This Is Your Brain on Music
The Science of a Human Obsession
By Daniel J. Levitin
Plume Books, Paperback, 9780452288522, 322pp.
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
List Price: $16.00*
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In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin ("The World in Six Songs" and "The Organized Mind") 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 worldWhy we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. DreThat practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertiseHow those insidious little jingles (called "earworms") get stuck in our headTaking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, "This Is Your Brain on Music" will attract readers of Oliver Sacks and David Byrne, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.
"Endlessly stimulating, a marvelous overview, and one which only a deeply musical neuroscientist could give. . . . An important book."
-Oliver Sacks, M.D.
"I loved reading that listening to music coordinates more disparate parts of the brain than almost anything else - and playing music uses even more! Despite illuminating a lot of what goes on, this book doesn't 'spoil' enjoyment - it only deepens the beautiful mystery that is music."
-David Byrne, founder of Talking Heads and author of How Music Works
"Levitin is a deft and patient explainer of the basics for the non-scientist as well as the non-musician. . . . By tracing music's deep ties to memory, Levitin helps quantify some of music's magic without breaking its spell."
-Los Angeles Times Book Review