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Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

by

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain Cover

 

Staff Pick

Musicophilia is a fascinating look at music and its effects on our brains. Who but Oliver Sacks could make such a compulsively readable book?
Recommended by Beth, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does — humans are a musical species.

Oliver Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people — from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds — for everything but music.

Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson's disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer's or amnesia.

Music is irresistible, haunting, andunforgettable, and in Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks tells us why.

Review:

"Sacks is an unparalleled chronicler of modern medicine, and fans of his work will find much to enjoy when he turns his prodigious talent for observation to music and its relationship to the brain. The subtitle aptly frames the book as a series of medical case studies — some in-depth, some abruptly short. The tales themselves range from the relatively mundane (a song that gets stuck on a continuing loop in one's mind) through the uncommon (Tourette's or Parkinson's patients whose symptoms are calmed by particular kinds of music) to the outright startling (a man struck by lightning subsequently developed a newfound passion and talent for the concert piano). In this latest collection, Sacks introduces new and fascinating characters, while also touching on the role of music in some of his classic cases (the man who mistook his wife for a hat makes a brief appearance). Though at times the narrative meanders, drawing connections through juxtaposition while leaving broader theories to be inferred by the reader, the result is greater than the sum of its parts. This book leaves one a little more attuned to the remarkable complexity of human beings, and a bit more conscious of the role of music in our lives." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Sacks portrays our innate propensity toward music as an overall plus — often therapeutic and occasionally a lifesaver." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Sacks is not in the business of answers carved in stone....His ultimate gift to readers is a sustained sense of wonder at the enormous variability of individual human experience." Oregonian

Review:

"Sacks' tales...work their way beyond passionate personal appreciation of music toward potential uses with neurological conditions." Seattle Times

Review:

"Sacks is less interested in providing answers here than he is in creating awareness. While the stories Sacks relates are not as fantastical and colorful as in previous books, they are just as compelling." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"Pleasantly rollicking, but with a definite hint that the grand old man is taking it easy." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Neurologist Sacks...charmingly argues that music is essential to being human in ways that have only begun to be understood....His customary erudition and fellow-feeling ensure that, no matter how clinical the discussion becomes, it remains, like the music of Mozart, accessible and congenial." Booklist

Review:

"A gifted writer and a neurologist, Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up." Newsweek

Book News Annotation:

Sacks's own enthusiasm about the complex workings of the human mind (he teaches clinical neurology and psychiatry at Columbia U.) becomes infectious in his writings. In this volume, he turns his attention to the many phenomena concerning music and the brain, relating the scientific explanations alongside numerous and compelling case studies. Sacks describes the effects of music--and different aspects of music--on ordinary individuals, musicians, and people who have had accidents or disabilities, in chapters on music and memory, musical hallucinations, music therapy, and perfect pitch, among other topics. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains. Here, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people.

About the Author

Oliver Sacks is a physician and the author of nine previous books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film). He lives in New York City, where he is Professor of Clinical Neurology at Columbia University.

Table of Contents

Preface

Part I: Haunted by Music

1. A Bolt from the Blue: Sudden Musicophilia

2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures

3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy

4. Music on the Brain: Imagery and Imagination

5. Brainworms, Sticky Music, and Catchy Tunes

6. Musical Hallucinations

Part II: A Range of Musicality

7. Sense and Sensibility: A Range of Musicality

8. Things Fall Apart: Amusia and Dysharmonia

9. Papa Blows His Nose in G: Absolute Pitch

10. Pitch Imperfect: Cochlear Amusia

11. In Living Stereo: Why We Have Two Ears

12. Two Thousand Operas: Musical Savants

13. An Auditory World: Music and Blindness

14. The Key of Clear Green: Synesthesia and Music

Part III: Memory, Movement, and Music

15. In the Moment: Music and Amnesia

16. Speech and Song: Aphasia and Music Therapy

17. Accidental Davening: Dyskinesia and Cantillation

18. Come Together: Music and Tourettes Syndrome

19. Keeping Time: Rhythm and Movement

20. Kinetic Melody: Parkinsons Disease and Music Therapy

21. Phantom Fingers: The Case of the One-Armed Pianist

22. Athletes of the Small Muscles: Musicians Dystonia

Part IV: Emotion, Identity, and Music

23. Awake and Asleep: Musical Dreams

24. Seduction and Indifference

25. Lamentations: Music and Depression

26. The Case of Harry S.: Music and Emotion

27. Irrepressible: Music and the Temporal Lobes

28. A Hypermusical Species: Williams Syndrome

29. Music and Identity: Dementia and Music Therapy

Acknowledgments

Bibliography

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 10 comments:

