The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature

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Overview

Daniel Levitin's bestselling debut, This Is Your Brain on Music, was an engaging and lively introduction to the neural impulses behind music. Now Levitin explores how the evolution of our brains made music, art, science, and society possible. He uncovers six fundamental ways that songs communicate emotion and ideas - songs of friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love - and so have built human nature.

Mixing cutting-edge neuroscience, his own sometimes hilarious ...

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The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature

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Overview

Daniel Levitin's bestselling debut, This Is Your Brain on Music, was an engaging and lively introduction to the neural impulses behind music. Now Levitin explores how the evolution of our brains made music, art, science, and society possible. He uncovers six fundamental ways that songs communicate emotion and ideas - songs of friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love - and so have built human nature.

Mixing cutting-edge neuroscience, his own sometimes hilarious experiences in the music business, and illuminating interviews with experts from Sting and David Byrne to conductors, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists, Levitin reveals the prehistoric, elegant systems at play when we sing and dance at weddings, cheer at a concert, or tune out privately with an iPod. These six songs will enlighten the musical brain behind your life.

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Editorial Reviews

Oliver Sacks
Endlessly stimulating, a marvelous overview, and one which only a deeply musical neuroscientist could give. (Oliver Sacks, M.D., author of Musicophilia)
Nancy Pearl
The book I've been waiting for all my life. (Nancy Pearl, public radio librarian and auth or of the Book Lust series)
David Byrne
I loved reading that music coordinates more disparate parts of the brain than almost anything else. . . . Deepens the beautiful mystery that is music. (David Byrne, founder of Talking Heads)
New York Times
Dr. Levitin is an unusually deft interpreter full of striking scientific trivia.
Library Journal

In this follow-up to his New York Times best-selling This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, Levitin argues that every song ever written can fall within six categories and that music "is a core element of our identity as a species, an activity that paved the way for more complex behaviors." While he includes a wide variety of song examples to support his argument, his explanations of evolutionary causations for music become repetitive. As for his narration, it is dry and, at times, embarrassing-as when he reads lighthearted song lyrics meant to be sung. Sloppy editing causes some tracks to start mid-word, and the discs lack sequential announcements. Surprisingly, the recording does not take advantage of the medium by including any significant music samplings. Further, the notes from the hardcover edition are omitted here. Of limited interest to public and perhaps high school libraries. [Audio clip available through us.penguingroup.com; the Dutton hc received a starred review, LJ Xpress 7/22/08.-Ed.]
—Johannah Genett

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525950738
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/19/2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel J. Levitin runs the Levitin Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University, where he holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communications. Before becoming a neuroscientist, he was a record producer with gold records to his credit and professional musician. He has published extensively in scientific journals and music trade magazines such as Grammy and Billboard.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Taking It from the Top or "The Hills Are Alive ..." 1

Chapter 2 Friendship or "War (What Is It Good For)?" 41

Chapter 3 Joy or "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut" 83

Chapter 4 Comfort or "Before There Was Prozac, There Was You" 111

Chapter 5 Knowledge or "I Need to Know" 137

Chapter 6 Religion or "People Get Ready" 189

Chapter 7 Love or "Bring 'Em All In" 229

Appendix 291

Notes 295

Acknowledgments 335

Index 337

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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