Customer Reviews for

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Finally a book that explains music!!!

This book is a pure joy to read. It's amazing that a musician decided to become a cognitive psychologist and has revealed the secrets of how music and our brains function. It's written in easy to understand prose that is accessible to musicians and non musicians alike. ...
This book is a pure joy to read. It's amazing that a musician decided to become a cognitive psychologist and has revealed the secrets of how music and our brains function. It's written in easy to understand prose that is accessible to musicians and non musicians alike. Well trained musicians will have an easier time reading because they already understand the nuances between musical terms, however it's all explained so that a non musician can understand it. It reminds me of the books that Albert Einstein wrote explaining his theory of relativity for non physicists. Clear, concise information is well presented so the average reader can fully comprehend how music and the brain function. It's a revelation worth discovering if you have any serious interest in music of whatever genre! Enjoy!!!

posted by 1534564 on June 29, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

For the reader who has ever wondered why they like the music they like

It is very rare to find an individual with the experience in music, psychology, and neuroscience like Daniel Levitin; rocker turned music producer turned neuroscientist. When he was working as a music producer, he became interested in why and how music operates on the h...
It is very rare to find an individual with the experience in music, psychology, and neuroscience like Daniel Levitin; rocker turned music producer turned neuroscientist. When he was working as a music producer, he became interested in why and how music operates on the human brain. He became so interested that he went back to school to study just that. He studied how the brain turns sounds into patterns that we think of as songs, how we remember those patterns, and how they are stored and bring up many different emotions. Levetin was a part of the discovery of important neural processes that explain why music can touch you so deeply, and believes that our brains seem to have evolved to maximize musical ability.

It is great that a person with the credentials and musical background that he has wrote a book to explain why music affects us the way it does in a way that is easy to follow. This is not written just for the study of neuroscience nor only for the study of music, but it is written for the average, everyday music lover.

For the reader that may not completely understand the linguistics involved in music, the first chapter goes into detail of some terms that may not be familiar. Terms such as: pitch, reverberation, or timbre. Although this chapter is very helpful as a refresher from junior high music class, it is very long and repetitive. I found myself losing focus and keeping a countdown of pages till it was over which is never a good sign when reading a book.

Once past the 50 pages that seem like they were torn from a music textbook, things start to get interesting. He begins by explaining the distinction of the mind, "the part of each of us that embodies our thoughts, hopes, desires, memories, beliefs, and experiences," and the brain, "an organ of the body, a collection of cells and water, chemicals and blood vessels, that resides in the skull. Activity in the brain gives rise to the contents of the mind." He then explains how music reaches the brain and the reactions it causes on different neural regions followed by how the reactions of the brain affect the mind.

The book answers many questions that most people have, but do not bother finding the answers to. He describes why songs from our teenage years have a greater impact on us than music from later, why songs get stuck in our heads, he describes them as "ear worms", and why we like the music that we like. This is written very clearly for the non-specialist and certain topics have been simplified to easily understand, but was done in a way where it wasn't overly-simplified. This is a great book for anyone who as ever said, "I like this song." Then followed it up by asking themselves the question, "but why do I like this song?"

posted by bahr41 on October 28, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2009

    Finally a book that explains music!!!

    This book is a pure joy to read. It's amazing that a musician decided to become a cognitive psychologist and has revealed the secrets of how music and our brains function. It's written in easy to understand prose that is accessible to musicians and non musicians alike. Well trained musicians will have an easier time reading because they already understand the nuances between musical terms, however it's all explained so that a non musician can understand it. It reminds me of the books that Albert Einstein wrote explaining his theory of relativity for non physicists. Clear, concise information is well presented so the average reader can fully comprehend how music and the brain function. It's a revelation worth discovering if you have any serious interest in music of whatever genre! Enjoy!!!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Book! Trumps All the Others

    I loved this book! I'm a fan of brain and cognitive science, having been a psyc. major many years ago. Books such as 'Brain on Music' rely on the science of today to prove what we were only beginning to suspect many years ago.

    Daniel Levitan must be one of those wonders. With an early background in music, a career as a music business professional and then a return to school to complete a doctorate in music, and then -- of course, this book.

    He trumps all the other researcher-writers, such as Goleman and Pinker. I just love how these academics slip in little pot-shots at one another -- Levitan pointing out that music is not just a linguistic after-thought and slipping in a little tweak at Pinker.

    The book explains just enough music theory for the average reader and then really digs into the science of brain structure and physiology that enable us to perceive and understand music.

    My daughter who is a senior in high school and participating in music classes is now reading the book. The music theory sections are reinforcing and supplementing what she is learning in school.

    If you are into either music appreciation or brain science then this book is a MUST.

    Read it - you won't be disappointed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Levitin makes the study of the brain intriguing. His organization and presentation give the reader a great understanding of thought and feeling processes. Music especially involves the brain in more extensive ways.

    Daniel Levitin has an eclectic background giving validity to his research. In addition his writing style is entertaining especially generously sprinkled with his own experiences with others well-known in psychology of the brain.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    Music to My Mind

    Music is an amazing thing that changes how we feel life and Daniel J Levitin superbly explains how music effects us. In "This Is Your Brain on Music- The Science of a Human Obsession" Levitin unravels the mystery of music and the human mind. This book helps the average person expand their knowledge on the trends and peculiarities of music. Levitin broadly covers the subject of music and where it touches on the human life, and does so fully and entertainingly. He interestingly engages readers with tiny snippets and stories of his life in the music-producing world. The only dislike I had for this book was some of Levitin's rambling and pseudo-ADHD writing style when he is trying to link one subject to another, but all in all it is a fantastic read: educational, thorough, and highly engaging. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has even the slightest interest in music.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    Dazzling

    This book did more than stimulate new thoughts about music and brain function. This book deepened my love for live.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    For parents of advaced readers

    My daughter loved this book. She is an advanced reader (14) and studies piano, ballet and lots of other things independently. She found this book interesting enough to quote to her parents.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    This is Your Brain on Music Review

    An extreme source of knowledge, for just music and science. It's highly recommended to buy.

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