“Do You Believe in Magic?”

If you read my books, odds are that you have at least a passing interest in music.

Huh. That’s all wrong, actually.

The fact is, if you’re a human being, you have an interest in music. Not just a passing one, either.

There’s a lot of interesting research that shows humans have a connection with music so strong that you can argue for it being biological, if not downright transcendent.

Rather than ramble on about the subject, I’ll jump straight to the end where I show you something cool to illustrate my point.

If you’re interested in how deeply music gets its hooks into us. Here’s a video you really need to watch.

The video is only about 6 minutes long, but it’s really worth your time. The first minute is a little slow, but trust me, it’s well worth it at the end.

Lastly, I hope y’all can forgive the arcanely referential title of the blog. It’s a nod in the direction of the song by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

I’ll let those of you well versed *ahem* in the classics guess which part of that song I’m referring to.



This entry was posted in music, videos, Warm Fuzzies. By Pat72 Responses


  1. Gavin
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    The funny thing is that I was listening to music when i saw this post by the way Pat Orson Scott Card has a lot of stories that revolve around music and magic was he a source of inspiration for you?

    • Lukalock
      Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

      “Unaccompanied Sonata” is one of my favorites by Card. Beautiful short story.

    • Posted June 20, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

      I’ve enjoyed a lot of Card’s stuff over the years. But I didn’t really pull the idea of music from him, no more than I pulled from Alan Dean Foster or …. hmmm… I can’t think of a third author that’s written a lot about a musical character.

      Anyway, not really an influence as you’re thinking of it. It’s more like convergent evolution.

      • AncySauce
        Posted June 20, 2012 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

        Patricia A. McKillip is another author who has written some books in which music plays a significant role.

        One of the most powerful experiences one can have is to play an instrument or sing in an ensemble. Nothing else is like it!

        • Posted June 21, 2012 at 3:18 AM | Permalink

          Oh hell yeah. Riddle master of Hed. That was amazing stuff….

          • C.C. Williams
            Posted June 21, 2012 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

            Agreed, Ancy!

            I loved the Riddlemaster series! Haven’t thought of those in years … (gotta go dig through a box …)

            As well, some of my fondest memories from HS and college relate to choir and musical theater. (Yeah, I’m that guy! ;-) )

      • JeanBeans
        Posted June 22, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

        Isaac Asimov’s second book in The Foundation series as well as Sam Delany’s Nova had musicians who played an important part of the story.

      • plut8
        Posted June 22, 2012 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

        Let’s not forget Rojer from Peter V. Brett’s demon trilogy.
        I love Rojer.

        • AuttieB
          Posted June 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

          There’s also the Mercedes Lackey Bardic Universe that revolves totally around musicians and her Valdemar series where there are Bard-Mages who can influence the world around them through music. Or Elizabeth Haydon’s awesome Rhapsody series where the main hero is a singer that can re-name people and change their being by it..naming? what…what…

          • Gavin
            Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

            I know I loved Mercedes Lackey the music is integral the music is the magic!

  2. lepidoctora
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    My history of medicine professor does research in exactly this field. In profoundly demented elderly people, people who don’t even respond in a basic way to voices, when you play even FOUR notes of, say, Silent Night, they not only hum along, they can SING the next lyrics. They can also tell if you start a song and play a note wrong!

  3. Piccadilly
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    Faith in humanity restored!

    Made my day :)

  4. Armadilloking
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    I believe in Magic!!! It’s called The Power of Love!!!! :)

    • Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

      I think that’s Huey Lewis. Different song entirely.

  5. Mitch
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

    I believe that song goes:
    Do you believe in magic? / And I hope you do / You’ll always have a friend wearing big red shoes / If you believe in magic
    So I’m guessing the classic you’re referring to would be the Chicken Classic Sandwich?

  6. becdawg
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

    gosh, that’s so wonderful. It’s so upsetting when you see old people who seem to be reduced to less than a shadow of what they once were, but then so promising and amazing when something as simple and pure as music can open doors that no medication can. Great post!

