This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin

This Is Your Brain on Music

Whether you load your iPod with Bach or Bono, music has a significant role in your life—even if you never realized it. Why does music evoke such powerful moods? The answers are at last be- coming clear, thanks to revolutionary neuroscience and the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. Both a cutting-edge study and a tribute to the beauty of music itself, This Is Your Brain on Music unravels a host of mysteries that affect everything from p...

Details This Is Your Brain on Music

TitleThis Is Your Brain on Music
Release DateAug 3rd, 2006
PublisherDutton Adult
GenreMusic, Nonfiction, Science, Psychology, Biology, Neuroscience, Brain, Art, Popular Science, Philosophy

Reviews This Is Your Brain on Music

  • Jackie
    A book is the wrong medium for this information. As I read this book, I kept wishing I was watching a PBS show version of it instead, where I could HEAR the music Mr. Levitin was referencing, and see visuals of the brain showing what parts are being affected by music, and how they all link up. Instead of having to tell us in excruciating detail what an octave is, he could demonstrate on an instrument, and we could hear it for ourselves. When disc...
  • Matthew
    There's a lot of amazing stuff in this book to contemplate, but the author tries too hard to make it relevant for readers who listen to the Eagles and Mariah Carey (musicians he specifically sites), and he gets caught up in the most mundane details of his personal interactions with his colleagues at meetings and dinners and such, and who ordered what, and how everybody was dressed, and where everybody got their degrees.My girlfriend got me intere...
  • Sam
    Seemingly for musicians or composers this book is more fitting a read for scientists and doctors. Not much content is musicianship related. Middle third is a bore.What I learned:- There is no sound in space(there are no molecules to vibrate)- Virtuosity comes from hours of practice (talent and absolute pitch play a small role)- Learning to play an instrument after 20 is hard (the brain is done developing)- Percussion is a primitive musical trait ...
  • Patricia
    It wasn't until I was half-way through this book that things started to get really interesting. As a musician, the first half was like retaking Music 101, but I felt this was a book I need to read, so I plowed on. I am looking for answers to the questions: "Why, when I near any musical interval, my brain automatically zips through all the tunes I know which start with that interval, and I start humming one of them?" and "Why the hell have I had '...
  • Mike Bularz
    From the reviews I've seen here, the material seems to have passed over most people's heads (by being too rough, or the phrase you'll come across a few times, "I didn't feel like I walked away exclaiming 'eureka!'"... or the book angered more expert readers by its simplicity, but it wasn't meant to talk of new discoveries as much as it was meant for a general public. The book takes a while for an average person, and I'd say you have to have some ...
  • Pamela W
    I really despise myself for giving what should be an awesome book only 2 stars. I know I am mentally feeble, but was this ever dry!!! Interesting topic - neuroscience & music - but the author did go on at times (too much music theory, god I hated studying that and I'm a musician) and took the scientific aspects to a degree where I often found myself stopping to ponder "what the hell is he talking about?" It read like it could be someone's dissert...
  • WhatIReallyRead
    Two random facts about me:1) I love music2) I love cognitive and neuroscienceSo I was thrilled about this book. And it was indeed pretty good. My main takeaway from it is that our enjoyment of music stems from the setting up and violation of expectations and human's innate instinct to seek out patterns in whatever stimuli that comes our way.I recommend the audiobook version because it provides musical examples of what the author is talking about,...
  • Laura
    Fascinating study of both music and the brain. It isn't a particularly quick read because there are so many facts, studies and trivia related to each point the author is exploring.
  • Orsolya
    We tend to make music for as much granted as we do breathing. Music is EVERYWHERE. The same way that you encounter hundreds of advertisements in a day: you also encounter music in various forms.This is Your Brain on Music (yes, based on the popular egg-drug PSA, explores how music is processed within your brain and why we react the way we do. This journey within the musical brain begins with a brief description of music in terms of notes, pattern...
  • Ken
    This is one of those books that I think is a valuable read but not necessarily an enjoyable least for the general reader. If you bring a background in neuroscience then this is a treasure chest of information. My personal interest lies in music specifically and I saw this as an opportunity to better understand how our brains engage with music. Coupled with Oliver Sacks collection "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" we begin to unlock...
  • Michael
    “A” for effort and ambition and “C” for execution. He tries to be all things to all people, bouncing too much from folksy to scholarly and from self-referential to didactic perspectives. Levitin has a substantial music background, both in performance and production, and a very productive track record in cognitive neuroscience. Thus, his personal ambition to account for the neural basis of music, music listening pleasure, and musical creat...
  • Mattie
    Really cool book on the the brain's relationship with and to music. Although written for a general audience, Levitan doesn't significantly dumb down or shy away from the neuroscience at the very heart of the book. At the same time, Levitan let's a very wry, witty sense of humor season his writing. Finally, he's got both the musical and scientific chops to understand the subject matter from both sides. This means there's enough science and detail ...
  • J
    Have you ever wondered how you can listen to an orchestra and pick out the melody, or pick out the violins from the whole ensemble, or pick out the first violin from the violin section, or separate the orchestra from the car alarm outside? If you ever wondered about music and why it is so appealing to us, you'll find this book interesting. Beginning with the basics of how musicians and scientists define music, it moves on to discuss how our brain...
  • Marco
    Loved it! The book was highly enjoyable for me and I'm not a professional musician (or a neuroscientist), but I've always been aware of what music can do to me, from meditation to headbanging and beyond. I've read some people got disappointed of finding 'too much music theory' or 'too much neuroscience'; well honestly I don't think the book has to much of either of them, it's not written for neuroscientists or for professional musicians (even whe...
  • Bill
