Music, the brain, and ecstasy: how music captures our imagination
William Morrow and Company
, 1997 - Music
- 377 pages
Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy is a far-reaching study of how music captivates us so completely and why we form such powerful connections to it. Leading us to an understanding of the pleasures of sound, Robert Jourdain draws on a variety of fields including science, psychology, and philosophy. He uses music from around the world to show how melodies work, how rhythm differs from beat, and why some sounds are beautiful and others ugly. Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy looks at the evolution of music and introduces surprising new concepts of memory and perception, knowledge and attention, motion and emotion, all at work as music takes hold of us. Along the way, a fascinating cast of characters brings Jourdain's narrative to vivid life: "idiots savants" who absorb whole pieces on a single hearing, composers who hallucinate entire compositions, a psychic who claimed to take dictation from long-dead composers, and victims of brain damage who can move only when they hear music. In each of these, Jourdain assures us, we will see parts of ourselves. Using such examples, he helps explain the parallels between music and language, and asks how the brain reacts to each.