This Is Your Brain on Music
The Science of a Human Obsession
By Daniel J. Levitin
This book arrives at a comprehensive scientific understanding of how humans experience music and why it plays such a unique role in our lives. It is a meeting of the two worlds of art and science.
The author seeks to unravel the mystery of our relationship with music - perhaps a love/hate relationship?
Ever have a tune you could not get out of your head? Throughout history certain music has been deemed subversive or even banned. Where does the power of music come from? This investigation of the role of music in human evolution and everyone's daily lives synthesizes psychology, neuroscience and musical examples from Mozart to Eminem. First the author explains the elements of music - pitch, rhythm, etc. Then, citing research, he explores the perception of music in the human brain. Using a variety of music, Levitin shows that a cascade of activity, from the eardrum to cells inside the brain that regulates emotion, is set off whenever we hear music. He also shows how composers exploit the way our brains make sense of the world, how our musical preferences begin to form before we are born, and how musical expertise is built.
Levitin asserts that we are all more musically equipped than we think because our brains are hardwired for music. He demonstrates that music is an obsession at the heart of human nature, perhaps even more fundamental to our species than language.
Introduction - I Love Music and I Love Science - Why Would I Want to Mix the Two?
1. What Is Music?
From Pitch to Timbre
2. Foot Tapping
Discerning Rhythm, Loudness, and Harmony
3. Behind the Curtain
Music and the Mind Machine
What We Expect from Liszt (and Ludacris)
5. You Know My Name, Look Up the Number
How We Categorize Music
6. After Dessert, Crick Was Still Four Seats Away from me
Music, Emotion, and the Reptilian Brain
7. What Makes a Musician?
8. My Favorite Things
Why Do We Like the Music We Like?
9. The Music Instinct
Evolution's #1 Hit
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