideas, but I for one would much prefer a serious discussion with the fascinating Oliver Sacks, and a serious treatment of this research.

People's humour and intellect vary, but surely a more adult approach would go down better on this site?

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 05:36:00 UTC | #377365

MarcCountry's Avatar Comment 13 by MarcCountry

I would prefer a serious discussion and a bag full of cash, personally.

Oh, and a pony.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 06:01:00 UTC | #377370

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 14 by Dr. Strangegod

Good lord you guys, it's the freaking Daily Show. How many entertainment shows bring on serious people to talk for 10 minutes? Thank you Jon, a million times over - for the serious questions AND the jokes.

Question: Why is it that the addition of the two members of Big Business to The Melvins makes them sound so good? The combined vocals and dual drummers are hard to separate into their constituent parts, but somehow mesh together into a more powerful sound. It actually sounds like the two bands perfectly conjoined, but doesn't sound like either alone. Why do I think so much about this? Also, what is sound memory? Like when you can hear the song in your head perfectly, note for note, including production effects.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 06:25:00 UTC | #377378

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 15 by phasmagigas


Also, what is sound memory£ Like when you can hear the song in your head perfectly, note for note, including production effects.

i find it interesting how we remember and then anticipate parts of a track whilst it runs through the present (as such) a good track seemingly needs us to anticipate the good parts later. i suppose that leads to a different form of music appreciation, tracks we know and love and then new ones that youve never heard.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 06:48:00 UTC | #377389

Pluvialis's Avatar Comment 16 by Pluvialis

Is it just me or is the Daily Show a pile of crap? Would be lovely to hear from Dr Sacks in a better setting, where I don't have to cringe for most of the time.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 06:59:00 UTC | #377391

Philster61's Avatar Comment 17 by Philster61

Saw a documentary awhile ago on Discovery about a child prodigy who at the age of 6 is already a concert pianist. They showed how pianists brains function at a higher rate. And that in order to perform they need to use both sides of the brain.
As a musician myself,I truly believe music should be part of any curriculum. Arent religious types always saying that its a gift from "God"?

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 07:01:00 UTC | #377392

cam9976's Avatar Comment 18 by cam9976

With regards to their guest choices, the Daily Show is fairly good. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has been on quite a few times and a scientist or intellectual is interviewed almost every week.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 07:01:00 UTC | #377393

clunkclickeverytrip's Avatar Comment 19 by clunkclickeverytrip

It has been found that Homo sapiens actually sang to the Neanderthals:

na-na na na, na-na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.

Is that purile enough for you.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 08:01:00 UTC | #377405

bluebird's Avatar Comment 20 by bluebird

Dr. Sacks discusses his book via NPR (archived):

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 08:59:00 UTC | #377412

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 21 by Dhamma


That's odd. It worked perfectly fine for me, without the use of a proxy.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 09:41:00 UTC | #377416

Partisan's Avatar Comment 22 by Partisan

Curiously enough, I'm reading a book on this very topic at the moment - The Singing Neanderthals by Steven Mithern, I was even entertaining the idea of doing a dissertation on it.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 10:49:00 UTC | #377426

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 23 by DamnDirtyApe

The Daily show is my primary source of factual journalism.

They work for Comedy Central.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 11:16:00 UTC | #377430

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 24 by Dr. Strangegod

I think it's just you, Pluvialis, and a few others who seem to very confused. Do you not understand what the show is and what it's purpose is? It is not 60 Minutes. The interviews are akin to Conan O'Brian interviews, not Mike Wallace. Over and over and over again Jon has made the point that they are engaged in pure, and often puerile, entertainment. The point is to make you laugh. Any actual factual knowledge you get out of it is extra. During his tenure, Jon has slowly started weeding out the actors and celebrities and started inviting authors, academics, and politicians. Does this mean he doesn't make fart jokes with these respected individuals? No. He certainly does, and they expect that. But what he's really doing, very cleverly, is hiding content in a shroud of satire. This allows him to pretend that every serious thing said is a joke. And it's up to the audience to be clever enough to get the point. It is not a news show. It is a FAKE news show that just happens to have actual news in it, as a departure point for jokes. In their attempt to make fun of CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc., they ironically have found themselves in the position of being the source of real news, because the "real" news has become such a farce. Can you wrap your head around that?

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 11:27:00 UTC | #377432

Azven's Avatar Comment 25 by Azven

The Daily Show wasn't on today for some reason (the show for the 8th would have been shown today on the 9th in the UK).

I was so annoyed.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 13:12:00 UTC | #377456

Hellene's Avatar Comment 26 by Hellene

5. Comment #394660 by friendlypig

"Interesting to note that Handel took much of his music for the Messiah from bawdy Italian songs. Somehow seems appropriate."

The melody for the American national anthem has similar roots.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 13:38:00 UTC | #377458

Mel Olontha's Avatar Comment 27 by Mel Olontha

I hope somebody puts this pbs-documentary on youtube quickly. Can't wait to watch it.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 16:18:00 UTC | #377484

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 28 by KRKBAB

I love the Jon Stewart show and his brand of comedy. I still am embarassed to be an American, though. The word orgasm is mentioned- people laugh- someone says "and things get bigger" and people laugh. Adults. Adults laughing at things that should normally make a 14 year old laugh. American adults. Yes, I'm embarassed to be an American. Please, let there be a support group where I can go and stand up and say: "Yes, I am an American and that embarasses me". poopy tinkle titty fart - hee hee hee - lord help me

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 17:35:00 UTC | #377491

Pluvialis's Avatar Comment 29 by Pluvialis

Comment #394788 by Lucas

I appreciate your explanation, Lucas. Perhaps it is just that I find the host stupid rather than funny, and though I can see how you'd call what he's doing clever I don't identify with it at all. The guy's jokes are nothing other than awful and the whole show simultaneously fails to either deliver sufficient content of interest or parody anything amusingly.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 18:06:00 UTC | #377492

NormanDoering's Avatar Comment 30 by NormanDoering

"Handel took much of his music for the Messiah from bawdy Italian songs."

And you can turn church hymns into Death Metal with a few changes.

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 21:29:00 UTC | #377508