World In Six Songs

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The author of the New York Times bestseller This Is Your Brain on Music reveals music's role in the evolution of human culture-and "will leave you awestruck" (The New York Times)

Daniel J. Levitin's astounding debut bestseller, This Is Your Brain on Music, enthralled and delighted readers as it transformed our understanding of how music gets in our heads and stays there. Now...
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Reprint Good [ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ] [ Edition: Reprint ] Publisher: Penguin Group Canada Pub Date: 8/11/2009 Binding: Paperback Pages: 358.

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Overview

The author of the New York Times bestseller This Is Your Brain on Music reveals music's role in the evolution of human culture-and "will leave you awestruck" (The New York Times)

Daniel J. Levitin's astounding debut bestseller, This Is Your Brain on Music, enthralled and delighted readers as it transformed our understanding of how music gets in our heads and stays there. Now in his second New York Times bestseller, his genius for combining science and art reveals how music shaped humanity across cultures and throughout history.

Dr. Levitin identifies six fundamental song functions or types-friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love-then shows how each in its own way has enabled the social bonding necessary for human culture and society to evolve. He shows, in effect, how these "six songs" work in our brains to preserve the emotional history of our lives and species.

Dr. Levitin combines cutting-edge scientific research from his music cognition lab at McGill University and work in an array of related fields; his own sometimes hilarious experiences in the music business; and illuminating interviews with musicians such as Sting and David Byrne, as well as conductors, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. The World in Six Songs is, ultimately, a revolution in our understanding of how human nature evolved-right up to the iPod.
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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)
New York Times
Dr. Levitin is an unusually deft interpreter full of striking scientific trivia.
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)
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)
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: 9780143167815
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada
  • Publication date: 8/11/2009
  • Pages: 368

Meet the Author

In his enthralling and revelatory This is Your Brain on Music Daniel Levitin unpicked the pathways of the brain to reveal how human beings have been hard-wired for music. Now, in an astonishing blend of art and science, he unveils his revolutionary theory of 'Six Songs', and describes how music played a pivotal role in the creation of human culture and society. Dividing the sum total of human musical achievement, from Beethoven to The Beatles, Busta Rhymes to Bach, into just six fundamental forms, Levitin illuminates, through songs of friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion and love, how music has been instrumental in the evolution of language, thought and culture. And how, far from being a bit of a song and dance, music is at the core of what it means to be human. A one-time record producer, now a leading neuroscientist, Levitin has composed a catchy and startlingly ambitious narrative that weaves together Darwin and Dionne Warwick, memoir and biology, anthropology and a jukebox of anecdote to create nothing less than the 'soundtrack of civilisation'. The World in Six Songs will change the way you listen to music for ever. Daniel Levitin is the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill University. Before entering academia he worked as a session musician, sound engineer and record producer. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

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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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