|This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
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In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin 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 heads
And, taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin argues that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. This Is Your Brain on Music is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.
- "A Little Knowledger is a Dangerous Thing"
Daniel J. Levitin is a hack. He is a living embodyment of the term used in the title of this review. There is no science here, only opinion and second hand knowledge that anyone with any amount of musical education already knows. He should read Debussey's essay "The Dilettante in Music"
and go re-invent himself. There is more to being an expert on any subject than being interviewed on CBC.
Gordon Boothe...more info
- Incredible insight ...
Daniel Levitin has written a very informative yet also very enjoyable book. It provides a nice, layman synopsis of modern research and insight on the interconnection of the human mind and music. A must read for any music lover. Definitely highly recommend....more info
- Very informative
I found the book interesting as well as informative. Very helpful to a fledgling musician!...more info
- 1/3 music theory, 1/3 neurobiology, and 1/3 rocumentary
This book is 1/3 music theory, 1/3 neurobiology, and 1/3 rocumentary. I enjoyed it, but can only give it 3 stars because of how thin the content was. There's a lot of fluff, which would annoy those of you on a schedule. On the plus side, the fluff makes most of the book an easy read.
This book presents itself as an analysis of how our brains process music. It does deliver, but only for 50 of the 300 pages. A lot of the book is meandering narrative about the author's former music career, or his new entry into a neurobiology career. He's not as interesting as he thinks he is.
The book contained a lot of compelling data, and I'm glad I read it. But I totally understand why some Amazonians gave it one single star.
The book does ramble a lot... it talks enough about music theory to whet your appetite for more, but then the author blabbed on about Joni Mitchell for a dozen pages. Then it discussed evolutionary neurobiology, with a long pit stop to learn about Paula Abdul and the Rolling Stones.
There's about 30-40 pages of really excellent information for those who know something about neurobiology or music theory. If you like rocumentaries, or can read fast, you'll love the book... otherwise you may find it a bit tedious....more info
- More research needed
As a musician I find this topic fascinating. The book does cover many interesting points and brings up ideas about how and why we react to music in the ways that we do. However, the authors errors in analyzing some of the music examples and forms throughout the book are flawed and drive someone like me nuts. If the author isn't an educated musician he should have spent more time with musicians researching some of the technical details of the music he examined. The book might try too hard to be all things to all people, and satisfies none. Too technical for the non-scientist, not technical enough for scientists, to musical for non-musicians, not deep enough for musicians. ...more info
- Probably more interesting if I had more music theory knowledge
I'm guessing that this book holds more interest to musicians than non-musicians. At least I'm hoping it does, since I gave it as a gift to a musician friend based on reading the cover jacket and 1st chapter.
I thought this book would be a more informative read that it turned out to be. As a non-musician, I hoped for more "everyman" insights, but mostly I just stumbled through the book. While I learned a few things, I didn't completely understand many of the concepts and examples presented. ...more info
- Just Say "Yes" to This is Your Brain On Music
Daniel J. Levitin's "This Is Your Brain on Music" is a book that combines an interest in music with an interest in the brain, the mind, and how they work together. It wasn't written with his scientific colleagues in mind, nor was it written for musicians with advanced concepts of harmony, but anyone with an interest in music and the mind can benefit. He kind of renders unto Caesar what is Caesar's as it were, but I imagine his fellow scientists would think he had oversimplified some of the science, just as I did with the rudimentary musical explanations.
I kind of skimmed over parts that explained things I already knew about chords, scales and keys. But he did a pretty good job. I think you can't really explain music like that with just words, but if you explore harmony with a piano or guitar, and then read about the theory, you will start to see how certain chords almost have gravitational fields that pull them towards resolutions with other chords. At one point, in the appendix, Levitin prints the chords to I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin, but for an AABA form song, he only prints the chords to the first two A parts, and leaves out the B section, which is what really made the song such a perennial favorite of jammers. Also, he transposes them to the key of C, while "Rhythm" is more often played in Bb. For the musician who wants to understand music theory I recommend The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine or The Jazz Piano Book, also by Mark Levine.
But TIYBOM is THE book to read if you want to take a layman's tour of the latest scientific theories about how the brain and mind function in performing or listening to music. He describes fascinating experiments with EEG, electroencephalogram, which monitors the electrical activity triggered by musical, or other, thoughts. To further refine the process, they use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI, which not only monitors the electrical activity, but can pinpoint the exact location by tracking oxygenated hemoglobin which flow into the regions where the synapses are firing. Though Levitin was biased against mapping the brain for its own sake, the mapping did provide insight into how musical thoughts were processed. For instance, the hippocampus, not a college for hippopotami, but rather a part of the brain, seems to be involved in musical memories, experiences and context. The left and right hemispheres have different functions, but how this differs in left and right handed individuals is still being studied. The cerebellum, the most primitive part of the brain, one that is present in reptiles, also seems to have a role in rhythm, rhythmic motor functions, such as walking, and emotions. Perhaps emotions are triggered by music, completely bypassing the later more evolved portions of the brain, and going straight to the cerebellum. Like the snake charmer with a basket of cobras, except that cobras are deaf and it is a trick, involving kicking the basket, and then swaying to distract the snakes.
There are lots of interesting stories about patients with various brain trauma, lesions, and injuries, which had interesting effects on how they perceived music. For instance, one case had someone who suffered from hypermnesia, which was the opposite of amnesia, and instead of forgetting, he remembered everything. If he looked at a person, he remembered every image of their face, but he had trouble knowing that they were all the same person. He couldn't sort out the connections. Another case was a man with Williams Syndrome, a chromosome deficiency similar to Down Syndrome, but a quarter as rare. This individual was severely retarded, and he had trouble even tying his shoes. Yet, he was able to play the clarinet, and remembered several complicated pieces by heart. If, however, he made a mistake, he would ask if he could do it again, but he would have to go back to the very beginning of the piece.
Another section of the book deals with the phenomenon of Absolute Pitch, or AP. People with this can hear a note and instantly tell what pitch it is. Willie Nelson has this, and in his autobiography he describes how he can even tell what pitch the buzz of a fly is, which he claims to be F. A friend of mine who had AP once heard a blimp overhead, and claimed the motor was humming in E. He struck the chord on the guitar, and I was surprised to find that he was right. Levitin himself does experiments on average people, and he finds that they will most often sing a familiar song in the right key and close to the tempo, so somehow average people can remember pitches, but they don't seem to be able to just name the pitches like people with AP. Also, those with AP seem to have an enlarged area of the brain that might account for this ability.
And did you know that the Germans actually have a word for the tunes or snippets of catchy jingles that can get stuck in your mind and play over and over? They call them ohrwurms, or Ear Worms. Perhaps this condition is similar to obsessive compulsive disorder. I find that if you get one, it helps to think of Ravel's Bolero, because it is a stronger ohrwurm and will slay the other one. Like the theme to the "I Love Lucy" show. Have you ever had that stuck in your head? At least Bolero changes timbre, with the motif being orchestrated differently, as it builds and builds in intensity. Did you know that William Burroughs has the boys in his novel The Wild Boys use them as weapons, making up "idiot songs" that would get stuck in their enemies minds and drive them insane. And I thought he was prophesizing about Hip Hop.
Daniel Levitin has a lot of interesting takes on music and science, and he sometimes describes his scientific experiences in terms of his musical ones. For instance, he is invited to a seminar at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and he feels like a girl backstage at an Elvis concert. One of the chapters is titled "After Dessert, Crick was still Four Seats Away" and in it he wants to meet Francis Crick, who along with James Watson was the scientist who mapped the structure of DNA. He frets that it will turn out like an earlier meeting when he was invited to a tea party at the Automat recording studio, and wanted to meet, and possibly work with Ron Nevison, an engineer who had worked on recording sessions with Led Zeppelin and The Who. He breached protocol, introduced himself, and never heard from Nevison again. But luckily this time a sympathetic colleague introduced him to Crick, who perks up at the mention of music, and they have a great chat, but they never meet again as Crick dies a month later.
He had wanted to meet him not because of his work on DNA, or even because of his recent work entitled The Astonishing Hypothesis, but rather because of an autobiographical book he had written called What Mad Pursuit. Francis Crick wrote that because he started so late, he was able to approach science with an open mind, and he hadn't invested countless hours in a particular discipline or hypothesis that might have blinded him to alternate views. This particular passage inspired Levitin because he, too, had come to science late in life.
