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On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind Hardcover – December 9, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0199990825 ISBN-10: 0199990824

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199990824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199990825
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.5 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

One of the top 10 science and tech books for December, 2013 - The Guardian

A signal musical and intellectual achievement. - Music & Letters


"Most music repeats itself a lot-an awful lot, actually. In On Repeat, Elizabeth Margulis takes a firm grasp of this obvious fact and moves it out from under our musical noses, giving it the thoughtful consideration it deserves. With knowledge and illustrations ranging from neuroscience to music analysis, and leavened with her personal experiences as a listener and pianist, Margulis shows that music's repetitiveness, far from being a flaw or lapse, is essential for us to hear, remember, move, feel, and delight in music, especially the music we know and love the best."-Justin London, Professor of Music, Carleton College, and author of Hearing in Time: Psychological Aspects of Musical Meter


"Cognitive music theorist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis addresses one of the great puzzles about music: why does it repeat so much? This simple question provides a wedge into a range of issues underlying musical understanding and appreciation. On Repeat is a consequential book written in engaging and non-technical language."-Fred Lerdahl, Fritz Reiner Professor of Music, Columbia University


"[H]ighly stimulating, if controversial. Recommended." --CHOICE


"[A] signal musical and intellectual achievement." -- Music and Letters


"A foundational study...The author has contributed a volume of overwhelming significance, originality, and rigor." --Society for Music Theory, in awarding the Wallace Berry Award


About the Author


Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis directs the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas. Her research uses theoretical, behavioral, and neuroimaging methodologies to investigate the dynamic, moment-to-moment experience of listeners without special musical training. She was also trained as a concert pianist.

More About the Author

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis directs the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas. Her research approaches music from the perspective of cognitive science. She was also trained as a concert pianist. Her work has appeared in diverse journals including Music Perception, Journal of Music Theory, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Music Theory Spectrum, Frontiers in Psychology, Computer Music Journal, Pyschology of Music, Journal of New Music Research, Empirical Studies of the Arts, Review of General Psychology, Human Brain Mapping, American Journal of Bioethics, and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. She spent the 2011-2012 academic year as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge. http://www.elizabethmargulis.com

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author, Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, is a musicologist and cognitive psychologist who uses brain imaging technology in her research on what makes music so special compared to speech or textual reading. Her observation that music and repetition are integrally linked and are biologically rooted is the chief focus of this academic, nearly encyclopedic book, as she also tackles repetition in other aspects of our lives as well, such as daily routines of hygiene, grooming, and morning coffee, various religious practices, and learning, including television advertising. She also mentions pathological repetitions, as in obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism.

The structure of music itself involves repetition, from the simple verse and refrain to pulsing minimalism, with rondos and fugues on the way. Repetition in speech, on the other hand, can become ineffective and boring, unless in oratory and propaganda, cadences and phrasing become musical. Composer Steve Reich even used repeated speech patterns to some of his music. Military drill commands are more effective in delivery and being heard if sung instead of shouted. Perhaps the most interesting and accessible chapter concerns our common experience of listening three times to novel music (or reading three times a complex novel) before able to judge its merits fairly. [See comment for elaboration and examples.] A characteristic of childhood is the need for verbatim repetition of stories, while adulthood prefers gist rephrasing and summations. Also presented are repetiton in trancing, in performances, in standardization of music via recordings, and data from experiments and imaging.

This book is difficult reading, since it is scholarly and assumes some familiarity with classical musicology and even brain anatomy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bart Paull on May 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Written in an engaging style, Dr. Margulis’ book offers surprising insights into repetition as a fundamental feature of music. Drawing on diverse examples from across musical genres, the book is at once a well-researched text at the forefront of its field and an accessible answer to some of the music world’s most intriguing questions. The text is artfully woven with examples of common musical experiences (melodies getting stuck in our heads, or why we get tired of a song after listening to it too many times) interspersed with descriptions of clever experiments designed to help explain why these occur. The book underpins a most basic human experience with a multidisciplinary scientific approach that is a joy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Wright on May 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
What a great book!
What a great book!

You really didn't need to see that sentence written more than once. But when it comes to music, repetition occurs at all levels and is necessary. This book showed me just how much, and why.

Rigorous and engaging, On Repeat draws from many disciplines (music cognition, music theory, neuroscience, linguistics, musicology) to shine a welcome light on hitherto elusive truths about how repetition in music works to "play the mind".

After reading this, I'll never listen to a piece of music quite the same way again. (In fact, as Margulis showed me, I never could have done anyway).

If you're interesting in understanding how music (all kinds) works, you need this book.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful By InfoJunkie on March 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Written like an academic textbook. I strongly recommend anyone interested in buying this to use the look inside feature and read just a few pages, to see the writing style. Very hard to get through.

The author's interview on NPR was much more enjoyable and useful than the book was.
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