Arts & Entertainment, Music

Bridging Arts and Sciences

Yo-Yo Ma

Lesson time 07:22 min

Highlighting the importance of artists and scientists, Yo-Yo uses this lesson to articulate the interconnectedness of art, science, and philosophy.

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Topics include: The Artist-Scientist • Bach as an Artist-Scientist


[MUSIC PLAYING] YO-YO MA: Art is part of the same project as science. Artists and scientists are both working to understand ourselves, one another, and our environment and to help others do the same. Good art has elements of good science. Both depend on seeking truth on a scaffolding of trust with the purpose of enriching and serving humanity. And both are motivated by the most renewable of resources, passion. Most of us who have gone to school go to college or university maybe and there's the Department of Arts and Sciences together. At one point when those universities were first founded, the arts and sciences and philosophy were all joined together. The separation of arts and sciences is a result of silos being formed because we needed to become more efficient, deeper. We need deeper knowledge into biology and chemistry and physics and music became part of philosophy or it became performers and composers and many now different kinds of music. All of these things are expanding all the time. Culture is the word that unites all of this. Education, philosophy, arts, sciences, the social sciences, the natural sciences, the humanities. All of that is invented by humans. We sometimes forget that, and we take the humanity out of it. That's why we get into trouble. The reason to put head and heart together is to make sure the human is always in the fundamental part of what we're doing. That's why we talk about truth, trust, and service. That's why we try and join old and new. That's why we make sure that the arts and sciences are connected, because the more disconnected we are, the more two dimensional we become, and then the less we can actually converse, talk, and connect with one another. Do you want to live in the world like that or do you prefer to live in the world where people actually find joy in being together, joy in learning from each other, new things that they never knew anything about and then are startled and get into worlds of wonder and awe awestruck by the richness of the world that they live in? That's for you to answer. The connection between arts and sciences are crucial. And there are several reasons for that. First of all, I believe that the best scientists are actually artists, and I think that the best artists also are scientists. And I believe that it's the meticulous, unending examination of something that leads people in each area to find what is true and what becomes universally applicable. Scientists use a tool of looking at something, trying to experiment with an idea, a hypothesis. And if you find that the result is true in one instance, if you find the exact same context, it can be replicable almost always, leaving room that maybe there can be exceptions. In art and music, you're almost like the scientist for the inner soul. Now, the inner soul, some people say, oh, there are no souls. But I'm saying that all of us have something what I call the inner life or, what is it, the human s...

About the Instructor

Likely the world’s most recognizable cellist, Yo-Yo Ma has spent more than 60 years creating meaning through music. Now, the 18-time Grammy Award winner is sharing that experience with you. Whether or not you play an instrument, explore Yo-Yo Ma’s philosophy for embracing music’s emotional power, expand your self-expression and creativity, and develop a deeper appreciation for music’s ability to connect people and culture.

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Yo-Yo Ma

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma teaches you how music can be a source of meaning, connection, imagination, and understanding.

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