Inspiration takes many forms, and some of the other scientists propose theories that Levitin disagrees with. For instance, Steven Pinker, who had just completed a major work of cognitive science called How The Mind Works, thought that music was completely useless, and that it had developed solely by piggy backing on the language function. He described music as mental cheesecake. Levitin obviously disagrees with this opinion, and makes a compelling case for music being an integral part of who we are as humans, something that exists in all cultures, and has for as long as time is remembered. Another work he doesn't agree with is The Mozart Effect, which proposes that music can make you smarter. While he agrees that music could make you smarter, he turns the idea around, and for instance, asks if educators and parents would be so anxious to push math on kids because it was discovered that it would make them better musicians? He thinks music is worthwhile for itself alone. He also thinks the experiments were poorly designed.
From his contacts with the musical world, there is an interesting encounter with Joni Mitchell, who likes to use alternate tunings in her music. She told Levitin that she never found a bass player who could support what she was doing until she played with Jaco Pastorius. The bass prodigy who played with Weather Report and was later killed by a bouncer had an obnoxious personality, but she put up with him because he understood her music, and contributed just what she wanted. With her alternate tunings, the songs were built on unconventional chord structures, and also incorporated pedal notes, open strings that would drone throughout a piece. Bass players kept asking her what chords she was playing; wanting to know what was the root. She didn't really know the root, but more important, she wanted the harmonies to be a little ambiguous, without them having a specific root.
It is personal anecdotes like this one that made This Is Your Brain on Music such an fascinating read, and if ever I am at a scientific conference, I hope someone will have the good grace to introduce us, observing proper protocol, of course.
Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul Francis Crick wrote this.
What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery (Sloan Foundation Science) Francis Crick wrote this, too, and it inspired Daniel J. Levitin in his scientific pursuits.
The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead (Burroughs, William S.)
The Jazz Theory Book, or The Jazz Piano Book, also by Mark Levine.
Shadows and Light Joni Mitchell live with Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius, who Joni felt was the first bassist to "get" her.
The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit Daniel J. Levitin has a bone to pick with The Mozart Effect, but it is interesting if taken with a grain of salt.
Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within Kenny Werner has excellent advice on how to get to Carnegie Hall. Yes, it takes practice, but it is effortless.
Fantasia (Special 60th Anniversary Edition) This Disney animation has a segment devoted to Beethoven's 6th Symphony, the Pastoral. It is mentioned as one of Daniel J. Levitin's favorite pieces of music.
Psycho: The Complete Original Motion Picture Score
The Older Stuff: Best of Michael Nesmith (1970-1973) Joanne by Michael Nesmith is listed as one of Daniel J. Levitin's favorite songs. It is the opening track of this "Best of" from the former member of The Monkees. He was the one who always wore a wool cap.
- The X Factor
Well written and informative, but Mr. Levitin is apparently unable to recognize the X factor that is the indescribable, innate quality of an artist that cannot be taught; that does not need years of training to release--and is the reason why some highly trained people are brilliant technicians, but not artists. This inability marred his conclusions and misdirected his studies/experiments. As a musician, it is also my opinion that Mr. Levitin has no idea what "groove" is. Again, being a player, does not make one an artist. Also, I would have appreciated a diagram to illustrate the areas of the brain discussed. This is fast read with a few nuggets to enhance ones understanding of how the brain works, but fortunately for the author, there's more work to be done. ...more info
- High on small stories, short on science
Interesting topic, and I had high expectations. Maybe that is part of the reason I was a little disappointed. The book reads well, and there are many small digressions and personal stories I really enjoyed. However, I felt I learned rather less than I expected on the real subject of the book. The best popular science books convey cutting edge science and teach you something new. Not so much of that here I am afraid....more info
- you will learn a lot if you pay attention
I'm very surprised by how many negative reviews this book is getting. I just finished it, and I love it.
Are you considering reading it? Then, do!
