Mind matters

There‘s a musician in all of us. according to concert violinist Paul Robertson. who presents a new series on the psychology of music.

Eddie Gibb tunes in.

In the classic W78 docutlicntat'}' series 'l‘ln [loi/i /n Quest/int. Dr Jonathan Miller. a Renaissance man who is as at home directing a ('oxent (iardcn opera as he is conducting a routine medical examination. took \‘lt.‘\\L‘l'.\‘ on a magical llt} ster} tour of the human mind and body. llis training as a doctor. coupled with an artist's abilin to see the bigger picture. enabled Miller to ol‘l‘er insights into the human condition which transcended a purer scientil‘ic appraisal of blood. bone and tissue.

.\'ear|_\' twent) scars on. professional violinist l’anl Robertson has set out to e\amine the psychology ol' music and linds himself Visiting territor} which is not a million miles from .\lillcr’s l'usion ol art and science. The basic premise of .\lnsie :lllt/ 'l'ln' .llnn/ is that the apparentl} innate human abilit_\' to understand. recognise and appreciate music tells its something l‘undamental about the was the brain works. ‘.\lusic makes us humanf asserts Robertson at one point in the three-part series.

Robertson. w ho pl;t)s with the .\lediei String Quartet and is a Visiting professor ol‘ music ps)chiatr} at Kingston l‘nii'ersit}. has become increasingl} convinced that a better understanding ol how we appreciate music could unlock man} secrets ol‘tlie brain. He believes that music is the point where scientists could debate consciousness and the

Music And The Mind: violinist Paul Robertson believes we are all ‘intrinsically musical‘

soul. which time traditionall} been the preser\e ol‘ artists and philosophers. l.ikc .\liller. Robertson proposes a Renaissance approach to understanding the world in which science and art meet. ’l‘lirough )c‘ais ol' gi\ ing recitals to audiences bulging with doctors. he has alt‘cad} noted the close allittil} between music and medicine

"l‘here‘s an unhealtlw situation we liaxe in our culture towards the arts.‘ sa_\s Robertson. ‘lt is seen as a coliiiiiodil} }ou can bu_\ lll. but it‘s not like that

it's a i'el'lcction ol something that resides w itliiii tis I reckon we lia\e got it a bit wrong somebod} that is lll\t\l\cil in studying musical laws l‘t.‘ e\cltltlc‘tl ll'ttlll science.’ l)L'l‘[‘lL"\ tllllltltlc‘ llils

slnl'ted. oka} science is brilliant but where's the point

wh_\ should

it it doesn’t address the real issues ol' being. human ." .\Inxit .lnr/ 'l/n .l/rnr/ is the result or a liltecnrie'ar quest b} Robertson to understand the [‘\}t‘lltlltl}!} ol music. and each programme in the series is tilled witli e\amplcs ol' academic research which is looking at aspects of this lledgling science ls’eseai'clict's‘ at one .\merican imixeisits beliexe that listening to classical music belore \llllll‘..' an IQ test enhances pei'lormance. w liile another group ol' researchers demonstrates that esposing sitting children to music can impro\e their abilit} to complete picture pu//les. \ltist remarkable ol'all is the .\merican surgeon who

' uses music in place ol' anaesthetic dining maior

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In the linal programme. ".\laclianes. Magic and .\lt‘tllclllt‘.. Robertson lillls\ lii I't‘st‘al’cllt‘l's lll the llc‘ltl ol' artilicial intelligence w ho are teaching computers to be ‘musical' He was p;irtictilail_\ impressede a computer programme which pro\ ides piano aecompaniiiiciit to his \ioliti pla_\in;_'. not simpl} as a pre programmed s_\nthesiser backing track but rising a s_\ stem w lircli actualls ‘listens' and responds to the soloist 'l hat‘s more than real piano accompanists do. Roliel'lsrill iokcs

‘( ‘omputers are perlormmg m a wa_\ we can understand as iiitisicalb intelligent.~ lic sass WVc‘ie not had a _\oim;: Yehudi \lcmihin coming out ol a little bo\. but the tact the} can do it at all is ama/ing. “ere getting aw lull). close to computers \'. llll musical imagination and e\pression ls’obertson's enthusiasm loi computer generated music Is not so he can pack his x iolin awa} tor lore-\cr quite the opposite but tor the wa_\ it improx cs our understanding ol’ nzusic ‘l arn now lolall} com mccd .lll human beings are intrinsicall} lllllslt‘dl,‘ he


.l/t/m .\Iir/ //.i< .l/Jljr/ I'M :J/t.'\ or: .\w; _‘ .l/ri‘. w'


Yes, we have 3 no . . .

Picture, if you can, a soft-soap mix of 3 Eastnders and The Archers set at the ; brink of Britain’s involvement in World War II. Add a cast of British TV and 3 film luminaries of varying skill and levels of success and you have some notion of the BBC’s ten-parter Ila Bananas. Like the Merseyside saga And The Beat Goes On which is hanging on to its conclusion on Channel 4, this is another sepia-tinted nostalgia drama.

The location is Kent and - metaphor

No Bananas: war-time knees up

alert - two families are also at war,

one living in splendour in the country

with tennis courts as far as the eye I

can see, the other in the child and

canine-strewn streets of London. Their

1 connection is a marriage across the

social barrier of a serviceman and a rich daughter. The boy has done two women wrong. His marriage looks set

to be a sham, forced upon him by a

sense of duty and his conscience

while his true love has been

abandoned and is set to go and join

the battle in order to forget.

All this may have been remotely interesting were it not for the writers’ inability to avoid trotting out the same ' old class-warrior stereotypes. Rent-a-

gran Edna Dore is the irritating Cockney matriarch with a tendency for speaking her mind at all the wrong moments. There is the fox-draped and

over-plummy aunt played in a trance by Stephanie Beacham and the twirly- moustachioed Moseleyite uncle with a burning loathing of Jews and conscientious objectors.

Most disappointing of all, the normally excellent Tom Bell is cast as the stubborn yet well-intentioned father attempting to control his home with a velvet claw and a sneer.

Quite where all this is heading remains a mystery which may yet throw up a few welcome surprises. A storyline involving the scarcity of nylons would also be a fair bet.

The question is whether No Bananas will succeed in captivating an audience long enough to persuade them to stick with it. (Brian Donaldson)

No Bananas starts on Sun 5 May on BBCI.

'l'he list i lb .\la} l‘l‘Ni 85