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Beethoven's Anvil: Music In Mind And Culture Hardcover – October 24, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Benzon, a horn player, is intensely interested in how music brings people together and gives us a fascinating, at times profound, and speculative book on it. Believing that speculation is necessary for intellectual and scientific progress, he writes for the future while proposing concepts to be tested in the present. He doesn't claim his ideas are true, only that they should be considered and tested. The book begins with stories of musical experience and proceeds to show how music can bring groups, not just pairs, together by means of their coordinated neurological systems; how music affects different sections of the brain; and how music has played a part in developing cultures throughout history. Although largely oriented to Africa and Europe, the book provides examples from the rest of the world, too; and Benzon often draws on personal experience to demonstrate how emotion and physiology combine in the music-making act. At times the text is heavy going, but Benzon's wide-ranging mind and striking analogies hold one's attention. William Beatty
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Review

"A provocative and persuasive treatise." -- Howard Gardner

"Beethoven's Anvil is learned, proficient...a profoundly provocative and creative synthesis. Reading it was a great experience for me." -- William H. McNeill, author of Plagues and Peoples and Keeping Together in Time

"Path-breaking...Sure to deepen our understanding of music and of ourselves." -- Charles Keil, author of Urban Blues --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (October 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465015433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465015436
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,117,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It took a cognitive scientist who is also a musician to notice an obvious but scientifically ignored linkage: making music together is something that enables humans to improvise cooperation on the fly. Benzon uses his own experiences as a musician to tie the extensive citations in biology, psychology, sociology, and economics into a sense-making narrative. Benzon believes that when people make music together they create a kind of shared brain-state that exists in no single head, but emerges from the synchronized communications of a group. and uses an impressive body of knowledge to back up his case. Benzon might be proved right and he might be proved wrong, but he uses solid science and creative conjecture to make a highly readable as well as reasonable case.
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Format: Hardcover
Music and culture are discussed, not with the usual artistic focus, but with a healthy blend of science and sociology added to the mix. Is music a luxury, an art, or a biological need? William Benzon's Beethoven's Anvil explores links between music and brain functioning, using the history of music and its evolution to draw some important arguments about music's importance to brain functioning as a whole.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Christmas present for my husband. I actually bought a used copy. it was in great condition for a great price. Husband has not read it yet, but is looking forward to it. He is a teacher and now principal and loves to read books about how our minds and thoughts are effected by different things.
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Format: Paperback
I cannot recommend this book. He puts forth some interesting ideas, but it is all conjecture. There is no scientific or historical foundation. It's all "could be", and "might be", and "may be", which becomes very frustrating. It also lacks focus. It drifts from topic to topic without a coherent driving thesis. Save your time and money.
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