  7. Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

    Did you read Oliver Sack’s book “Musicophilia”? It was very impressive…just like his other books.
    By the way, in The Wise Man’s Fear there was a really short part (like 4 sentences or so) which reminded me of one of Sack’s short stories. Unfortunately I don’t know what it exactly was, I think it had something to do with eyes, seeing and the brain. Shame on my memory, I don’t really know. But since then I was wondering if you’re reading Sack’s books. To me his some kind of magician, or explorer of magic, which is just right in our heads. :)

    • Little My
      Posted June 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

      Funny, I was going to post a comment about this book too. I’m most of the way through it (on the chapter about Williams syndrome now). The science is fascinating (“. . ., captain!”) but as with all of his writing I love how his focus is on the human experience of the patients he encounters, and how health issues they’re facing can be difficult but also [sometimes] open them to rare skills and an enriched perspective.

  8. Kerensky287
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    There’s really something special about music – both listening, and playing it. I used to be part of a high school band, and even though it was pretty hit-or-miss, there were times when it just…. clicked. Everyone played their part, but at the same time made it their own. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be part of a group that played more than just once a week, and for reasons other than extra credit, or for the fact that it would look good on a university application.

  9. General_Disaray
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Good on you Pat!

    That was pretty wonderful. I’m gonna have to bring one of those fancy Ipods with me when I go to my retirement home. That and my Magic The Gathering Cards. The way I figure it, when I’m in my retirement home, it will be all Magic the Gathering and Role Playing. No bridge and shuffle board for me. ;)

    Thank you.

    • Little My
      Posted June 19, 2012 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

      No bridge? But it’s one of the greatest nerd games ever. My mission when I get old and retire will be to inflict it on all my friends. There was some article a while back (New York Times?) about how it’s sort of ideal for older folks because the analytical part (which gets very complex!) keeps the brain sharp, and the social aspect is good for the rest of you.

  10. jadiana
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    I have this theory that Man sang before he spoke.

    And I recently found out that I’m not the only one that has thought about this. Steven Mithen wrote The Singing Neanderthals for example, on the same subject.

    In a nutshell I think that we have trivialized music and we have marginalized dance. I think that language, song and gesture are all a subset of human Communication. In a way I wonder if we aren’t limiting ourselves by not being able to utilize the full set. Would some otherworldly culture find us ‘dumb’ in the sense that we are blind and deaf to some degree?

    I have asked myself, since I was young, why is it that when we sing something, it holds so much more meaning than when we merely speak the words? Why is it that a simple, “She loves you YEAH YEAH YEAH,” when sung, has depth that is somehow lost otherwise?

  11. Lorraine
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Music is magic.

    One experience stuck with me from early in life. A family friend had some visitors, a single mom and her seven year old son. The boy had struggled with serious adjustment and sensory disorders his entire life. He was pretty introverted, but seemed like a sweet kid.

    I was just a high school student and studied music. Our friend asked if I could play a song, so I whooped the violin out and played some Irish stuff.

    That little boy sat and played on the floor while I played music. After I finished, he ran up, bear hugged my legs and whispered, “thank you.”

    His mom was sobbing. I found out later that those were the first words that boy had ever uttered. His mom, all his therapists, teachers, he’d never spoken a word to any of them before that.

    • Little My
      Posted June 19, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

      That’s an experience you can dine out on, forever. Wow.

    • Loraine
      Posted June 20, 2012 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

      That really touched my heart. I have an autistic son, and he definitely had his favorite songs, and jingles on TV. When he was being rolled in for his CT scan, he sang “Shame, shame, shame on you” (from the consumer protection part of the news). The California Raisins freaked him out, but he loved all the candy commercials.

  12. Trenin
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    Here is an interesting article. I wouldn’t classify Adele as a “classic”, but music is definitely something that can make us smile…


  13. Posted June 19, 2012 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    All the magic’s in the music and the music’s in me.

    (I’m reminded of Susan’s horn).

  14. leaf101
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Permalink

    Awwww that was so heartwarming:)

  15. JoBird
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    There’s something wrong with me. Obviously. There must be.

    I didn’t find this heartwarming. I didn’t see this as a testament to the power and sanctity of music. No, instead it seemed more like propaganda for IPODs, and a cruel sort of propaganda at that. The sort that takes advantage of folks for caring, and being human.

    They couldn’t have played this poor old man some music before they got their mitts on a handful of IPODs?

    The video was of a senile old fella who didn’t talk much. Apple graced his life. Then he was a senile old fella who remembered he digs music the most.

