This Is Your Brain on Music
The Science of a Human Obsession
By Daniel J. Levitin
(Plume, Paperback, 9780452288522, 336pp.)
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
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What can music teach us about the brain? What can the brain teach us about music? And what can both teach us about ourselves?
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 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 head
Daniel J. Levitin is the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Music at McGill University, Montreal, where he also holds appointments in the Program in Behavioural Neuroscience, The School of Computer Science, and the Faculty of Education. He is the author of This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs, which were New York Times bestsellers and have been translated into 16 languages, and the upcoming book The Organized Mind. Before becoming a neuroscientist, he worked as a session musician, sound engineer, and record producer working with artists such as Stevie Wonder and Blue Oyster Cult. He has published extensively in scientific journals as well as music magazines such as Grammy and Billboard. Recent musical performances include playing guitar and saxophone with Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Rosanne Cash, David Byrne, and Rodney Crowell.
"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