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News Release 09-208

"The Music Instinct" Wins International Recognition

Documentary on the science of music collects top prize at science film festival in Paris

Photo of musician Bobby McFerrin.

Renowned musician Bobby McFerrin co-hosted "The Music Instinct: Science and Song."
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October 26, 2009

View a video about the "The Music Instinct."

The Music Instinct: Science and Song, is a television documentary that brings together researchers and musicians to investigate the biological, emotional and psychological impact of music. Elena Mannes and Margaret Smilow, director and producer (respectively), of the two-hour documentary--developed with major funding from the National Science Foundation--were awarded the Grand Prix at Pariscience 2009, an international science film festival.

A group of researchers led by neuroscientist Daniel Levitin joined musicians Bobby McFerrin, Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie, Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley to explore the connections between music and the human mind, the body and the universe.

Pariscience is among the activities organized by France's Association Science & Télévision, which seeks to promote the role of science on television and promote co-productions between international producers, institutions, researchers, filmmakers and television. Mannes and Smilow split a prize of 10,000 euros as part of being awarded the best film in competition.

More information about "The Music Instinct," along with video, a contest, lesson plans, a blog and other resources are available at


Media Contacts
Maria C. Zacharias, NSF, (703) 292-8454,

Related Websites
Association Science & Télévision:
Th Music Instinct: Science and Song:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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The Music Instinct brings together neuroscientists and musicians to explore the science of music.
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"The Music Instinct" brings together neuroscientists and musicians to explore the science
Credit and Larger Version