Episode available within Canada only.

Who hasn’t felt the urge to sing in the shower, to chime in on the chorus of their favourite tune or belt out an anthem at a sporting event? Melodies ring out at every important human activity — from romancing mates to soothing babies, from worshipping to mourning, celebrating to protesting. 

But why? Are we hardwired for music? Addicted to rhythm? What power does music have over our bodies and our brains? Scientists have only recently begun to seriously examine how and why music has such a profound effect on humans. 

People at LiveLab with brain sensing hats onPartipants at LIVELab music experiment

Some of the newest research is playing out in Canada, at musical laboratories such as LIVELab in Hamilton,  Ontario, a one-of-a-kind concert hall where scientists are measuring brain waves of musicians and their audiences to determine how music creates undeniable social bonds. Archaeologists have also produced significant keys to unlocking music’s mysteries, particularly in caves of Germany’s Swabian Alps where they’ve unearthed from Ice Age sites the world’s oldest known musical instruments. These ancient flutes are surprisingly sophisticated artifacts that attest to music being played more than 40,000 years ago, by the first Homo sapiens.

MORE:
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Epic Musical Moments That Brought Canadians Together

According to archaeologist Nicholas Conard, even that far back in time, music appeared to be a staple of human existence.  Alongside tools and materials from cooking and heating, they found flutes. It appears that music and musical instruments were part of daily life.

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Does heavy metal music provoke aggression?

Like language, music seems an essential tool employed by humans for multiple needs. Babies studied by researchers in Canada draw on their experience of synchronous and asynchronous musical rhythm to define people who are friendlies; researchers studying heavy metal fans in Australia find that aggressive music actually calms and reduces hostility; in Sweden a researcher and musician discovered that choirs that sing certain melodies together cause their heart rates to synchronize. Now a cardiologist is exploring if guided breathing while listening to music can normalize heart rate variability and improve recovery for a stress-related heart ailment. 

Rapper Sean forbesDeaf rapper Sean Forbes

Humans’ unerring ability to anticipate the beat in music showed neuroscientist Jessica Grahn that rhythm triggers the exact areas of our brains that control movement, a discovery which she’s trying to use to allow Parkinson’s patients and others without muscle control to regain that function.

Even when our innate link to music is physically challenged, humans instinctively still strive to connect with it. Severely tone deaf Tim Falconer feels such an emotional connection to music that he’s spent years with a professional music coach attempting to overcome what is truly a genetic mutation. The amusia that affects his brain in a condition that occurs in almost four per cent of the population.

Deaf rapper Sean Forbes has created a successful career out of writing, recording and performing music even though he has a 95 per cent hearing loss. It’s the continual tug of the beat he can feel that’s creating such a wide range of emotions in him.

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All our crooning and trilling, strumming and drumming propels our bodies and minds to behave and react in ways that still aren’t clearly understood. I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song is a documentary that vibrates in perfect harmony as it unravels some of the most compelling mysteries of music.

Credits (Click to expand)

directed by
Connie Edwards

produced by
Connie Edwards

written by
Helen Metella

story editor
FM Morrison

Researchers
Helen Metella
Connie Edwards

director of photography
Allan Leader CSC

additional camera
Mark Foerster
Douglas Cole

sound recordist
Larry MacDonald

additional sound Australia
Matthew Ault
Jonothan Wilson

production manager
Leah Iwaniuk

editor
Glenn Sakatch

visual research & clearances
Leah Iwaniuk
Sue Belair

visual effects & titling
Kirk Hutton
Trevor Sieben
Joe Raffa

post production audio
Perry Blackman

colourist
Glenn Sakatch

publicity
Gordon Imlach

accounting services
Gail Yakemchuk

legal counsel
Norm Bishop

original music composed by
Alec Harrison

Loudest Guy on the Bus,
written by Tom Altobelli, Chris Bruder, Jordan Snider, Scott McIntosh, Ryan Cassidy 

Hungry Hippos,
written by Tom Abtobelli

Floydian Slip,
written by Tom Altobelli, Chris Bruder, Jordan Snider, Scott McIntosh

Leon's Bridge,
written by Tom Altobelli, Chris Bruder, Jordan Snider, Scott McIntosh

Wisdom I - III and Daybreak - call,
written and performed by Anna Friederike Potengowski

Bye and Bye,
Writer: Milton Ray Biggham
Published by Arisav Music Inc. and Peertunes Ltd.
Bye and Bye,
Performed by Georgia Mass Choir
Courtesy of Malaco, Inc.