    I’m not trying — honest — to put anybody on a bummer. Rather, I’m just reflecting on my own inability to see the world as you apparently can. Color me jealous.

    Still, I suspect that if you could keep watching the clip it would end dark. After all, they all do if you follow them long enough, right.

    • Kashiraja
      Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:49 PM | Permalink

      there are two kinds of doubt, positive doubt and negative doubt. negative doubt justifies itself by saying it’s being realistic, but it ends up in excessive skepticisms and dogma and the question is, does it make you happy? are you really being realistic? what is really real? is it real, or is your belief?
      the positive doubt is using the power of reason – balanced with positive feelings of happiness and kindness.

      maybe it’s exactly like that, they didn’t think of playing music to an old sad person before they got an ipod.

      there’s bad everywhere. why focus on it. one can focus on the good things in life without becoming unrealistic.
      that is what I try to do, not always easy, but the alternative is not for me anymore :)

    • Theodora
      Posted June 20, 2012 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

      Hi, JoBird

      I think you have a point. It was wonderful to see that guy react to music, but to what extent will that affect his prognosis? Not much, probably. For his family, though, it’ll make a huge difference and that is a lot.

      If you ever had to say a long goodbye to a beloved one, one that lasts for years, if you ever had to say goodbye to one piece of that person every day until there isn’t much left, then you know what I’m talking about. And if you hadn’t, I trust that you can imagine what it’s like. Music gave that guy’s family a piece of him they thought they’d never see again. That, for me, is heartwarming.

      Music is magic but what is the magic of music? What can it do for a patient with brain damage? Neuropsychiatry is not magic. Having that kind of expectation is unrealistic and can only lead to frustration. I have worked with psychiatric patients and have had to deal with relatives’ illusions and false hopes. To me it’s important not to play with that cause I know they’ll take anything you give them. Families never lose hope (thank God!). All they want is a magic song.

      • JoBird
        Posted June 20, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

        Greetings, Theodora,

        Magic is a brilliant fantasy. A touch of enlightenment, a few words of power, a wand and a staff, maybe a pinch of bat guano or what have you, and now we hold the ingredients to escapism. The ingredients to wonder, and the fuel to warm up our hearts.

        The other night that song “We Are Young” was playing. You know the one:

        “Tonight . . . We are young . . . So let’s set the world on fire . . . We can burn brighter than the sun.”

        Now, when the song came on I was having fun. In fact, I’ve had a lot of fun in my life. I’ve been beyond myself at a party in a castle. I’ve enjoyed wrap parties in LA. I’ve skipped rocks on oceans, and been surrounded by more good friends than I probably deserved. People have loved me, and I have loved them, and I have been centered and as happy as I think a fella can get.

        I have enjoyed the birth of my daughter. And that is substantial. It probably trumps all of the other great moments in my little life.

        But you know what I noticed that night? I’ve never been so happy that I felt like standing up and screaming: Tonight . . . We are young . . . So let’s set the world on fire . . . We can burn brighter than the sun!

        And I suspect that not many other people have been either.

        My only point — if it’s even remotely possible that I have one — is that it’s all a lie. Maybe it’s a little white lie, but it’s still a lie. Music creates this idea of happiness that happens to not be congruent with the real thing. Rather, it’s a heightened, overly romanticized version of the real thing.

        It’s sort of like the way Hollywood dupes our children into thinking that love is magical. It’s crap. Love is hard work. But a heck of a lot of folks out there think that they’re looking for movie love. So. The spark is left untended, and sputters, and marriages crash and burn.

        Yeah. Maybe magic is music. If that means that they are both lies. If that means that they are both brilliant fantasies engineered to help us escape reality.

        Perhaps a cynical part of me just rebels at the notion of marketing a product by filming (and selectively editing) a tragedy.

        Recently, I read Pat’s books. Obviously, I like them enough to be here. Actually, I went back to his first blog post, and started my read there, travelling through the last five years of posts and comments.

        Those early posts were great, in my humble opinion. There were raw moments where we really got a glimpse into Pat’s life. Personally, I consider those moments to be a real privilege — we’ve been able to follow the thoughts of a man who went from borderline poverty to unquestionable success.

