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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Professor Alice Roberts: Is Music a Civilising Force?

BBC Radio 3, iPlayer: "Professor Alice Roberts chooses to look thousands of years back in human and pre-human history for signs and signals that music was not so much a civilising as a humanising force. Her exploration takes her to ancient archaeological sites where traces of early instruments have been found and the evidence of shifts and re-shapings in our pre-hominid ancestors which suggest some kind of musical interaction long before language developed".

I think Professor Roberts will be fascinated by Christopher King's forthcoming book, Lament from Epirus . An Odyssey into Europe's Oldest Surviving Folk Music

They share an interest in prehistoric flutes found in caves, the origins of music as holistic symbolic communication and as an aid to survival, group bonding, mating and the expression (and soothing) of grief.


  1. HI Jim, I'm thinking of visiting Greece in May or June, I have not been there since 1969. On that trip I went to Athens, Delphi, Mykonos, Delos, Santorini, Chios, Rhodes and Crete plus some other spots on the mainland but did not get to the Ionian islands. A friend told me her son was in Greece last summer and said it as awful, filthy and depressing. I have wonderful memories of my trip but that was long ago and I know Greece has been struggling economically and impacted by migrants. I'm 66 and not very physically fit (recovering from a broken ankle). I iwould hate to go and end up regretting it. What would your advice be? Sorry to make this a comment but could not find a way to email you. Have been a subscriber for some time and enjoyed the blog a great deal! PS am in NZ now

  2. Hi Chris. I've been going to Corfu and other parts of Greece since 1967, and I love the culture and the country, but things have certainly changed a lot since 1969! Better to avoid the high season. We often go in May, but if you enjoy swimming, June makes better sense. Having once had a broken ankle in England, I understand your caution. The islands' streets and uneven pavements (towns and villages) aren't that easy to walk around with that condition, so sightseeing might be a challenge. Would you be bored staying in one convenient hotel? The volume and density of tourism may prove the main challenge or deterrent if you choose the wrong location, not the economic aspects. Migrants not a problem in the Ionian Islands. In fact they have been a boon in the building and service industries. That's my view. I hesitate to recommend particular places. I can't agree that it's awful or depressing: just the opposite, but be prepared to endure a garbage problem and some 'visual pollution' if the landfill sites are not operating properly. NB I don't live in Greece, but visit each year. I'm always very happy when I'm there, even if people find some things to complain about!

  3. My reply seems to have disappeared and don't have time to reconstruct in full so will just say thanks

    1. I'm sorry that your reply disappeared. It never reached me. If you do find time, please do send further comments.