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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Is Your Brain On Music

Book #2 on my reading list was This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel Levitin.

I was going to call this one a Steven Pinker-like diatribe on music, but from the last chapter it appears Levitin has a good nerd fight going with Pinker who has called music 'auditory cheesecake' and merely a by-product of the brain's evolutionary adaptation to process language. Levitin takes issue with Pinker's assertion and delivers a compelling argument that there's more to the brain's processing of music than would be expected if it's merely a by-product. Levitin's book shows that either way there's plenty of interesting science to be studied. It's a compelling tour through the neuroscience, basic music theory, and (probably a little too much of) Levitin's own experiences studying it. Overall I thought it was a decent read, but I'm wishing I'd picked up Oliver Sacks' new one instead.

Website for the book
Salon review
Author page on Wikipedia