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Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brainby Oliver Sacks
Musicophilia is a fascinating look at music and its effects on our brains. Who but Oliver Sacks could make such a compulsively readable book?
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the 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.
"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.)
"Sacks portrays our innate propensity toward music as an overall plus — often therapeutic and occasionally a lifesaver." Los Angeles Times
"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
"Sacks' tales...work their way beyond passionate personal appreciation of music toward potential uses with neurological conditions." Seattle Times
"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
"Pleasantly rollicking, but with a definite hint that the grand old man is taking it easy." Kirkus Reviews
"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
"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)
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
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
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