Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

by Oliver Sacks
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Musicophilia 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Ryan_Shewcraft More than 1 year ago
Sacks relays some very interesting stories of the strange neurological cases that he has come across in his practice. The disorders sound like they were pulled straight from a science fiction book. It was a delight to read about the many tricks that the mind can play on our perceptions.

However, I was hoping for a bit more technical explanation as to why these disorder occur. I am unsure if much of this was left out because the book was meant for a general audience or if the reason is that it is not yet understood. Lacking this technical aspect, I have to admit that I eventually dulled to the novelty of the stories and found myself getting slightly bored in the second half of the book. Nonetheless, the stories are told with genuine interest and passion, making for a both interesting and enlightening read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Musicophilia is a great book that really helps me because I am a singer with autism. I read some stories in the book that captivates for the musically active person in anyone. This is really helpful
MoriartyM More than 1 year ago
Musicophilia is not a single story, but a collection of different short stories about music and the brain. The tales range from experiences we commonly have, such as songs stuck in our heads, to other less known conditions such as musical hallucinations. Oliver Sacks is not only an author, but a professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine as well. His expertise allows for professional input that ties the book together. The overarching message that music is a uniquely human trait is apparent throughout the book.  The organization of the book is excellent. Each chapter has a several stories that all revolve around a common theme such as absolute pitch or synesthesia. The stories are dissimilar enough to maintain interest rather than repeat each other, yet they all demonstrate his point. The main thing I like about this book is I can make several connections to it even though I've never been struck by lightning followed by a sudden case of musical genius or had an epileptic fit over music. Instead of only considering rare cases of music and the brain, Sacks also included cases involving songs that get stuck in your head, times when music just becomes a bunch of indiscernible noises, and the emotions that come along with playing or listening to music. Perhaps, I enjoyed this book because music has played such a large part in my life. While I appreciated that the book was relatively easy to understand, there could have been a deeper analysis. Sacks usually switched topics before the analysis could get too far. That being said, you don't need a background of psychology, neurology, nor music to understand this book. There are few words such as “magnetoencephalography” that might trip you up. However, taking anatomy did a fine job with preparing me to break down these kind of words. That was probably the longest word in the book anyways. If you have any interest in music and how it affects you on the level of your brain, then by all means, read this book. It's interesting to say the least and will provide excellent topics of conversation if nothing else. I would recommend other books by Oliver Sacks such as An Anthropologist on Mars, Seeing Voices, or  The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. These books are also collections of stories of people with different neurological disorders. Some of the stories from these books briefly appeared in Musicophilia. 
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this book but had hoped that it would conclude or be laced with a bit more analysis and theory rather than just being a litany of case histories, however interesting and unusual. I managed to glean my own conclusions from the stories within without much synthesis from the author. He approaches the subject as a musician and neurologist and provides very factual accounts of some rare cases of musical disfunction and aptitude. Perhaps an social anthropologist, a linguist or a behavioral psychologist might have put his findings in more of a cultural context. As it is, his observations are confined to the physiological and symptomatic rather than addressing the deeper questions of the origins of music and it's function for our species. All in all, a great read. Maybe my expectations were a bit out of tune.
Robbyn-gimm More than 1 year ago
Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date.  It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further.  Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does humans are a musical species. Oliver Sacks establishes the true  ideal of how music copes within the individual mind and leaves a lifelong love for music. Musicophilia shows that music can more powerful than most individuals realize. Oliver sacks don’t stain the readers mind with science but with emotion and passion while  underlying the soft and sophisticated tone of embrigadement to connect to his audience. The assorted autobiographies that are  presented within the text creates an atmosphere of realization as the audience reads and studies connections between music and the  brain. Oliver Sacks embeds in his work with luminous, original and indispensable ideals of how the brain and music copes with one another. The lifelong love for music infuses the writing to become obsess over the realization of how music can influence once life even  if an individual hadn't had any musical talent whatsoever but under certain circumstances one can indulge themselves within days or  even years into the abstract idea of music.                                                                                     -Robbyn Gimm
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