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This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

by

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession Cover

ISBN13: 9780452288522
ISBN10: 0452288525
Condition: Standard
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The information age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data. At the same time, we're expected to make more — and faster — decisions about our lives than ever before. No wonder, then, that the average American reports frequently losing car keys or reading glasses, missing appointments, and feeling worn out by the effort required just to keep up. But somehow some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. In The Organized Mind (Dutton Books), cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music, uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how those people excel — and how readers can use their methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and time.

See our full selection of signed editions from authors coming to Powell's

Staff Pick

A revelation for music buffs and science geeks — and all the better if you happen to be both. How do memory and music work together? What makes timbre? How do writers like Lennon and McCartney, or John Coltrane and Miles Davis, manipulate our expectations to create truly original compositions? Why do some melodies elicit consistent emotional responses across cultures, race, gender, and age? Before he became a neuroscientist, Daniel J. Levitin was a music producer and professional musician. This Is Your Brain on Music connects those two worlds, of music production and reception, with ear-opening results.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 becoming 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 pop culture to our understanding of human nature, including:
  • Are our musical preferences shaped in utero?
  • Is there a cutoff point for acquiring new tastes in music?
  • What do PET scans and MRIs reveal about the brain's response to music?
  • Is musical pleasure different from other kinds of pleasure?

This Is Your Brain on Music explores cultures in which singing is considered an essential human function, patients who have a rare disorder that prevents them from making sense of music, and scientists studying why two people may not have the same definition of pitch. At every turn, this provocative work unlocks deep secrets about how nature and nurture forge a uniquely human obsession.

Review:

"Think of a song that resonates deep down in your being. Now imagine sitting down with someone who was there when the song was recorded and can tell you how that series of sounds was committed to tape, and who can also explain why that particular combination of rhythms, timbres and pitches has lodged in your memory, making your pulse race and your heart swell every time you hear it. Remarkably, Levitin does all this and more, interrogating the basic nature of hearing and of music making (this is likely the only book whose jacket sports blurbs from both Oliver Sacks and Stevie Wonder), without losing an affectionate appreciation for the songs he's reducing to neural impulses. Levitin is the ideal guide to this material: he enjoyed a successful career as a rock musician and studio producer before turning to cognitive neuroscience, earning a Ph.D. and becoming a top researcher into how our brains interpret music. Though the book starts off a little dryly (the first chapter is a crash course in music theory), Levitin's snappy prose and relaxed style quickly win one over and will leave readers thinking about the contents of their iPods in an entirely new way." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Endlessly stimulating, a marvelous overview, and one which only a deeply musical neuroscientist could give. Daniel Levitin has a huge knowledge of music developed since the 1950s (and of blues, jazz, and etc. before this), and not merely a formal but a deep personal knowledge as an expert performer no less than as a listener. I liked the discussion of 'safe' and 'dangerous' music, and I very much liked the final chapter on the evolutionary origins of music. An important book." Oliver Sacks, M.D.

Review:

"[Levitin] argues...that music plays a role in evolution....[T]his book extends the appreciation of music as neural training." Library Journal

Review:

"Levitin makes the science of music readily understandable to the non-scientist and non-musician alike." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[Levitin's] book introduces the inner workings of the brain insofar as scientists understand it and affords a good first look at the subject for armchair psychologists and neuroscientists." Booklist

Review:

"Although Levitin's narrative grasp may be shaky, the arc of his transformation from musician to scientist grounds his thinking and guides his treatise to a satisfying conclusion." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Setting jargon aside in favor of everyday terminology, [Levitin] gives readers enough background to understand what to listen for in music and to connect what they hear to his science." Seattle Times

Review:

"Levitin makes a strong case....He also has a warm, modest and compassionate voice, and his little asides of music trivia and nerdy jokes are more like sprinkles of sugar than spoonfuls, but they help just the same." San Diego Union-Tribune

Synopsis:

Neuroscientist and professional musician Daniel Levitin presents a fascinating exploration of the relationship between music and the mind — and the role of melodies in shaping our lives. Photos throughout.

Synopsis:

What can music teach us about the brain? What can the brain teach us about music? And what can both teach us about ourselves?

 In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin (The World in Six Songs and The Organized Mind) explores the connection between music - its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it - and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

  • How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world
  • Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre
  • That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise
  • How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our head
Taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, This Is Your Brain on Music will attract readers of Oliver Sacks and David Byrne, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.

 

About the Author

Daniel J. Levitin runs the Levitin Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University, where he holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communications. Before becoming a neuroscientist, he was a record producer with gold records to his credit and professional musician. He has published extensively in scientific journals and music trade magazines such as Grammy and Billboard.

Table of Contents

This Is Your Brain On Music Introduction

I Love Music and I Love Science—Why Would I Want to Mix the Two?

1. What Is Music?

From Pitch to Timbre

2. Foot Tapping

Discerning Rhythm, Loudness, and Harmony

3. Behind the Curtain

Music and the Mind Machine

4. Anticipation

What We Expect from Liszt (and Ludacris)

5. You Know My Name, Look Up the Number

How We Categorize Music

6. After Dessert, Crick Was Still Four Seats Away from Me

Music, Emotion, and the Reptilian Brain

7. What Makes a Musician?

Expertise Dissected

8. My Favorite Things

Why Do We Like the Music We Like?

9. The Music Instinct

Evolution's #1 Hit

Appendices

Bibliographic Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

donnyandrose, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by donnyandrose)
Daniel Levitin's "This Is Your Brain On Music" is an endlessly fascinating excursion into the world of neurobiology and human emotion. Clearly intrigued himself by the brain's interaction with music, Levitin describes both music theory and neurobiology concepts with such direct simplicity that the reader moves effortlessly from one idea to the next. It's akin to watching a really excellent TED Talks video, or taking an English class from Heidi Marks.

Rarely have I enjoyed a piece of non-fiction so well. If you have any interest in neurobiology; if you find it strange and wonderful that humans have evolved an appreciation of music; if you've ever wondered how the brain relates musical sounds to language, emotion, memory, anticipation, movement; Levitin has forayed into these areas and brings his readers intriguing insights from his own studies and from other great thinkers of our day.

This book is brilliant and engaging, and very accessible. I highly recommend it to all fellow nerds.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780452288522
Author:
Levitin, Daniel J.
Publisher:
Plume Books
Author:
Levitin, Daniel J.
Subject:
Neuropsychology
Subject:
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Subject:
Acoustics & Sound
Subject:
Instruction & Study - Theory
Subject:
Music
Subject:
Psychological aspects
Subject:
Music -- Psychological aspects.
Subject:
Music-Theory and Composition
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20070931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w illustrations on pages 23, 98, and 2
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
7.96x5.56x.89 in. .64 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General History
Arts and Entertainment » Music » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruction and Study » Theory
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruction and Study » Theory and Composition
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Science of Music
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Mind and Consciousness
Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Acoustics

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Plume Books - English 9780452288522 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A revelation for music buffs and science geeks — and all the better if you happen to be both. How do memory and music work together? What makes timbre? How do writers like Lennon and McCartney, or John Coltrane and Miles Davis, manipulate our expectations to create truly original compositions? Why do some melodies elicit consistent emotional responses across cultures, race, gender, and age? Before he became a neuroscientist, Daniel J. Levitin was a music producer and professional musician. This Is Your Brain on Music connects those two worlds, of music production and reception, with ear-opening results.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Think of a song that resonates deep down in your being. Now imagine sitting down with someone who was there when the song was recorded and can tell you how that series of sounds was committed to tape, and who can also explain why that particular combination of rhythms, timbres and pitches has lodged in your memory, making your pulse race and your heart swell every time you hear it. Remarkably, Levitin does all this and more, interrogating the basic nature of hearing and of music making (this is likely the only book whose jacket sports blurbs from both Oliver Sacks and Stevie Wonder), without losing an affectionate appreciation for the songs he's reducing to neural impulses. Levitin is the ideal guide to this material: he enjoyed a successful career as a rock musician and studio producer before turning to cognitive neuroscience, earning a Ph.D. and becoming a top researcher into how our brains interpret music. Though the book starts off a little dryly (the first chapter is a crash course in music theory), Levitin's snappy prose and relaxed style quickly win one over and will leave readers thinking about the contents of their iPods in an entirely new way." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Endlessly stimulating, a marvelous overview, and one which only a deeply musical neuroscientist could give. Daniel Levitin has a huge knowledge of music developed since the 1950s (and of blues, jazz, and etc. before this), and not merely a formal but a deep personal knowledge as an expert performer no less than as a listener. I liked the discussion of 'safe' and 'dangerous' music, and I very much liked the final chapter on the evolutionary origins of music. An important book."
"Review" by , "[Levitin] argues...that music plays a role in evolution....[T]his book extends the appreciation of music as neural training."
"Review" by , "Levitin makes the science of music readily understandable to the non-scientist and non-musician alike."
"Review" by , "[Levitin's] book introduces the inner workings of the brain insofar as scientists understand it and affords a good first look at the subject for armchair psychologists and neuroscientists."
"Review" by , "Although Levitin's narrative grasp may be shaky, the arc of his transformation from musician to scientist grounds his thinking and guides his treatise to a satisfying conclusion."
"Review" by , "Setting jargon aside in favor of everyday terminology, [Levitin] gives readers enough background to understand what to listen for in music and to connect what they hear to his science."
"Review" by , "Levitin makes a strong case....He also has a warm, modest and compassionate voice, and his little asides of music trivia and nerdy jokes are more like sprinkles of sugar than spoonfuls, but they help just the same."
"Synopsis" by , Neuroscientist and professional musician Daniel Levitin presents a fascinating exploration of the relationship between music and the mind — and the role of melodies in shaping our lives. Photos throughout.
"Synopsis" by ,

What can music teach us about the brain? What can the brain teach us about music? And what can both teach us about ourselves?

 In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin (The World in Six Songs and The Organized Mind) explores the connection between music - its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it - and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

  • How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world
  • Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre
  • That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise
  • How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our head
Taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, This Is Your Brain on Music will attract readers of Oliver Sacks and David Byrne, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.

 

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