Caught it? “The Nerve: Music & the Human Experience.” It’s on Radio National’s Into the Music. (I missed it last year, and thankfully the ABC are encoring it.)

Why was McCartney’s Yesterday special?

Why do mothers sing to their babies?

In a higher voice?

Do babies make us sing to them?

What is pitch? Timbre?

Why the cello?

Does Bolero match your heartbeat?

“There isn’t a music part of the brain … It’s more accurate to say that every part of the brain has a music part.”

Orgams and eating chocolate releases dopamine. And listening to music.

How come so many people can pick the first half a second (500 miliseconds) — “Ahhh…!” — of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby? (And same for Thus Spake Zarathustra.)

Each pod of whales have their own song. Their own iPod.

What the world’s most famous groupie sees in Robert Plant.

How did our bipedalism affect our musicality and language ability? And being able to dance…

Love songs are Western.

Music used as … torture. (Nirvana, Metallica)

Do certain notes actually send a physiological shiver up your spine?

If you have any interest in music, the brain, human experience, evolution and adaptation, this six-part program was made for you. It’s certainly my favourite show of the year. There is an extraordinary amount to be learned — fascinating stuff delivered with great conscision. The sound design is superb, including a world of song and music snippets — AC/DC, Holst, Eagner, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Beethoven, Verdi, gamelan, peacock, bagpipe, pygmy tribe and on. Marvellously entertaining information — I have listened to the first episode in bits and segments several times over.

Frustratingly you can’t download a podcast — music copyright whatever. You can stream it on Into the Music for a few weeks after the show plays — it’s currently on the second episode.

Or better still, go to the originating Canadian Broadcasting Company for the archives of the program — you can play any of the episodes on demand.

Just listen

Episode 1: Wired for Sound (Music & the Brain)

Episode 2: In the Key of DNA (Music & Evolution)

Episode 3: The Pipe, the Drum and the Thunder Run (Music & War)

Episode 4: Enchanted, Entranced (Music & Spirituality)

Episode 5: myTunes (Music & Identity)

Episode 6: Sentimental Journey (Music & Emotion)

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey