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The Power of Music Kindle Edition

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Length: 284 pages
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Editorial Reviews


Preliminary but striking investigations into the effects of music on everything from string theory to a baby's cry…. A well-tempered introduction to music's far-reaching influence on man, beast and cosmos. (Kirkus Reviews)

This title will be welcomed by those who accept music as a positive force and by readers interested in current scientific trends. (Barry Zaslow, Library Journal)

I knew nothing about music--except for knowing what music I like--until I took this journey with Elena Mannes. What a trip! Elena Mannes has always crafted exquisite stories for television, winning all the top awards for excellence over her long career at CBS and PBS. Now she has brought that gift for storytelling to The Power of Music, laying out even for an untutored layman like me a captivating account of how music connects mind and body. She digs deeply into stunning new research into music's importance in our lives and reveals that science and art are muses that nourish each other and enrich individual lives. (Bill Moyers)

An important book for anyone who loves music, from the professional performer to the young person listening on earbuds. By the end of this fascinating story, Elena Mannes has led us to realize just how much we take music, its mysteries, and power for granted. This is a refreshing and exciting read that makes everything new again. If this book were required reading in every high school, we would start seeing generations of music scientists, and perhaps even better-equipped performers and audience members--which would naturally lead to music becoming a better-funded and respected subject in our schools than it currently is. (Deborah Voigt, internationally acclaimed opera soprano)

We've always known that music is a transformative, spiritual experience--now modern science can explain how and why. Elena Mannes explores this groundbreaking and often poetic new territory. (Bobby McFerrin, vocalist/pianist/conductor)

Recent research on music's effect on the brain has created a firm scientific footing for a proposition that has been evident for millennia, namely, that music is a powerful force in our lives. In The Power of Music, Elena Mannes cites this emerging research in a personal and compelling account of music's impact on us. This is a must read for anyone who, like the author, has felt the transformative influence of music. (Jamshed Bharucha, president, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art)

About the Author

Elena Mannes has won six Emmys and many other national awards for her documentaries. She is a member of one of the first families of American music. Her grandparents founded the Mannes College of Music in New York City; her great uncle, Walter Damrosch, conducted the Metropolitan Opera and was the instigator for the building of Carnegie Hall.

Product Details

  • File Size: 597 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0802719961
  • Publisher: Walker Books; Reprint edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Publication Date: May 24, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005122XGG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,733 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Elena Mannes is a multi-award winning documentary director/writer/producer as well as an author. Her first book, "The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song, is published by Walker Books/Bloomsbury USA (May 31, 2011).

Her work has appeared on both public and commercial television. Her honors include six national Emmys, a George Foster Peabody Award, two Directors Guild of America Awards, and nine Cine Golden Eagles.

Mannes developed and created a primetime PBS special, "The Music Instinct: Science and Song" a Co-production with WNET/Thirteen. She was also co-Executive Producer as well as Director/Writer/Producer of the two-hour program which aired on PBS in June 2009. "The Music Instinct" explores recent discoveries about the ower of music and its connection to the body, the brain and to the world of nature. This exciting cross-genre special features world-famous musicians including Bobby McFerrin, Maestro Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma and Evelyn Glennie as well as visionary scientists. "The Music Instinct" was recently honored with the Grand Prix for best film in competition at the Parisscience International Film Festival. It has also won a Cine Golden Eagle, the Cine Special Jury Prize for Arts & Culture, and the the BANFF award for best Science and Technology film.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By R.E. Burke TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Is music the Final Frontier? Space takes us to new heights and has claimed our attention for at least a century, but music plumbs the depths of heart and soul. Elena Mannes' "The Power of Music" is a daring exploration of the emerging science of one of the most integral aspects of our being in this world.

And yet, music is so commonplace and so intuitively and immediately appreciated by almost everyone that it has largely escaped the kind of analytical attention we bring to other aspects of our lives. Strides in neuroscience over the past 20 years offer a foundation for addressing that oversight. We are beginning to understand empathy as a neurophysiological phenomenon. Researchers like Andrew Newberg use MRI's to understand the spirituality of prayer and meditation. We now appreciate more fully the plasticity of the brain and know that we can restructure it through focused exercises (cf. Dan Siegal and Rick Hanson's work on neuropsychology, the work of the Center for Affective Neuroscience, etc.).

If we have a better grasp of empathy, though, what about our sympathetic apprehending of the world? We know that our brain entrains itself to the harmonies of the vibrations we sense through hearing and feeling. We know also that we participate in this symphony by creating and playing our own harmonies. Could it be that music is our mindfulness taken to a new level?

Ms. Mannes is perhaps uniquely suited to take us on this particular journey. Her family of musicians founded the Mannes College of Music, now part of The New School. She is the award-winning producer of PBS documentaries, including "The Music Instinct" (a play on Steven Pinker's groundbreaking evolutionary analysis of language).
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Irene Gubrud on June 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book is magnificent! Written in a highly engaging style, it will open many doors, and really help people understand this new field of music and neuroscience. It should do much to disseminate this vital new information that can contribute to our health and well-being.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gelman on January 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book could have been considered to be a more serious one had someone checked the accuracy of some "facts" mentioned in the book. As a previous reader had already written in his review, there are many errors which make this book a bit unreliable in its content. This relates to some fictitious work by Beethoven, which is mentioned in the book and many more errors. Thus, how can one be certain about the rest of it?
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49 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Bravo Volta on January 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is so much wrong with this book I hardly know where to begin. Mannes' explanations of musical terms and concepts might seem to make sense for people who are not musically trained, but for anyone who is trained, they leave much to be desired. Some things are oversimplified so much that they become either vague or actually wrong. For example: p. 17 -- "[T]he average walking step, especially when organized as a march, is 120 steps to the minute." OK, fine. Next she writes, " 'Stars and Stripes Forever' is traditionally played at that rate." All right, she's giving us an example of a march that is played at that tempo, which supports the assertion that 120 bpm is march tempo. Then we get, "Often Brahms's [sic] Symphony no. 1, finale is as well." Aside from the incorrect punctuation (apostrophe, comma), the larger problem is that the finale of Brahms' first symphony IS NOT A MARCH. Not everything that is at 120 bpm is a march. (All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.) But its use in this paragraph suggests that she is hoping it further supports her previous statements. She then writes, "Keep in mind that if the tempo is set to 120, the basic pulse is actually given by the first and third beats." That sentence implies that this is universally true, but it is not. Not only does it ignore the complicated relationship between pulse and beat, it also only applies to certain kinds of music that are written in four (which, by the way, does not include "The Stars and Stripes Forever," which is written in 2 -- and yes, the word "the" is part of the proper title). It also excludes music that's written in, say, 3, or 5, or 3+3+2. These all have different ways of organizing pulse and time. You can't just say "the first and third beats give the pulse" as if it's universally true.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ted Lehmann on January 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In The Power of Music (Walker Books, 2011, 284 Pages, $9.39 on Kindle) Elena Mannes explores how music has affected the human organism from the mysts of time to the laboratories of tomorrow. In doing so, she examines the role of music in primitive societies, its power to move the mind and the spirit, its ability to heal, and the mystique of its resonance in our minds and bodies. She does so in a mostly lively style, avoiding too many references to brain geography while presenting hard science and deep speculation with visual language that makes the findings of serious research available to the lay reader. As a film maker, her visual style brings the stories she has to tell to life, while she remains a reputable reporter, providing extensive footnotes and notes. Through interviews with scholars and musicians along with field trips to concert halls and primitive societies, she not only describes the musical experience, but makes it real and personal through her own experience.

Much of the discussion of various effects music has on individuals (and groups) relies on medical and psychological research using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) which enables us to watch the brain in operation as it receives various kinds of stimulation. These images show, in vivid color and constant motion, various parts of the brain as they become involved in responding to stimuli. The images show that different frequencies, rhythms, and activities involve the brain in ways that could not even be imagined with earlier technology. Combined with more conventional measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing, a picture emerges of the entire body being effected by listening to and/or making music.
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