        And I’ve noticed (and I’m not alone here) that Pat’s success has affected the folks who comment in his blog. The comments have become more (only for lack of a better word) sycophantic. (Cringing from using that word, sorry.) In other words, it’s a little weird that everyone here thinks this is heartwarming, and that no one else notices something dark lurking underneath.

        Where am I going with that thought? Gosh, probably nowhere.

        So, shifting gears. Yes, Theodora, life has forced me to say more goodbyes than I care to remember. Some of them have been long; long enough to poison me. The kind of long where hope dies before the patient, where new suits are bought months before the funeral.

        And some have been sudden. The kind of sudden that stops your life. Like a car crash, and a body too young thrown through the windshield. The kind of sudden that lingers forever.

        Anyway, I was going to end this with something about acceptance being a brilliant reality, juxtaposed with magic being a brilliant fantasy.

        But blah. To anyone who reads this, I’m sorry. It just hasn’t been a good night.

        • IvoryDoom
          Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

          JoBird –

          Its all about perspective. You could focus on the fact that this guy probably could never even use an ipod on his own, or that he generally looks miserable before they put the music on.

          Or you could look at the fact that for an instant, that man was sent back to a time he remembered being happy and that music is what sent him their. (Magically!) Its also nice to see that his caretaker, clearly cares about him and wants to make the last years of his life as pleasant as she possibly can, when so many elderly people are abused.

          Theirs nothing you can really do about dementia or the ills of ageing, so why focus on it? At the very least, someone took the time to find SOMETHING that could bring a smidge of happiness and life back to a person who is clearly lost. To quote one of my favorite fantasy figures –

          “Focus on the solution, not the problem”

          I dont know, I’m an awful optimist though. I was raised to see the good in everything and believe the universe has a general plan I probably dont understand. (So I guess you could say I really do believe in magic LOL)

          I guess what I’m saying (yah, I lose my points in overtalking as well) is that “shit happens”

          You cant control people dieing or living, fast or slow. But you can make a difference whether small or large. I just want to encourage you to look at things from a more positive angle. Since I am the sort of person who bursts into a song from happiness and after 8 years with the same man still thinks their love is as magical as Belle and The Beast’s. LOL Sure, stuff is hard sometimes, thats not bad. Doing things that are hard builds character and makes you a strong person for the people around you to lean on. I think that is the point most people miss. People like you have described are people who dont want to face a challenge and overcome it because it’s “Too hard.” I think plenty of hollywood movies portray this aspect. Sure the guy and the babe fall in love, they dont fight over who left milk out but they do usually have to overcome some difficult momentous moment afterwhich they realize that they are stronger together. My opinion is people sometimes give up too easily and thats no ones fault but their own. On another note, its really not Hollywoods fault people have skewed versions of how life should go – if you base your life off of a two hour relationship – you should expect your relationships to last about that long.

          (which brings me to one of my favorite songs, Love Like the Movies – By The Avett Brothers, you should totally check it out, I’ll bet you’d at least love the lyrics LOL)

          I really encourage you to try and see the good in all things. I know its rough sometimes, but its always lurking about if you try and find it. I’ve had people pass in my life both fast and slow as well. When its fast, I’m thankful they did not have to suffer. When its slow, I’m thankful that I was granted the time to prepare myself. These are small things to be thankful for in comparison to the pain thats created by such events, but it brings me back around full circle. There is nothing I could have possibly done to make things different, so what little good you can find is worth holding tight to so that maybe one day, in the future, I could offer someone else the sympathy, empathy, and advice they desperately need to continue.

          *resists urge to burst into “Circle of Life” from the Lion King*


          I hope you get what I’m saying. I only wish to offer you a little strength.

  16. joedetroit
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    My boss’s wife has early onset Alzheimer’s… I’m sending him this link. It hurts a lot when he talks about her.

    Pat, you rock!

  17. Posted June 19, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Do you believe in Magic in a young girl’s heart
    How the music can free her whenever it starts

    One of my favorite all time songs and so appropriate.

  18. michaelrwilson2011
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    This is a great video at the World Science Festival where in Bobby McFerrin proves definitively that music is a human default setting. It is so hard wired into our systems that he gets the same results no matter where he tries this musical experiment. Awesome to watch:

    • IvoryDoom
      Posted June 22, 2012 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

      I was just going to post this! LOL

      Bobby McFerrin is super interesting. I watched this on TedTalks not that long ago and it blew my mind.

