Language, Art and the Brain 2005

Art and Mind


Language, Poetry and the Brain

A one day exploration of the springs of poetry

 22nd October 2005

Theatre Royal Winchester

To be introduced on stage and co-ordinated by the poet

Ruth Valentine.

Starting with the fundamental musical and linguistic structures of the brain this Festival will explore the evolution of language into consciousness and the flowering of poetry and music in human cultures. This one-day event, through live talks and performance, will present a unique combination of science and art that we hope we will illuminate poetic creation. With poets, musicians and scientists working together we believe we may open doors onto a new perception of the deep wellsprings poetry.

Garry Kennard

Director – Art and Mind


Each session will include a time for questions from the audience

Session One

The Evolution of Language

 11.30am – 12.15

Perceiving and Producing Music and Language:  A Neuroscientific View.

A discussion of the current understanding of the brain basis of singing, speaking, music listening, language understanding, and music and language improvisation.

Professor Larry Parsons, University of Sheffield

Professor Parsons has presented lectures all over the world on language/music and the brain topics.

12.15 – 1.15pm

The Archaeology of the Mind

A look at how language and music co-evolved during human evolution, and relate to the emergence of consciousness and culture

Professor Steven Mithen, University of Reading

Professor Mithen’s books include ‘The Prehistory of the Mind’ (1996). His latest publication is ‘The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body’.

1.15pm – 2.30             Lunch

Session Two

Words and Music

2.30 – 3.30

Music – A Language too Precise for Words

An exploration of musical ‘language’

Professor Paul Robertson

This great violinist, who presented the TV series ‘Music and the Mind’ has a particular interest in how music makes its effects on the brain.

4.00 – 5.00

Is Language a Kind of Music?

Language and musicality in babies.

Professor Bob Turner, University College London

Professor Turner is credited with developing Functional Magnetic Imaging . He has a particular knowledge of the role of music in cognitive behaviour.

5.00 – 7.00 pm            Supper break

Session Three

The Rhythms of Life

 7.00 – 7.30

Performance of new works by participants in the previous week’s workshops. Hosted by our in house poets.

8.00 – 8.45


The rhythms and sound of poetry –

A distinguished poet discusses her work

Ruth Padel

Renowned poet and scholar Ruth Padel’s latest book is ‘Tigers in Red Weather’.

9.00 – 10.00


Ruth Padel performs her own poetry


Matthew Barley and his group

‘Between the Notes’

who will explore, and add their own associations to, the music of these wonderful poems:  witness a new work in the making.

Cellist Matthew Barley with his ensemble ‘Between the Notes’ has performed around the world in an astonishing variety of collaborations as well as performing as a solo artist.