I think the problem many people have is essentially that the book isn't written only for them. In other words, let's say you don't give a fig about jazz--say you couldn't tell the Bird from Benny Goodman. That's no problem: every time he uses an example from jazz to illustrate a point, he uses a famous rock example as well. If you don't get the jazz one, you'll probably get the Rolling Stones reference. I would think everyone could live with that.
Or, let's say you are not at all interested in knowing why Joni Mitchell prefers a certain bass player. You only want to read about the neurology. Or vice-versa: all that neurology stuff is boring; you want to know more about what Neil Young thinks about music.
Unfortunately, there's a little of everything in here. Good solid multi-disciplinary science (neurology, genetics, evolutionary biology); a nice thorough introduction to music theory (explaining terms like pitch, octave, scale, dissonance, beat, timbre); anecdotes from his personal musical experience (what Joni Mitchell told him about her favorite bass player, why he didn't get to take guitar lessons when he was a kid).
UN - fortunately?
Well, I loved this book. I learned a lot about music (in general, as well as specific genres), a little about neurology and evolution, a little about various musicians. I couldn't have been more pleased.
The only reason I can find that anyone didn't enjoy the book is that they didn't want to read about all that other stuff (whatever was not the thing they did want to read about). If you can overlook that, of if you look forward to all of it, I guarantee this book will prove an entertaining, enlightening experience.
The one caveat I have is that, if you really do not know anything about music, pay good attention in the opening chapters when he introduces concepts like chord and scale. Or, be prepared to go back and reference those chapters. I do not see how a detailed book about music could avoid this situation (he cannot talk about music without talking about rythyms, melodies and harmonies). But he does a very good job of introducing and explaining them.
So, enjoy! ...more info
- Nonmusicians beware
As a nonmusician, it was kind of hard to follow. It almost felt as if it was a textbook and I needed to take notes. However, after reading it I felt a lot more educated on the subject of the brain. Mr. Levitin did a great job in trying to clearly and easily explain everything....more info
- This is your Brain on Music
This was a gift. The person who received thought it would be good reading....more info
I absolutely love this book. It discusses all the parts of music that I have ever wondered about (being a musician myself.) I enjoyed this book so much because it's easy to read but also extremely engaging. David Levitin is so brilliant and intuitive. It's like having someone type out my exact thoughts and put them in a book....more info
- Plenty of detail
The most striking feature of this book for me is that it blurs the line between music as an aesthetic experience & the study of the brain as a scientific exercise.
So while it does a great job of defining the various parameters we appreciate music by ( notes, pitch, timbre, meter etc), it also delves into the way memory is organized in the brain, how musical appreciation is connected to our emotions, what makes a great anything (10, 000 hours of practice, apparently) etc.
The chapter on memory is tiresome & is far too academic for general readership. The initial chapters on musical parameters is very helpful to somebody with no training on music. The connections to emotions, & the music we like are very interesting reads.
Overall, a more than moderately good book without being exceptional because of the insufficient sieving out of unnecessary detail. ...more info
- Extended Wikipedia article meets self-serving autobiography
I'm a musician who's been thinking about reading this book since seeing it favorably reviewed. I read it after receiving it as a gift this Christmas, and unfortunately found it to read like an extended Wikipedia entry. Opinions and speculation are stated as facts, claims are not justified with evidence, the author frequently oversteps his expertise, and the writing is otherwise amateurish, lacking direction and leaving loose ends. It seems as though the author wrote it off the top of his head without researching his points or his examples, and a number of statements are false. Other reviewers have listed their pet gripes (some of which have been fixed in the paperback copy), here are a few of mine that haven't been mentioned (and that still exist in the paperback):
-The detailed discussion of the Haydn's Surprise Symphony theme (p92-93) is flawed at every turn: He uses the term parallelism (a term reserved for describing a particular harmonic device) incorrectly to refer to the melody. He describes the melody as going up "just a little" when what we have at that point is the *largest interval leap* anywhere in the theme. Then, "the highest note we've encountered so far" in the melody is incorrectly identified as the fifth. We have already (just two notes ago) heard the C above the G he is referring to. (The highest note is the tonic, not the fifth). Finally, the "surprise" in the Surprise symphony, is identified in the wrong place--eight measures too soon. Why so much detail about something the author hasn't researched? Not only that, but the misunderstandings lead him to bad analysis.
