David Byrne on How Music Connects Us

I’m Dacher Keltner, and this is The Science of Happiness.

Today, we’re launching a new series about how music affects happiness. What draws us to certain melodies and rhythms? How do we find our identities in certain genres of music? And why can it make us feel more connected, or even soothe us to sleep?

This week, I have the privilege of speaking with David Byrne, the former frontman of Talking Heads, about how music can help us communicate and connect.

Later in the show, we’ll learn about the science of music and social bonding.

But first, David Byrne.

David, all I can say is your work gives me the chills, and thank you for being on our show.

Dacher Keltner And there is this idea that’s really emerging right now that music is a container of our identities over time and across boundaries. And it’s a way that the self extends, like you say. I’m just curious how you got to that idea?

David Byrne After a while I thought well, we have to acknowledge we’re social animals. Uh, maybe not quite like ants, but there’s, but we do share that, uh, what’s it called? Eusocial?

Dacher Keltner Yeah. We’re like bees and some birds.

David Byrne Yes. We share some of that. With each species it’s a little bit different how that kind of social connection works, but, that’s part of who we are. And I realized that, we’re not just individuals. Our identity, who we are as entities and people and whatever, is intimately tied up with other people. 

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