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.
Here he 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.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Table of ContentsThe World in Six SongsChapter 1: Taking It from the Top or "The Hills Are Alive . . ."
Music and poetry. The two uniquely human components of the music brain.
Chapter 2: Friendship or "War (What Is It Good For)?"
Social bonding, synchronous coordinated movement, the evolution of emotional bonding, protest music for group cohesion.
Chapter 3: Joy or "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut"
The first song. Neurochemical effects of music and music therapy.
Chapter 4: Comfort or "Before There Was Prozac, There Was You"
Why we listen to sad music when we're sad. Lullabyes and the blues. (And a short story about depressed restaurant workers pushed to the edge by a happy song.)
Chapter 5: Knowledge or "I Need to Know"
Music as an information-bearing medium. Learning, memory, and oral histories.
Chapter 6: Religion or "People Get Ready"
The role of music and ritual in creating order, reducing ambiguity, and commemorating important times and events.
Chapter 7: Love or "Bring 'Em All In"
The sense of hearing and the prefrontal cortex. Tools, musical instruments, and shaping the environment. The evolution of social structure.
What People are Saying About This
"This wonderful, lucid book takes on one of the great eternal questions: Why is there music? What does music do for humanity-for individual development and for a culture--that in turn accounts for its existence in every known society? Daniel Levitin is not only the preeminent expert in answering such questions, but one of those unique writers about science who understands his field so profoundly that he can make the complex straightforward. This is an exciting, revelatory book."--(Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and Ordinary Heroes)
"Music seems to have an almost willful, evasive quality, defying simple explanation, so that the more we find out, the more there is to know, leaving its power and mystery intact, however much we may dig and delve. Daniel's book is an eloquent and poetic exploration of this paradox. There may be no simple answer or end in sight, but the ride is nonetheless a thrilling one, especially in the company of a writer who is an accomplished musician, a poet, a hard-nosed scientist, and someone who can still look upon the universe with a sense of wonder."
"Daniel Levitin writes about music with all the exuberance of a die-hard fan, and all the insight of a natural-born scientist. This is a fascinating, entertaining book, and some of its most inventive themes may stay stick in your head forever, something like a well-loved song."--(Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love)
"A must-read. . .A literary, poetic, scientific, and musical treat."
"An exemplary mix of scientist and artist, student and teacher, performer and listener."
-Library Journal, starred review
"A fantastic ride."
"Leading researchers in music cognition are already singing its praises."
"I was skeptical when I began reading. The stated goal seemed outlandish. But by the time I was about one-third the way into The World in Six Songs, I realized just how powerful it is. It really is a tour de force. It is exquisitely written, and brings together a vast array of knowledge, tying things together in creative ways, while always remaining accessible. This promises to be not only another widely read hit, but also an important document for the field of music cognition."--(Jamshed Bharucha, Provost and Professor of Psychology, Tufts University)
"To try to cover the meaning of music throughout the history of mankind to how we still use it everyday is extraordinarily ambitious. Combining musical expertise, psychology, anthropology and evolutionary science, Daniel Levitin's Six Songs has accomplished this astonishing task."--(Jon Appleton, Composer and Professor of Music, Dartmouth College and Stanford University)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"The World In Six Songs" picks up right where "This Is Your Brain On Music" leaves off. As Levitan gets closer to his hopeful hypothesis in the latter, he thinks he has found it and explains thoroughly in "Six Songs". He begins by establishing the known facts that support him, like the unmistakable emotional power of song. He ask the audience to notice this quality of music. This is the style of Levitan. He asks you to notice things you already know and spells out the connections. Using metaphors and personal experiences he brings you to the truth he wants you to discover. Tracing music through all of evolution is quite the ambitious goal but he puts forth that music was one of the first ways of communication between man. If this intrigues you, you should be reading the book by now. Levitan is a gleeful pushy guy about his theories, so those more attracted to hard objective science might be less inclined to listen to his tone. If you don;t might his excitement then pick up the book and learn why you sing to your baby or feel so happy at concerts.