    Someone left this behind in the cubby of the plane seat on a flight I took in December. As I'd finished my magazines, I picked it up, and then couldn't put it down. What was most fascinating about the book was the ease at which concepts I'd struggled with years ago were made crisp, clear, and, well, obvious, as they should have been back then. Introductory concepts of music were never made as clear to me than from this. I don't think I could have...
  • Bruce
    In Daniel Levitin's own words, "This book is about the science of music, from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience…. I'll discuss some of the latest studies I and other researchers in our field have conducted on music, musical meaning, and musical pleasure…. [H]ow can we account for wide differences in musical preference -- why is it that one man's Mozart is another man's Madonna?" (p. 11) After reading these 270 pages, I'm sure I can't ...
  • Sunny
    I have to admit that this took me a while to read because it got a bit too technical for me in the middle but the beginning and the ending were very very good. The book is about, as it says on the tin, the effect of music on the brain. The book gets quite scientific in places and reminded me of Doidge’s the brain that changes itself, which is a total must read. The book also looks at certain songs that have stood the test of time and explains w...
  • Nikki
    Despite loving singing, and having been good enough to perform and not have people run away, I know very little about music. Not that Levitin would be a snob about that, from the sound of this book, but it still forms a bit of a barrier to understanding when someone starts talking about semitones. I can sing C on demand, and I know when something is out of tune — what more do you want? (Although unlike most people, I have a bad sense of timing,...
  • Jessica
    People often ask me about how I can be a musician and into sign language. It occurs for them like there is a dichotomy at play. I've never experienced my work in either area to be at odds with the other.This week I'm reading the coolest book I've read in a while: This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin. He was once a musician and sound engineer, but now is a neuroscientist (another set of odd-bedfellow occupations). A Publishers Weekly r...
  • Andrew
    I was going to keep reading this book until the new year, but I've decided to stop. I would think the combined topics of music and science would interest me, but it didn't, at least not in the way this author tackled it. Being a musician and a music scholar myself, I disagree with some of his statements, many of which don't seem to be scientific and are based in opinion rather than fact. He asserts that most people can tell when two different ins...
  • Rosie
    So far it's off to a sort of dry start. I'm led to believe that it will get better when he starts getting into the subject matter a bit more, but the first chapter is basically a quick and dirty introduction to music theory, most of which I am already quite familiar with. I'll force myself to get into the second chapter and see how it goes from there.After finishing, I can say this book has a lot of information in it. Levitin explores the Cerebel...
  • Mikael Lind
    I'm not sure if I'm happy with having read this book, i.e. if the read was time well spent or not. The book is far too long for its content, and a bit hit-and-miss. I couldn't really relate to many of the bands that Levitin was referring to (Sting, Eagles), except for some fun facts about the Beatles. Also, some of his personal anecdotes are really boring and didn't help explaining the topic he was discussing.There's an annoying mind/brain dualis...
  • Andrew Ludke
    I read this after reading Oliver Sacks book "Musicophilia" and it is a great follow up. Did you know that what goes in the ear exists in the brain ... I mean really exists. If you hear a frequency of 440hz, an 'A' on the piano keyboard, there exists an electrical signal in your brain with a frequency of exactly 440Hz. Did you know that every natural tone rings a series of mathematically related tones called the overtone series. The relative volum...
  • Reenie
    My boyfriend will be very glad that I'm done with this book, since I kept on complaining all the way through as I read it.It definitely does have some interesting facts and ideas within it, so it's vaguely interesting, but more importantly, it's also profoundly irritating. At least for me. Partly due to some logical or factual errors or selective readings of data, and partly (or maybe mostly, come to think of it) due to something in the demeanour...
  • Rachel Hartman
    I really enjoyed it. A lot of the reviews seem to be complaining about the writing style and the author's tone, but honestly I don't remember much about either of those (it's been months since I read this book; I just happened to be thinking about it again today). What I remember most clearly was the ideas, and how it got me thinking about both music and the brain in new ways. I have a keen (if amateur) interest in brains, so approaching it from ...
  • Seth
    Levitin goes too far out of his way to make the book appeal to the layman. His tone isn't condescending, but he came across as an academic out of his element. Much of the research he cites is very fascinating. When it's all said and done though, I didn't walk away feeling like I had a much better grasp of what my brain is actually like on music. Levitin spends most of the book citing other research and did not assert his own opinions until the ve...
  • Robert Wechsler
    A dense, sometimes wandering, very rewarding book about how we experience music. It’s as much about our brains as about music, and Levitin is knowledgeable and interesting on both. Exemplary nonfiction.
  • Tarek Amer
    -When basic elements of sound combine in a meaningful way,it gives rise to music.-Most theories believe music has an evolutionary basis.In order to sing and dance well, you must be mentally and physically fit.It is so deep-rooted in us that it may have helped our pre-human ancestors learn to speak.-Processing music involves almost every region of the brain that we know of.-Appreciation of music is linked to the brain's ability to predict what wil...
  • Emily
    This was interesting, but not always the most enjoyable. If you have any basic understanding of neuroscience (I'm talking VERY basic understanding of neurons, the structure of the brain, etc.) and music (I'm talking third grade piano lessons), a lot of this books is tedious. Levitin clearly wants this book to be accessible to anyone, and while that's GREAT, it also means that a lot of groundwork needs to be laid down. Because of this, a lot of ti...
  • Loring Wirbel
    Two friends called this book the perfect companion to David Byrne's "How Music Works," and I heartily agree. Where Byrne covers issues of cultural cues and personal responses to music in a broad sense, Levitin dives deep into the neural processing that goes on in music interpretation, and the emotional cerebellar responses that come along for the ride. As a former recording engineer that went back to school to become a cognitive neuroscientist, L...