  19. Crystal
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

    There’s a wonderful movie called The Music Never Stopped based on Oliver Sack’s essay “The Last Hippie”, about this phenomenon. Highly recommended if you liked the clip Pat posted. It’s on Netflix, both streaming and DVD.


  20. darkmatter
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

    Music and art are incredibly powerful. When I was a counsellor, I’d start with a new client by using a cognitive approach but often I’d use art therapy, getting people to explore while drawing. One woman drew a box full of crap, then destroyed it and drew another box, open, beautiful, a feature for her home, saying that was like her now. Others would find realisations helping them to move forward more quickly through art than cognitive therapy provides. I used soft toys (think Muppets and Sesame St) to help women explore abusive relationships in safety. Another watched Runaway Bride to explore with Julia Roberts the need to find self, to work out who she was. I didn’t use music much as I needed to source a library before it could be effective, but I recognised the power of music as well: power to relax, power to energise, power to get inside our hearts to help us heal. After I lost my job due to disability discrimination, I listened to music that was sad with hopeful endings.

    Thanks for sharing that video. It was great to see music helping the elderly but even more so, it was fantastic to see those working with the elderly being so passionate about their work and caring so much.

  21. Vatiquada
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

    I am just rereading Name of the Wind and I caught an “Arrow to the Knee” reference. 1. Pat Rothfuss, knowing and using Skyrim references before the game is conceived or; 2. Pat Rothfuss, so amazing Skyrim uses HIS references. Which sounds better?

    • duke7883
      Posted June 19, 2012 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

      Where is that reference?

      • Vatiquada
        Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

        All of the guards in Skyrim say it, and when Kvothe is recognized by one of the travelling guards in his inn, he fakes a knee injury (he says that he took an arrow to the knee) and Bast helps him upstairs.

        • duke7883
          Posted June 20, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Permalink

          Wow. Wow. You are totally right. Went back and reread that section and Kvothe was definitely the original guard who took an arrow to the knee. I wonder if someone over at Bethesda likes Name of the Wind? :)

          • plut8
            Posted June 22, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

            I’ve wondered the same thing.
            googled it a while back, there’s a few forum threads wondering about it.

            I like to assume that it was Rothfuss-inspired.

  22. justajenjen
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 8:05 PM | Permalink

    That is really awesome. I really do think that music is a magical thing. I’ve got a friend with an Autistic child. She was told that her child would never talk or be able to communicate ever and now that child is a teenager who loves to watch and sing along to Glee. I think that’s pretty awesome.

  23. Bartb11
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Pat and fellow fans of Pat! Not only do I always enjoy Pat’s blog entries, I also enjoy the comments and responses and often find books to put on my ‘TO READ’ list. Reading books and playing/listening to music are both part of daily life in my family. We used to calm the screaming kids in the car by singing Old McDonald had a farm…they would soon start participating in choosing the next animal and making animal noises and forget about being upset.

  24. Linegod.Ens
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    It seems very logical that music has power. I am a very logical person, when I listen to music I hear the words and try to discern their meaning since music is just another form of communication. The magic is in the feeling, I start to decide this song is about Love, adversity, or nothing at all and by that point it matters very little because I have started to feel the music. My feet move with out a need to ask for a reason and my mind simply understands without a need to translate the meaning. After all,”all translation is imperfect.” And music allows us to transcend that fact.

    PS: My mastery of English is still a long road and much bad grammar away.

    • Tayacan
      Posted June 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

      Don’t be embarrassed about your English – you seem pretty fluent to me ;-)

      That aside, what a fascinating video! Hmm, maybe I should figure out what my grandma’s favorite music is – she’s 99 and mostly happy, but still, why not?

  25. SporkTastic
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    I love excuses to watch and share this video. I have no doubts whatsoever in the power of music…and LOOOOOVE seeing the reactions people have when they’re experience it. (And having those reactions myself, of course.)

  26. RH
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

    Brain studies have shown that music works on a different part of the brain. One bit of fiction that touched on this was in David Brin’s second Uplift trilogy (Brightness Reef and/or Infinity’s Shore). One character had major head trauma that took his speech, but he eventually he found he could still sing.

