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The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature Hardcover – August 19, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Add to this the fact that Levitin makes a lot of non-obvious broad statements without offering any supporting evidence; for examples snapping fingers to music uses up cortisol (pg. 101), cavemen used songs to remember geography (pg. 108), it is more difficult to fake sincerity in music than in spoken language (pg. 141) and of course the "there are only six types of songs in the world" assertion of the title.
Finally, Levitin keeps derailing the book with long rambling personal stories, most of which have little if anything to do with his subject matter. Though amusing and humanizing they are a distraction and ultimately become another irritant.
There *is* a lot of good information in the book, and the reader learns a lot of interesting facts and ponderable hypotheses. Too bad the presentation is so obnoxious.
By Shannon Thornton-Walsh (Dallas, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature (Paperback)
I'm giving two stars, because I didn't feel fully justified in giving one star, seeing as I've only read one quarter of the way through Levitin's book. I ordered it as a free sample from the publisher, who was promoting it as a possible secondary or optional classroom text. I was intrigued. My doctoral research was in ethnomusicology.
I started to read soon after I received the book last year but was immediately put off by one of Levitin's opening statements: "Anthropologists, archaeologists, biologists, and psychologists all study human origins, but relatively little attention has been paid to the origins of music." Huh? OK. Probably true and for good reason. Evidence for music in early human culture is overwhelming, but determining the "why" is an enterprise fraught with complexity and ambiguity. But Anthropology has two entire subfields devoted to evolution on the one hand and the study of music in culture, on the other, which seems to me to be two of the best places to start. Levitin acknowledges and draws on the first, mostly not very confidently, and ignores the second.
I lent the book to a friend and recently received it back and thought I'd push past my initial resistance. Levitin draws on cross-cultural examples to begin supporting his thesis, but not once in the entire book can I find a single reference to any of the pioneering work done by ethnomusicologists. Perhaps this is because Levitin only sourced the work of anthropologists, not music/culture specialists within that field. Why the obvious elision of the entire field of study?Read more ›
Read "This is your brain on music" - avoid "The World in Six Songs."
The six broad categories of music are songs about friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion and love. Each has a different function, but all serve to bind us together. They make us stronger as a species.
Levitin, a musician and scientist, cites anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, neurosurgeons, psychologists, and many famous musicians in this book. He includes lyrics from a great range of songs, including "At Seventeen," "The Hokey Pokey," "I Walk the Line," "Twist and Shout," and "Log Blues" from Ren & Stimpy.
Music can be so evocative. A snippet of song can take you back to the exact moment you heard it in childhood or high school or whenever. It's like there is a direct link that exists in the human brain between music and memory.
This books tells us that Americans spend more money on music than they do on prescription drugs or sex, and the average American hears more than five hours of music per day. It's obviously important to us. After reading The World in Six Songs, you'll have a much better idea why.
Here's the chapter list:
1. Taking It from the Top or "The Hills Are Alive..."
2. Friendship or "War (What Is It Good For)?"
3. Joy or "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut"
4. Comfort or "Before There Was Prozac, There Was You"
5. Knowledge or "I Need to Know"
6. Religion or "People Get Ready"
7. Love or "Bring `Em All In"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a difficult book to get through. The author's name dropping is annoying and he seems to go off on stories that while interesting don't seem to add to the topic being... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ligtstar
Wonderful read! Presents a perspective on music that is expansive and fascinating!Published 5 months ago by Steve Gideon
It's really quite terrible. Levitin doesn't "prove" anything, he rarely uses science, and just uses observations to make huge claims without thinking of alternativesPublished 6 months ago by James
Daniel J. Levitin, a former record executive turned neuroscientist, pals around with David Byrne, Sting, Joni Mitchell and other celebrities in a book whose purpose is to define... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
A little anectodal for me to be honest; some good insight though.Published 10 months ago by Mark Baynes
Not nearly as good as "This is your brain on music". Although the core ideas are very interesting, the book should be much shorter. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Legis
Very interesting. Have yet to finish. Likely to read a second timePublished 13 months ago by leon Rice
I'm trying really hard to get through the first chapter and thinking about skipping it all together in hopes that the rest is a lot less long winded and more connected.Published 13 months ago by Rebecca MacTaggart