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September 17th, 2008:

The World In Six Songs by Daniel Levitin

Okay, now this book is hot off the press and I haven’t had a chance to review it other than the sample that’s availabel on Dr. Levitin’s website. This book – The World In Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature – “shows how six specific forms of music played a pivotal role in creating human culture and society as we know it. Levitin masterfully weaves together the story of human evolution, music, anthropology, psychology and biology from the dawn of homo sapiens to the present.”

“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..”
- Sting

The “Six” are Friendship, Joy, Comfort, Knowledge, Religion and Love. You can listen to Dr. Levitin on CBC’s The Current from this morning’s show discuss the Six Songs. Here is the podcast which can be eloquently summed up as follows: Music makes us human…

Listen to Podcast:

Happy listening and may the Muse (and Science and the Six Songs) be with you…

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This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin

Well, I was going to wait till I actually finished the book to right about it, but since the author, Prof. Daniel Levitin, appeared on CBC Radio’s The Current this morning (to discuss a new book of his), I thought I’d make my first thoughts on this “old” book known.

The book is – This Is Your Brain On Music - and it’s a wonderful, thought-provoking achievement regarding the “science” of music. Don’t get scared by that thought (re “science”) as the book is lucidly entertaining, drawn from the real-life experience of the author as a musician/producer/scientist (don’t see that combination every day).

Yes, the “raw” science of sound is analyzed – that path of sound vibrating air molecules and triggering nerve impulses in the listener. But “music”, as opposed to just “sound”, can bring simple yet complex analysis within the brain that delves into the timbre, pitch, tempo and other musical elements. And it’s fascinating, without destroying the soulfulness or mystery of music.

As Levitin himself simplifies the book in his introduction to be: “what music can teach us about the brain, what the brain can teach us about music – and what both can teach us about ourselves”. I’m finding that I out as I complete the book…

Listen to Podcast:

So have a listen above or download the podcast (from CBC’s Quirks & Quarks, Dec/06) as well and know that his new book The World In Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature has just come out… see next post.

May the Muse (and science) be with you…

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