  27. Lee
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

    I’ve seen this for myself performing in nursing homes. There were a few people so withdrawn that you could tell they were just existing there until they passed away. We’d play some of the corniest old show tunes, and you could see the spark come back and watch the different ways they’d follow the music. Apparently this was literally the only interaction with the outside world that some of them ever showed anymore. Talk about getting a whole new perspective on show tunes in a hurry.

  28. Posted June 20, 2012 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

    Pretty heartwarming, thanks Pat.

  29. b7olsen
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    Loved the story. I heard this story for the first time in April on NPR:

  30. Lauralyn
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    Octaves = cosmos. cosmos=magic.

  31. lilacmoon71
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

    performance by staff and residents of a nursing home in Kitchener, ON


  32. Ruyh
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    Hey pat i have some questions to you:
    1.Does Elthe means the one that hears?
    2.Is Dagon an Amyr?
    3.Where is the questions section?

  33. 00radio
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 6:29 PM | Permalink

    Someone mentioned it up above, but I’d also say “Musicophilia” by Oliver Sacks is a pretty brilliant book. The other one I’d recommend is “This is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel Levitin. Really interesting stuff on how music can almost take a short-cut to emotions.

  34. Posted June 20, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

    what passion cannot music raise and quell

    favorite poem of all time :)

  35. Lauralyn
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Permalink


    It does for me at least :].

    I loooves it


  36. Noktelon
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    I have no idea were this actually comes from but when people started mentioning other authors and how music plays important roles in their writing I was immediately reminded of how Kvothe playing Felurians name made me think of Theo Vilmos joining the wild goblins under the bridge in their goblinjazz jamsession in Tad Williams’ the War of the Flowers

    more on topic it’s really fascinating to see and experience again and again how powerful music is, life wouldn’t be complete without it


  37. priscellie
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    This video had me in tears. The man’s condition at the beginning of the video reminded me of my grandfather in his final years, after a series of small strokes had reduced a brilliant MIT graduate whose life story read like a pulp action novel to a walker-bound, incoherent nonagenarian who couldn’t handle solid foods. Most of the time, he didn’t appear to recognize me or my sister. It was heartbreaking. I can’t help but wonder if music could’ve brought a little of his old vitality back.

  38. sabo
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    Hi Pat,

    I like reading your blog and I always thought of you as a brilliant writer and – what is more important – a very passionate and honest person. I don’t believe you encourage your fans to spread the knowledge of a very cleverly made Ipod commercial.

    I liked that video very much. Until the last 30 seconds. Didn’t you hear what that guy said at the end? “That beautiful new technology” (“all the music in something as big as a matchbox”) .. “may be very, very important in helping to … bring a sense of identity back to people”.

    Unfortunately we have too much of this “beautiful new technology” here in Europe, too. Stopping people from talking to each other.

    Not long ago I saw a documentary on German TV about young people who went to Nursing homes to play music there. With real instruments, encouraging the old people to join into the singing. That made me cry. That was wonderful. But even a few old people sitting together and listening to music from a device much bigger than a matchbox, listening together to the same music would be a much happier sight than this lonely guy. Without earphones they could even talk to each other while the music is playing. What a wonderful world that would be …


    PS: Excuse my faulty English, I’m fairly out of practice.

  39. DrFood
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 10:53 PM | Permalink

    Music is powerful stuff. Now I’m wondering why I don’t listen to it more often these days. I fill up my device with podcasts of people talking, mostly. So many topics I want to know more about, so much I enjoy hearing. In the car, I’m listening to NPR (or Stephanie Miller in the morning).

    Still, music resides in a different part of the brain. I have a terrible time with names–names of people, sometimes even names of medications (that’s my job so I need to be fluent in such things) and yet, I’ve got the complete lyrics of hundreds, perhaps thousands of songs stored so deep it seems they’re never going to leave.

    I’m planning on being lucid until I drop dead, but if it doesn’t work out for me, come by with a boom box, please! I do believe in that sort of magic.

  40. JoBird
    Posted June 22, 2012 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    Folks, frankly, it’s impossible to have an open discussion about the magic of music without giving this due consideration:


    This is a cautionary tale. Music is not a toy.

