- Save 10% on selected children’s books, compliments of Amazon Family Promotion exclusive for Prime members .
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain Hardcover – 16 Oct 2007
|New from||Used from|
|Hardcover, 16 Oct 2007||
Special offers and product promotions
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Fascinating. Music, as Sacks explains, “can pierce the heart directly”. And this is the truth that he so brilliantly focuses upon – that music saves, consoles and nourishes us. (Daily Mail)
An elegantly outlined series of case studies . . . which reveal the depth to which music grips so many people. (Observer) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
'Through anecdote, argument and science, Musicophilia makes a passionate case for music as a way to discover ourselves' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
In part, it is both these things - as a book of case studies it cannot help being the latter, as a book written by someone who is himself an amateur musician as well as being knowledgeable about and intrigued by the neuroscience behind our musical brain, it is necessarily the former. However, neither of these things, for me, detracts in any way from the book.
If you have an interest in both science and music and enjoy books that are absorbing, sometimes densely written, very informative, and written by someone with both a wide knowledge of the subject and a keen curiosity about the whys and wherefores then you will probably enjoy this book just as much as I have, which is a great deal.
Not all of the cases have explanations, which sometimes makes them more intriguing - other, apparently stranger, cases, turn out to have fairly logical reasons. Sacks explores everything from the healing power of music to its capability of irritating or even tormenting those whose brains cannot control it, and the whole thing is intensely interesting for a musician with any interest in the science behind music.
"Musicophilia" is preferable to "This is your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitin, which was released around the same time and deals with somewhat similar themes, though Levitin's book includes much more technical info on music and neurology. This info is presented in a style that is dry, unengaging and lacking in clarity. Sacks on the other hand is an effortlessly good writer. For that reason, this book is worth reading, though it would have benefitted from greater cohesion, a more focused approach and some general theorizing along with the case studies.
It tells you about people who hear music in their heads, people with perfect pitch who lose it and vice versa, people with tinnitus and so on. The trouble for me was that in the end it becomes just a big long list of notes on the patients Sachs has treated. I could have used a bit more context, or even philosophical speculation and wonder. But the author is a medical man so he confines himself pretty much to the facts. And he reams them out - the patient experienced this, the patient reacted like that....
Its fascinating material but in all honesty the book is not well written. It is more academic than I had expected. Of course some people will prefer that. I didn't.
Some of the snippets I read in reviews and magazine articles were quite intriguing, but when I got to the full book I found that many of them remained snippets - a footnote about a piece of shrapnel in Shostakovich's head is a good example. Its just a couple of sentences and you want to know more about it but you are left unfulfilled.
Maybe I had too high expectations of this book. I don't want to be too negative as its a perfectly OK book. Its just not anything like as interesting as it appears.
Music arising in the mind without prompting may seem a common enough occurence. The advertising industry has demonstated fully music as an uncontrollable meme. The cases Sacks portrays here are of another sort. In some cases the music has taken over - sometimes supplanting other thinking processes and reducing the victim to near helplessness. The chief problem is often a lack of variety. More than the adverts' jingles, particular tunes may emerge from the distant past to occupy the sufferer's waking hours. A well-disciplined mind, such as Doctor P's, may be able to use the uncalled for music in ways that get them through daily tasks. Others don't have that ability and the music proves a terrible distraction. The music renders them "incapable of hearing themselves think".
Therapy for such conditions is in its infancy and may actually be subverted by the deluge of music impinging our ears daily. Sacks notes the proliferation of the iPod devices bringing music to listeners who seem to pass the day in another realm. This, however, is not relieving a condition, but may be generating a new one. Some music therapy has been in use to overcome coordination disorders, but this is limited and selective in effectiveness. Even "classical" music, which is known to "draw the mind" into it is not innocent in causing disorders. One of the more captivating classical pieces, Ravel's "Bolero" may be both the product of "musicophilia" in an aging composer and the source of endless reptition in the mind of the listener. The tendency of the mind to retain music is demonstrated in those with advanced Alzheimer's, who lose other facilities but retain a sense for music. Is music thus something the brain holds on to as something reliable in an otherwise confusing world? Brain scans have demonstrated that professional musicians have certain areas of the brain larger than the rest of us, but as a path to therapy, this situation has offered little up to now.
The author's avoidance of simply presenting a string of clinical studies is a testament to his humanitarian approach to the various conditions he lists here. In a sense, this book is a catalog of distortions the mind may be subject to relating to music. In one case, a lightning strike turns an orthopaedic surgeon into a classical pianist. Another suffers massive brain damage, yet continues a relatively normal life so long as he can arrange things in musical forms. Others may respond positively to prompts of classical themes, while becoming emotionally distraught at modern forms. Listing the cases in such a way leaves the impression that one might as well be perusing a medical journal. In Sacks' hands, nothing could be further from the truth. He is passionate in his relating these conditions, his feelings permeating every page. A book well worth your time, whether you are intersted in music, the mind or how they combine in the minds of people you may know. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Medical & Healthcare Practitioners > Internal Medicine > Neurology & Clinical Neurophysiology
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Applied Psychology > Psychotherapy
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Cognition & Cognitive Psychology
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Neuropsychology
- Books > Music, Stage & Screen > Music
- Books > Science & Nature > Medicine > Medical Sciences A-Z > Neurology
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Psychology Textbooks