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

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HarperCollins, 1997 - Music - 400 pages
8 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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - viking2917 - LibraryThing

Interesting read on the pyscho-acoustics of how the brain hears and reacts to music. Interesting theories, but many of them are ultimately unconvincing to me. Interestingly mentions a study that ... Read full review

MUSIC, THE BRAIN, AND ECSTASY: How Music Captures Our Imagination

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A layman's primer on the psychology and history of the human response to music. Jourdain, a California composer and pianist, goes at his subject with the zeal of an impresario, approaching music from ... Read full review

Contents

to tone
30
to melody
58
to harmony
91
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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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