  41. rmcphail
    Posted June 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    The below link is not so much about music, but is awesome. I post it in somewhat troll-like fashion in the hopes that the cynical ipod commercial person above might feel better about humanity. And because I think it would make Mr. Rothfuss happy as well.


  42. hadaad
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

    Grandma sang on the radio way back in the day. She passed away in a nursing home 8 years ago, in the middle of singing a song. Her funeral was all about how much she loved music and how much the staff and other residents of the nursing home loved listening to her sing.

    I haven’t thought about that in awhile. Thanks for sharing this and bringing Grandma back to mind.

    Man, the dust in this office is really thick. (rubs eyes)

  43. Purple_Shade
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    That was quite an interesting video, it is good to see people enjoying the things which mean the most to them in old age, it is a mixture of memory and interest.
    However, I very much doubt it would have this effect on every person. I say this because, I picture myself at 90, and I think it’s possible, if I were as unaware as Henry, that being pressed into listening to music would be torture for me.
    Some people are very moved by music, they live their life by it, they can not picture life without it, I am not like them. I enjoy music casually, do not mistake me, there are very few humans who do not do at least that; but I use my ears to hear the rest of the world, the sound of birds and streams and rustling leaves in the wind, are all sweeter to me than what humans can create. They’d have to play me a nature tape in the nursing home, but they’d do better to hope I still had my eyes, and let me see colours. I, live by colour. I draw and paint, and see my emotions in colour (synesthete); that old question, would you rather be blind or deaf, I’d choose deaf. Almost no one I’ve ever met chooses deaf, so many people love music so much. I find it fascinating, but I do not share their passion for sound, my eyes are the window my world, doing without them would make me a sad person indeed.

    Actually, the thing I found most interesting about the book “The Name of the Wind” was the fact it was through a musicians eyes.
    Not just ‘about’ a musician, as some books can be while they give no details, but instead presenting the opinions of a person who truly believes that music is integral to life, whose world is fully painted by that belief; that, which is alien to me.
    I have befriended many musicians, and though I can enjoy music, I can go months without it and not really miss it, and for me, to have music played too often, leaves me miserable; I need quiet like some people need music.
    It is nice to see the world from so intimate, a different perspective, I thank you for that Patrick Rothfuss. Though still, perhaps you should know that not everyone holds music so dearly, as everyone else on this comments section.
    However, I must say, Patrick’s statement: “The fact is, if you’re a human being, you have an interest in music. Not just a passing one, either.” rather rings hollow to me. I do not think it truth. I am okay with music, but I suspect there are those who are beyond even me, and do not have any interest what-so-ever. It does not make them any less human in my eyes, no more than my own ebbing and flowing interest in the topic, should make me any less human in anyone elses eyes.
    There are too, those who are deaf, I do not think they are less human either.

    Also, contrary to rumors I’ve heard, not everyone who is not a ‘music lover’ has a heart of stone, and no artistic-perspective; I, for one, am wholly enamored with the beauty of the world, curious, with a very splayed pattern of thinking, not static or ‘math-minded’.
    Everyone is just a little different, I think that’s a great wealth to all of us.


  44. megankm
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

    My grandfather has Alzheimer’s and has pretty much lost his speech. He can get out a few words here and there, but mostly he trips over himself too much to actually get anything out. It is devastating to see.

    After hearing a story on NPR about Music Therapy, I started singing with him, though, and that has made all the difference. We sit together and sing songs and he has no problem with the words of songs and singing along. It makes him so happy and we have so much fun sitting and singing all of his old country songs. Whatever little neurons that the music fires, each is a small miracle with me as I sit with Papaw and sing.

  45. cd2222
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    Every year we have a tradition of collecting gift cards and then surprising unsuspecting people at the holidays with them as gifts or using them to pay for their items in the store. We usually are able to get in and out before the person understands because we want them to not be uncomfortable. If they catch us to ask us why the answer is always the same and its because they are special and the only one like them in the world. I have often struggled with how we could help in the elderly community because some are left behind. This has inspired me to change it going forward! We will continue with our tradition but now add in some gifts of music to the care facilities for the elderly. Thank you for sharing this because it has my brain working overtime to think of how I can get iPods or similar to do this. What a wonderful gift you gave me today and I thank you do much.

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