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Season 11 | Episode 10

The Power of Music

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Hand playing the piano (Jack Mallon/flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

Sure, music can move us, but it can also save our lives, transform people into a legends, and even knock down walls (maybe). This hour, we explore some of the outer edges of the power of music by gathering up a band of biblical horn-blowers, paying a midnight visit to a corner of Mississippi where the devil is rumored to grant wishes, and by helping an angsty 18th century composer push some classical musicians to their physical and psychological limits. 

Bite the Dust

Whatever your feelings on Disco, it's hard not to root for the resurgence of one particular track that started taking CPR classes by storm. Producer Ellen Horne explains how one aptly named 70s mega-hit could help you save someone's life.

Then, Jad and Robert pit physics against an ancient tale. ...

Comments [1]

Need for Speed

There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But it turns out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit.

Alan Pierson, ...

Comments [2]

Letting the Devil Tune Your Guitar

In this short, we go looking for the devil, and find ourselves tangled in a web of details surrounding one of the most haunting figures in music -- a legendary guitarist whose shadowy life spawned a legend so powerful, it's still being repeated... even by fans who don't believe a ...

Comments [3]

Comments [6]

Alex Rediger from Baltimore

I'd like to say its fun to read biblical literalist comments but it's not. It's boring. Battle of Jericho as literal and scientific? Is the halting of the sun in another Pentateuch military battle going to be argued next?

Feb. 05 2014 03:18 PM
Andrew from Portland, O

Wow. Lot's of missing the point going on these comments.

I'm pretty sure that they just wanted to figure out whether or not the horns could knock down the walls, not figure out how to knock down walls. I thought it was a fun journey through a myth and problem that most of us hadn't delved into.

Thanks Jad and Robert!

Dec. 02 2013 05:43 PM
significantDigits from universe

PLEASE rename your podcasts in YYYY-MM-DD format so that they sort correctly!

Dec. 01 2013 10:52 PM
fishinsfun from KUER Salt Lake City UT

I laughed so hard at "the Walls of Jericho" bit at the end, that i had to bow to the computer...

Dec. 01 2013 08:45 PM
carolyn whitney from Florida

You did not contact anyone with military, tactical knowledge. You also completely discounted the marching around the walls for the previous six days. Any military tactician will remind you that the vibrations (a kind of music) of the marchers would have, if they marched in unison, weakened the walls significantly prior to the blowing of the trumpets/shofars. This phenomenon is why soldiers do not march across bridges in unison. You really need to do this story over and not focus so tightly on your definition of music.

Nov. 30 2013 12:27 PM
Watt deFalk from Portland, OR

In the segment on Joshua and de Battle ob Jericho, I can't believe no one mentioned the powerful effect tonal resonance can have on objects. Remember the old Memorex commercial with the shattering glass? It's much more likely Joshua's musicians found just the right pitch or pitches to play to arouse sympathetic vibrations in the walls and knock them down that way. This topic has long been a pet peeve of mine: too many people miss the most important lesson in this Bible story, which is how SYMPATHY can have much greater power than simple brute force.

Nov. 29 2013 05:08 PM

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