Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination

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HarperCollins, 1997 - Music - 400 pages
45 Reviews
What makes a distant oboe's wail beautiful? Why do some kinds of music lift us to ecstasy, but not others? How can music make sense to an ear and brain evolved for detecting the approaching lion or tracking the unsuspecting gazelle? Lyrically interweaving discoveries from science, psychology, music theory, paleontology, and philosophy, Robert Jourdian brilliantly examines why music speaks to us in ways that words cannot, and why we form such powerful connections to it. In clear, understandable language, Jourdian expertly guides the reader through a continuum of musical experience: sound, tone, melody, harmony, rhythm, composition, performance, listening, understanding--and finally to ecstasy. Along the way, a fascinating cast of characters brings Jourdian's narrative to vivid life: "idiots savants" who absorb whole pieces on a single hearing, composers who hallucinate entire compositions, a psychic who claims to take dictation from long-dead composers, and victims of brain damage who can move only when they hear music. Here is a book that will entertain, inform, and stimulate everyone who loves music--and make them think about their favorite song in startling new ways.What makes a distant oboe s wail beautiful? Why do some kinds of music lift us to ecstasy, but not others? How can music make sense to an ear and brain evolved for detecting the approaching lion or tracking the unsuspecting gazelle? Lyrically interweaving discoveries from science, psychology, music theory, paleontology, and philosophy, Robert Jourdian brilliantly examines why music speaks to us in ways that words cannot, and why we form such powerful connections to it.

In clear, understandable language, Jourdian expertly guides the reader through a continuum of musical experience: sound, tone, melody, harmony, rhythm, composition, performance, listening, understanding--and finally to ecstasy. Along the way, a fascinating cast of characters brings Jourdian s narrative to vivid life: idiots savants who absorb whole pieces on a single hearing, composers who hallucinate entire compositions, a psychic who claims to take dictation from long-dead composers, and victims of brain damage who can move only when they hear music. Here is a book that will entertain, inform, and stimulate everyone who loves music--and make them think about their favorite song in startling new ways.

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It's quite simply the most treasured piece of writing that I own, and my mortgage is paid mostly to keep my books in the dry... :-) I could almost live without a roof if I had my books, or a few of them... if it worked that way, but it doesn't.

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Incredible book, essential reading for any musician. Opens up whole new ways of thinking about songwriting by describing exactly how the brain processes and interprets sounds and music. Just the right ... Read full review

Contents

to tone
30
to melody
58
to harmony
91
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8 other sections not shown

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About the author (1997)

When not writing about science and technology, Robert Jourdian plays the piano and composes. MUSIC, THE BRAIN, AND ECSTASY is his sixth book. He livesin Mendocino, California.

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