World in Six Songs

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Overview

The author of the New York Times bestseller and Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist This Is Your Brain on Music tunes us in to six evolutionary musical forms that brought about the evolution of human culture.

An unprecedented blend of science and art, Daniel Levitin's debut, This Is Your Brain on Music, delighted readers with an exuberant guide to the neural impulses behind those songs that make our heart swell. Now he showcases his daring theory of "six songs," illuminating ...

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Overview

The author of the New York Times bestseller and Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist This Is Your Brain on Music tunes us in to six evolutionary musical forms that brought about the evolution of human culture.

An unprecedented blend of science and art, Daniel Levitin's debut, This Is Your Brain on Music, delighted readers with an exuberant guide to the neural impulses behind those songs that make our heart swell. Now he showcases his daring theory of "six songs," illuminating how the brain evolved to play and listen to music in six fundamental forms—for knowledge, friendship, religion, joy, comfort, and love. Preserving the emotional history of our lives and of our species, from its very beginning music was also allied to dance, as the structure of the brain confirms; developing this neurological observation, Levitin shows how music and dance enabled the social bonding and friendship necessary for human culture and society to evolve.

Blending cutting-edge scientific findings with his own sometimes hilarious experiences as a musician and music-industry professional, Levitin's sweeping study also incorporates wisdom gleaned from interviews with icons ranging from Sting and Paul Simon to Joni Mitchell, and David Byrne, along with classical musicians and conductors, historians, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. The result is a brilliant revelation of the prehistoric yet elegant systems at play when we sing and dance at a wedding or cheer at a concert—or tune out quietly with an iPod.

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Editorial Reviews

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)
New York Times
Dr. Levitin is an unusually deft interpreter full of striking scientific trivia.
Oliver Sacks
Endlessly stimulating, a marvelous overview, and one which only a deeply musical neuroscientist could give. (Oliver Sacks, M.D., author of Musicophilia)
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: 9780641982132
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • 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 Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University. Before becoming a research scientist, he was a record producer and professional musician. As a producer, he has a number of gold records to his credit, and has worked on albums by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Midnight Oil, and kd lang. He has played professionally with Mel Torme, Blue Oyster Cult, and David Byrne, and has published extensively in scientific journals such as Science and Neuron and audio trade journals such as Grammy, Billboard, and Audio.

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    Posted January 9, 2010

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