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Bach, the Universe and Everything: the Science of Laughter

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Kauffmann Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut from ‘Harmonische Seelenlust’

JS Bach BWV 113 Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut (Lord Jesus Christ, O highest good)

Lassus Media Vita

Telemann Dolce from Sonata à 4

Dr Sophie Scott Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London


The antidote for the burdened and sorrowful soul in BWV 113 is God’s ‘healing Word’ which causes the heart to laugh again! This laughter can be heard in the Chorale and Recitative, with a burst of playful semiquavers in the continuo cello.


Continuing on the theme of giggles, Neuroscientist Dr Sophie Scott discusses the science of laughter and why we instinctively try to make each other laugh to get through difficult times.

View the performance from 11:30am on Sunday 19 July 2020

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To make this recording possible, the OAE adhered to a strict protocol. Kings Place was thoroughly cleaned prior to the event and all contact surfaces likely to be encountered by personnel were cleaned with disinfectant throughout the period of work. All participants wore facemasks except for the recording and a strict floor plan with controlled corridors of movement ensured that a social distancing of 2m was maintained at all times. There was no sharing of any kind during the project and all participants washed hands or used hand sanitiser on a regular basis.

All participants completed a health questionnaire confirming that they had not experienced symptoms of Covid-19 with the 14 days prior to the event and that they had not come into contact with anyone who had been diagnosed with the virus in the same period.

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