Regnig Asfalt,
written and performed by Rickard Astrom

My Heart Can't Tell You No,
Written By Simon Climie; Dennis Morgan
Kobalt Music Publishing America, Inc.

My Heart Can’t Tell You No,
Written By Dennis Morgan and Simon Climie
Courtesy Of BMG Rights Management Canada

La Bamba,
Written by Ritchie Valens
Published by EMI Longitude Music (BMI)
All rights reserved.  Used with permission.


La Bamba,
By Ritchie Valens
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)

I’s the B’y,
traditional
arranged in the Orff style by Judy Sills

Inertia,
written and performed by Adriatic

Ilijas,
Written by N. J. Zivkovic
used with permission by Gretel Verlag Dinklage

Xylophonia, arr. Bob Becker
Copyright 1992
Marimba Productions Inc.
Keyboard Percussion Publications

Jump Right In it,
Performed by Brett Miles Band

The Line,
written and performed by Some Fellows

Another One Bites The Dust,
Written by John Deacon
Published by Queen Music Ltd. (PRS)
All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

Another One Bites the Dust,
Performed by Queen
Courtesy of Hollywood Records, Inc. & Mercury Records UK,
under exclusive license from Universal Music Canada Inc

Dotoh and Chiyo,
Written by Emiko Kinoshita
Performed by Kita no taiko
© Kita no taiko
Used by Permission

Before I Grow Too Old,
Written by Antoine Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Robert Charles Guidry
Published by EMI Unart Catalog Inc. (BMI) 
All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

I Got Rhythm,                                      
By George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin                 
WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) and Ira Gershwin Music (ASCAP)
All rights administered by WB Music Corp.           
Performed by Brett Miles Band

“Kemekem“ (I Like Your Afro),
Performed by:Meklit, Featuring Samuel Yirga
Courtesy of Six Degrees Records/The Orchard

Can't Take Away The Good Times,
Written by Sean Forbes & Jake Bass
Published by Def Deaf Music (BMI) Boca J Music (BMI) Jeff Bass Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Two Blown Speakers LLC

I'm Deaf,
Written by Sean Forbes & Jake Bass
Published by Def Deaf Music (BMI) Boca J Music (BMI) Martin Affiliated LLC (BMI)
Courtesy of D-PAN Entertainment

Watch These Hands,
Written by Sean Forbes & Jake Bass
Published by Def Deaf Music (BMI) Boca J Music (BMI) Martin Affiliated LLC (BMI)
Courtesy of D-PAN Entertainment

Sir Duke,
Written by Stevie Wonder
Published by Jobete Music Co., Inc. and Black Bull Music c/o EMI April Music Inc. (ASCAP)
All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

Sir Duke singers,
Forbi Hirwood
Brayden Foo
Corey Sutton
Madi Allen
Amanda Franklin


archival footage
Westone Productions

FremantleMedia North America / 19 Television Limited

Clearwater Documentary Inc.

Throat Singing Performed by Nelson Togoona
footage courtesy of the National Music Centre

Avtex Sports

Snowball video
courtesy of Irena Schulz of Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service


special thanks to
Kokopelli Choir
Robertson-Wesley United Church Choir
Canterbury Cathedral Choir
Dutty 3.0 Dancers
Marie-Lynne & Amanda Leroux 
Bissett Elementary School
Brett Miles
Thom Golub
Jamie Phip
Dwayne Hrynkiw
Gary Sharpe

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