Lindsay Waite, December 8, 2013 (view all comments by Lindsay Waite)
I am always intrigued by music and how it originates in people. Musicians like Mozart seemed to have a muse feeding them notes, chord patterns, melodies, and beauty. I read this book also to see what parts of the brain are involved in the creation of music. It is interesting - filled with anecdotes on prodigies, how people with certain ailments (like Parkinson's) are helped with music, the result of brain injuries with respect to musical skills, and so forth. I'm not sure I came away with anything to answer my query other than some knowledge of the parts of the brain involved, but nevertheless it's a book that was worthy of my time.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
John Zimmerman, February 8, 2009 (view all comments by John Zimmerman)
MUSICOPHILIA contains 29 chapters. Each chapter is independent. Each chapter describes a series of people with a brain dysfunction that manifests itself in a change in musical ability (ies) or musical appreciation. Some of these patients were professional musicians who suffered a stroke, or an accident; He has collected data on patients in similar situations from a number of other Dr.s, and has researched medical literature back to the late 19th century. In most cases, the particular dysfunction may be traceable to a specified area in the brain, and he tries to trace it. His fascinating chapter on Absolute Pitch even notes that “Absolute Pitch can shift with age” and that this can be a problem for older musicians. My sister & I both experienced such a shift sometime in our fifties!


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(11 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
Syracuse56, November 9, 2008 (view all comments by Syracuse56)
Oliver Sacks theory on the power of music for people suffering with dementia has inspired me to create a music therapy program at an senior assisted living residence.
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(13 of 25 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 10 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400040810
Subtitle:
Tales of Music and the Brain
Author:
Sacks, Oliver
Author:
Sacks, Oliver W.
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Creative Ability
Subject:
Art & Music Therapy
Subject:
Music
Subject:
Psychological aspects
Subject:
Neurology - General
Subject:
Music -- Psychological aspects.
Subject:
Music -- Physiological aspects.
Subject:
Psychology : General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20071016
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 ILLUSTRATION
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.53x5.83x1.23 in. 1.30 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruction and Study » Music Appreciation
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Psychology of Music
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Essays
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Mind and Consciousness
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Neurobiology
Science and Mathematics » Featured Titles in Tech » General

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9781400040810 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Musicophilia is a fascinating look at music and its effects on our brains. Who but Oliver Sacks could make such a compulsively readable book?

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Sacks is an unparalleled chronicler of modern medicine, and fans of his work will find much to enjoy when he turns his prodigious talent for observation to music and its relationship to the brain. The subtitle aptly frames the book as a series of medical case studies — some in-depth, some abruptly short. The tales themselves range from the relatively mundane (a song that gets stuck on a continuing loop in one's mind) through the uncommon (Tourette's or Parkinson's patients whose symptoms are calmed by particular kinds of music) to the outright startling (a man struck by lightning subsequently developed a newfound passion and talent for the concert piano). In this latest collection, Sacks introduces new and fascinating characters, while also touching on the role of music in some of his classic cases (the man who mistook his wife for a hat makes a brief appearance). Though at times the narrative meanders, drawing connections through juxtaposition while leaving broader theories to be inferred by the reader, the result is greater than the sum of its parts. This book leaves one a little more attuned to the remarkable complexity of human beings, and a bit more conscious of the role of music in our lives." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Sacks portrays our innate propensity toward music as an overall plus — often therapeutic and occasionally a lifesaver."
"Review" by , "Sacks is not in the business of answers carved in stone....His ultimate gift to readers is a sustained sense of wonder at the enormous variability of individual human experience."
"Review" by , "Sacks' tales...work their way beyond passionate personal appreciation of music toward potential uses with neurological conditions."
"Review" by , "Sacks is less interested in providing answers here than he is in creating awareness. While the stories Sacks relates are not as fantastical and colorful as in previous books, they are just as compelling."
"Review" by , "Pleasantly rollicking, but with a definite hint that the grand old man is taking it easy."
"Review" by , "Neurologist Sacks...charmingly argues that music is essential to being human in ways that have only begun to be understood....His customary erudition and fellow-feeling ensure that, no matter how clinical the discussion becomes, it remains, like the music of Mozart, accessible and congenial."
"Review" by , "A gifted writer and a neurologist, Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up."
"Synopsis" by , Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains. Here, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people.
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