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Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain…

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007)

by Oliver Sacks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,086881,812 (3.64)144
  1. 30
    This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin (kjforrest)
    kjforrest: Another excellent book about music and the brain.
  2. 10
    Forever Today: A True Story of Lost Memory and Never-Ending Love by Deborah Wearing (bernsad)
    bernsad: Fans of Oliver Sacks will find this interesting as it is one of his case studies.

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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 |
Oliver Sacks explores connections between neurology and music, how brain damage can affect enjoyment of music negatively and positively, and how music can help patients with brain damage.

At times, like [The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat], it feels like it's just one case after another of a person whose name I will soon forget who has been injured or has a congenital difference in some area of the brain whose location I'm not terribly sure of and who shows this odd behaviour.

Yes, I'm sure it does give hope to some people who are dealing with this sort of thing either themselves or in relatives and friends to know there are others out there. And it helps us understand how music works. But there were times I felt like an 18th century gentleman being shown round Bedlam and being invited to draw useful lessons from the inmates. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Nov 5, 2018 |
DNF- seemed repetitive and I guess it's hard to read a book about music without hearing the music
  wrightja2000 | Sep 6, 2018 |
Intellectual and emotional. This book gives various anecdotes about how music affects people. Some are about how one's very existence and identity are attached to music. Some parts were just heartbreaking in how music was able to inspire people, how music was the only thing that allowed some people to have some sort of existence. Fascinating read. ( )
  trile1000 | Jul 1, 2018 |
I didn't like it as much as I liked V.S. Ramachandran's book ( )
  AnupGampa | Jun 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (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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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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330418386, Paperback)

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:36 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. In Musicophilia, he shows us a variety of what he calls "musical misalignments." Among them: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of forty-two; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only seven seconds - for everything but music. Dr. Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson's disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people who are deeply disoriented by Alzheimer's or schizophrenia." - Back cover.… (more)

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