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The World in Six Songsby Daniel J Levitin
Synopses & Reviews
The author of the New York Times bestseller (six weeks and counting) and Los Angeles Times Book Award Nominee This Is Your Brain on Music (more than 170,000 copies in print), tunes us in to six evolutionary musical forms that provide a window into the human soul.
An unprecedented blend of science and art, Daniel Levitin's debut, This Is Your Brain on Music, delighted readers with an exuberant guide to the neural impulses behind those songs that make our heart swell. Now he showcases his daring theory of six songs, a illuminating how the brain evolved to play and listen to music in six fundamental forms for knowledge, friendship, ceremony, joy, comfort, and love. Preserving the emotional history of our lives and of our species, from its very beginning music was also allied to dance, as the structure of the brain confirms; developing this neurological observation, Levitin shows how music and dance enabled the social bonding and friendship necessary for human culture and society to evolve.
Blending cutting-edge scientific findings with his own sometimes hilarious experiences as a musician and music-industry professional, Levitin's sweeping study also incorporates wisdom gleaned from interviews with icons ranging from Sting and Paul Simon to Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, and David Byrne, along with classical musicians and conductors, historians, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. The result is a brilliant revelation of the prehistoric yet elegant systems at play when we sing and dance at a wedding or cheer at a concert or tune out quietly with an iPod.
"Charles Darwin meets the Beatles in this attempt to blend neuroscience and evolutionary biology to explain why music is such a powerful force. In this rewarding though often repetitious study by bestselling author Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music), a rock musician turned neuroscientist, argues that music is a core element of human identity, paving the way for language, cooperative work projects and the recording of our lives and history. Through his studies, Levitin has identified six kinds of songs that help us achieve these goals: songs of friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion and love. He cites lyrics ranging from the songs of Johnny Cash to work songs, which, he says, promote feelings of togetherness. According to Levitin, evolution may have selected individuals who were able to use nonviolent means like dance and music to settle disputes. Songs also serve as 'memory-aids,' as records of our lives and legends. Some may find Levitin's evolutionary explanations reductionist, but he lightens the science with personal anecdotes and chats with Sting and others, offering an intriguing explanation for the power of music in our lives as individuals and as a society." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Music is not simply a distraction or pastime, contends Levitin (Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise; McGill U., Montreal), but a core element of human identity as a species, and an activity that paved the way for more complex behavior such as language, large-scale cooperative undertakings, and the passing of information down the generations. He surveys the evolution of music and brains over tens of thousands of years and across the six inhabited continents. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The author of the New York Times bestseller and Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist This Is Your Brain on Music tunes us in to six evolutionary musical forms that brought about the evolution of human culture.
An unprecedented blend of science and art, Daniel Levitin's debut, This Is Your Brain on Music, was an extraordinary success. Now in what is being called a tour de force by his peers, he showcases his audacious theory of "six songs," illuminating how the brain evolved to play and listen to music in six fundamental formsfor friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion, and love.
Blending cutting-edge scientific findings with his own sometimes hilarious experiences as a musician and music-industry professional, Levitin's sweeping study also incorporates wisdom gleaned from interviews with icons ranging from Sting and Paul Simon to Joni Mitchell and David Byrne, along with classical musicians, poets, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists.
These six songs enlighten human nature in a way you will never forget.
About the Author
Daniel J. Levitin runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University. Before becoming a research scientist, he was a record producer and professional musician. As a producer, he has a number of gold records to his credit, and has worked on albums by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Midnight Oil, and kd lang. He has played professionally with Mel Torme, Blue Oyster Cult, and David Byrne, and has published extensively in scientific journals such as Science and Neuron and audio trade journals such as Grammy, Billboard, and Audio.
Table of Contents
The World in Six Songs Chapter 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.
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