Daniel J. Levitin, 2008, 354 pages
Could music unlock the mystery of who we are and how we think?
An unprecedented blend of science and art, Daniel Levitin’s bestselling debut, This Is Your Brain on Music, changed the way we understand how music gets in our heads. Now, in what is being called a tour de force by leading scientists, he presents his audacious theory of ‘six songs,’ the key to how music shaped humanity across cultures and throughout history.
Preserving the emotional heritage of our lives and of our species, music from its very beginning, was allied to dance, as the structure of the brain confirms. Developing that neurological observation, Levitin shows how music and dance enabled the bonding and friendship necessary for society, science, and art to evolve. Songs of Friendship, Joy, Comfort, Knowledge, Religion, and Love have been sung for tens of thousands of years as we made our world. This palette of song types constitutes a remarkable tool for understanding who we are. It can reveal what music is accomplishing at work, at play, in the throes of a romantic break-up, or on the crest of a brilliant revelation.
Blending cutting-edge scientific findings with his own sometimes hilarious experiences as a musician and music-industry professional, Levitin’s sweeping study also incorporates wisdom gleaned from interviews with icons ranging from Sting and Paul Simon to Joni Mitchell and David Byrne, along with classical musicians and conductors, historians, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. The result is an inspired tour of the prehistoric yet elegant systems at play when we sing and dance at a wedding or cheer at a concert – or tune out quietly with an iPod.
These six songs enlighten human nature in a way you will never forget.