-In one of the book's stupidest sentences, the author claims that "A schema for Dixieland includes foot-tapping, up-tempo music, and unless the band was trying to be ironic, we would not expect there to be overlap between their repertoire and that of a funeral procession" (p117). Dixieland bands playing funeral processions is, of course, an important and well-known New Orleans tradition.
-Beethoven's Ode to Joy theme from his 9th symphony is used as an example of violating expectations (p 119). He describes that we expect the first phrase to end on "do" and we are surprised to hear it end on "re." In the second phrase we are surprised to hear it end on "do" after hearing the first phrase end on "re." Most musicians would disagree with this analysis. This phrase structure is so common, in fact, that there are terms for paired phrases such as this. (The first phrase, typically ending on a member of the dominant chord as happens here, is called the antecedent. The second phrase ending on the tonic is called the consequent. Together the pairing is called a period, or informally a call-and-response.) What is described here as Beethoven's clever violation of expectation is a very good example of the very most common phrase structure in all of music.
-Later, in describing how jazz musicians play over AABA song form (p238-239), Dr. Levitin explains that the "B" section is the "chorus." I think you'll find that by far the most common term for the B section is the *bridge,* the term "chorus" being reserved for one entire iteration of the form. He goes on to describe this as a point of confusion, but it's not if you use the usual terms. Confused himself, he also says "Some songs have a C section, called the bridge." One of his own examples, "All of Me" is ABAC. However, most musicians would say that this song has no bridge, and certainly the C section of "All of Me" cannot be considered the bridge.
I don't have the time or the space for a line-by-line critique of the entire book, but suffice it to say that my examples are not cherry-picked (rather the positive aspects in some reviews seem to be cherry picked, and some of the positive reviews are not so positive). The writing throughout the book is imprecise, inaccurate, misleading, and interspersed with nonsense. The anecdotes make up a conspicuously large portion of the book, and are conspicuously self-serving (dropping the names of rock stars and famous scientists). He has an entire chapter on meeting Crick (of the DNA-discovering pair Watson and Crick). According to the author's account, he was nervous, and had a past memory that kept him from introducing himself. What a relief to find that after finally meeting, Crick enjoyed his company and found his research fascinating! ("Crick's eyes lit up. He sat up straight in his chair. 'Music,' he said. He brushed away his lepton colleague.") On reflection, the topic of music and the brain seems less the main point of the book, and more a jumping off point for a superficial, glowing autobiography. I was disappointed....more info
- i am not a musician
and apparently this book is aimed at me, a member of the general public who, the author asserts, is an expert at listening to music, if not a musician. well, i am a biologist, so the neuroscience isn't new to me, and i have to say that i was hoping for deeper insights. in a nutshell, this would be a good book to browse at the library rather than to buy.
though perhaps to non-scientists the book is more interesting. i actually bought it for my boyfriend who, like the author, spent his adolescent years jamming (while i was reading). according to him, the author is trying a bit too hard to show off his music-cool, and he while the book is interesting, tales of adventure of wildlife biologists like alan rabinowitz are much more so . so, we'll stick with the three stars = browse before you buy....more info
- Fantastic Book!
This book does an amazing job of introducing the reader to how the brain works, how it develops in the human, and how it responds to various stimuli including music. Combined with the works of Damasio and Leonard Meyer (U of Chicago), the book immerses the reader in a wonderful sea of information and opens new areas to explore.
I can't recommend the book highly enough....more info
- Interesting topic... but that's about it
Boring... The author takes a very interesting topic and simply fails to keep it interesting. The book is highly theoretical with very little concrete fact, offering little substance for the reader....more info
- Not quite what was expected
I became very interested in Levitin's research after reading an article in Rolling Stone. That a plug for the book appeared in that particular magazine should have clued me in to its nature.
