Daniel J. Levitin

April 12, 2007

Guitarist, producer, psychologist, and musicologist Daniel Levitin takes on the age-old question of what music is and why we love it so much in this fascinating and well-written book. He not only provides concise explanations of a ton of music terms (such as the difference between pitch, timbre, and tone), but he also sheds light on the unique way in which the human brain processes music and sound. He dispels the myth that the right side of the brain deals with music, offering studies on people with brain damage who can no longer read a newspaper but can still sight-read a chart and those who lack the motor skills to button a sweater but can play the piano. He provides scientific explanations of why people with no musical training can remember literally hundreds of melodies and can know when an instrument or voice is out of tune. In a nutshell, it’s because we as a species are hardwired for music. Levitin makes a compelling case and he does the near-impossible by dissecting something beautiful and instead of depriving it of its magic, he makes it all the more magical. Some passages are pretty deep and a little daunting to make it through, but this is great reading for anyone who has ever played, listened to, or loved music. Hey—that’s all of us!

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