Saturday, April 24, 2010

Table of Contents: This Is Your Brain On Music

Publisher/Year: Plume, 2007
Synopsis: In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music--its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it--and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

-How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world.
-Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre.
-That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise.
-How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our heads.

And, taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin argues that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language.

What Others Have To Say
"Levitin's point is that when we're listening to music, our brains are engaged in an enormously complex computational task -- so complex that no man-made computers have yet been able to do anything nearly as sophisticated with sound."

The Guardian
"One recognises without difficulty the problem Levitin believes he is addressing. People who profess to know nothing about music as such will none the less talk with ease, with discernment and with real authority about the kind of music that actually appeals to them."

The Independent
"The listening to and appreciation of music, with its complex interplay between raw sensory data, cognition, memory and emotion, causes every part of the brain to get fired up. Here is a book to do the same."

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