In any case, the book IS a decent primer for those without formal musical background... However, as a work discussing the neuroscience of music, it's definitely tedious and rambling. Nearly the first half of the work concerns itself with introducing those not familiar with music to basic structural concepts, as well as his own mini-autobiography. All of this would be fine, but this leaves only about 125 pages for the discussion of brain functions. Of the 320 pages, about 70 are Appendices and End Notes, 125 are Music Theory 101/Levitin's Name-Dropping 101, and 125 for the actual science. That's only 40% of the book dealing with the neuroscience of music. There are better works out there covering the same material....more info
Book was purchased as a gift (a teacher) and they tell me it is most interesting. Thye plan tobuy several copies to give to students to understand the rythym of music....more info
- Triviality masquerading as science
Think about earworms, you know, those tunes that you can't stop playing back in your head.
Now we'll play a little game. We'll take some ordinary English sentences but dress them up in smartypants neuroscience language. So instead of saying "in your head" you say "in your brain". And instead of saying "idea" you say "neural pathways representing a concept". You can probably make up your own rules for converting English to Neurospeak. "I have a headache" might become "a neural excitiation in my brain is causing the my pain sensors to represent pain in my cerebral area" or "I remember that book" might become "signals from my optic nerve are analysed and compared with prior stored representations of books until a match is found" and so on. Anyone can play, it's easy.
Dan Levitin knows how to play. Here's what he has to say on earworms: "Our best explanation is that the neural circuits representing a song get stuck in `playback mode'". Cute eh? But here's the weird thing. He doesn't realise this is just a game you can play with language. He thinks these are actually scientific explanations. In fact he spends 300 pages writing trivial things about music in Neurospeak, presenting it as science. It's like Moliere's joke about explaining how opium works by saying it has "soporific virtue".
It's not completely content-free however. For example he has a quote from Newton pointing out that you can't see the colour of light waves, rather that light waves are what you use to see things in colour. Bizarrely Newton made no such claim because he believed light was made of particles, not waves. The point still stands, but how did a completely fictional quote like that get through? Is it acceptable to make up quotes from scientists to make your point?
At one point Levitin tells us all about the mistake of Cartesianism - the idea that the things we sense in the world are just encoded in a new representation that some inner self can view, as if the external world is presented on an inner screen in our brains. That, of course, leads to an infinite regress. Who watches the inner screen? This is all well and good, but throughout the book Levitin describes a model of the brain that is 100% Cartesian. For example, he says that when we hear a sound, the end of the journey is a mental image of that sound. He seems to have missed the point that the philosphers he quotes, Wittgenstein and Dennett, devoted much of their lives to demolishing such a silly picture.
I did find the discussion of the roots of Joni Mitchell's chords quite interesting however, not that I like Joni Mitchell. But that saves the book from one star.
Oh, and Levitin does know a lot of famous people, if you're impressed by that sort of thing....more info
- Revised Title: Daniel J. Levitin's Brain on Music
There is enough self-indulgent auto-biographical dribble in this book to ruin whatever interest the reader might have had for brain science. If you want to learn about how the mind works there are many excellent popular brain science books, stay away from this book. If you want to learn about the musical tastes of Daniel J. Levitin and how important his friends are, this is the book for you. Barely tolerable....more info
- Science for the rest of us
Well written science about our brains and music that we can understand. Levitin uses humor and what we know to explain our obsession with music....more info
- Great Book
This is a great book. I play Tabla and this book just further enhances my practice....more info
- An Extraordinary Tour Through The Neuroscience of Music
Daniel Levitin, professional musician and sound engineer turned neuroscientist, is uniquely equipped to write this fascinating, entertaining, enlightening exploration of the human mind and the human-created experience that is music. This is a must-read, must-have for every music student, music teacher, and composer, and a wonderfully readable guided tour through the creative and neurological workings of the human mind. Levitin's love for music illuminates each page, and he effortlessly interweaves brain-scan findings with a line-by-line lyrical breakdown that explains exactly why 'JailHouse Rock" rocks. His diagrams and explanations of which different areas of the brain are engaged by specific musical instruments are worth the price alone. The perfect gift book, no prior musical education required. Levitin is a wonderfully engaging and consciousness-expanding writer; start even a quick skim and you'll find yourself drawn along, ultimately experiencing music in a whole new way. For educators considering this book for students, I'll say Levitin has created a rare achievement: a well documented, thoroughly footnoted and seminal text which is such a great read it's almost impossible to put down....more info