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Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain…

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007)

by Oliver Sacks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,372921,793 (3.65)157
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. Here, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people. Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and Oliver Sacks tells us why.--From publisher description.… (more)

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» See also 157 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
Honestly, not what I was expecting. Possibly because I may not have paid enough attention to its premise, so that would be my fault. Still, not what I wanted and fairly dry at that, not reader-friendly, so probably only good for a niche audience... ( )
  scottcholstad | Jan 9, 2020 |
A fascinating look into music and the brain. Both have many dimensions, and Sacks explores how music affects humans by helping save a life (including his own) by singing the same song to get to a place of safety; to not shutting off when the brain is injured; to that terrible condition for a musician called Musician's Dystonia. How some Parkinson's patients can communicate through music, or other musically-inclined people can see the colors of music and instruments. It is a fascinating look at both worlds, although maps of the human brain would have been helpful. ( )
  threadnsong | Nov 30, 2019 |
Very interesting - particularly the part(s) where he says that everyone has an emotional reaction to music. I don't. I like music, I sing and play, but it's all about the words - the tune supports them but doesn't have much impact by itself. Purely instrumental music is pleasant noise, doesn't connect to me. I can't remember a tune without words to it (without a huge number of repetitions). Which made a lot of his assumptions fascinating - like learning that most people can see a color I never knew existed. The parts about music therapy were also interesting - how it can help with aphasia (loss of words) and with physical problems from Parkinson's tremors to locked muscles or nerves. He ends with some sweeping generalizations about the depth to which music is part of our selves, physically (spread throughout the brain) and mentally/emotionally/culturally; I found (as I usually do with Sacks' books) that the smaller observations and case studies were more interesting than the grand conclusions. ( )
1 vote jjmcgaffey | Aug 24, 2019 |
Sacks' observational essays on all things musical. Typically good. ( )
  JBD1 | Aug 5, 2019 |
Neurologist and prolific author Oliver Sacks turns his attention to music and the brain in this collection of case studies of patients and others.

I've read Hallucinations and Gratitude, and own two other books by Sacks that I'm interested in reading. His collections of case studies both shine light on how the brain works and what it can do when it works uniquely in an individual. I found this one of his weaker books. Music is the driving force behind it, but the case studies are all over the place, running the gamut from perfect pitch (very closely related to music) to an individual who had such severe amnesia and short term memory loss that he couldn't remember anything within a few minutes but who nonetheless could still relate to music. Some chapters were organized thematically and introduced several case studies; a few were one unique case study, only a few pages long. And for some reason, this one in particular had a lot of notes referring to case studies that were explored more fully in his earlier books. I carried on because I did enjoy what I was learning, but it's probably not a book I'd reread nor one I'd recommend as an introduction to Sacks' work. ( )
  bell7 | Jan 19, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
The gentle doctor turns his pen to another set of mental anomalies that can be viewed as either affliction or gift.

If we could prescribe what our physicians would be like, a good number of us would probably choose somebody like Sacks (Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, 2001, etc.). Learned, endlessly inquisitive and seemingly possessed of a bottomless store of human compassion, the neurologist’s authorial personality both reassures and arouses curiosity. Here, Sacks tackles the whole spectrum of the human body’s experience of music by studying it from the aesthetic as well as medical viewpoint. Fantastical case studies include a young boy assaulted by musical hallucinations who would shout “Take it out of my head! Take it away!” when music only he could hear became unbearably loud. Less frightening are stories about people like Martin, a severely disabled man who committed some 2,000 operas to memory, or ruminations on the linkage between perfect pitch and language: Young children learning music are vastly more likely to have perfect pitch if they speak Mandarin than almost any other language. ..
added by MsMixte | editKirkus Reviews (Aug 15, 2007)

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Oliver Sacksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kidd, ChipCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Orrin Devinsky, Ralph Siegel, and Connie Tomaino
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What an odd thing it is to see an entire species—billions of people—playing with, listening to, meaningless tonal patterns, occupied and preoccupied for much of their time by what they call "music."
Tony Cicoria was forty-two, very fit and robust, a former college football player who had become a well-regarded orthopedic surgeon in a small city in upstate New York.
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