Hard-Wired Songs

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Take a moment and look around you — and don’t be surprised if you see CDs, headphones, a stereo, or even some musical instruments. It's not a coincidence, says writer, musician and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. Humans are hard-wired for music.

Long before Beethoven and Bono, Mahler or Miley Cyrus, there was the first song. It helped early humans tell stories, find food, and warn their children of danger.

Fast forward tens of thousands of years, and we’re awash in music: it’s the age of Guitar Hero, American Idol, and the iPod. Yet Daniel Levitin says that even millions of songs later, there are just six types of song, and they help tell a story of music and human evolution.

This hour, we're talking about music, human nature, and Daniel Levitin's "The World in Six Songs."

You can join the conversation. Where does the human need for song come from? Do we still sing about the same things we always have? What's in your iPod? Share your thoughts.

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Joining us from Montreal is Daniel Levitin, author of the new book, "The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature." His previous book was "This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession." He's a professor at the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University, a saxophonist, guitarist, and the former vice president of A&R for San Francisco’s “415 Records.”  You can read more about his research at his website.

Joining us from New York is singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash. The daughter of Johnny Cash, she has 11 number-one hits on the Billboard Country charts. Her most recent album, "Black Cadillac," was widely named one of the best of 2006 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana album.

This program aired on August 15, 2008.


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