Think of a song that resonates deep down in your being. Now imagine sitting down with someone who was there when the song was recorded and can tell you how that series of sounds was committed to tape, and who can also explain why that particular combination of rhythms, timbres and pitches has lodged in your memory, making your pulse race and your heart swell every time you hear it. Remarkably, Levitin does all this and more, interrogating the basic nature of hearing and of music making (this is likely the only book whose jacket sports blurbs from both Oliver Sacks and Stevie Wonder), without losing an affectionate appreciation for the songs he's reducing to neural impulses. Levitin is the ideal guide to this material: he enjoyed a successful career as a rock musician and studio producer before turning to cognitive neuroscience, earning a Ph.D. and becoming a top researcher into how our brains interpret music. Though the book starts off a little dryly (the first chapter is a crash course in music theory), Levitin's snappy prose and relaxed style quickly win one over and will leave readers thinking about the contents of their iPods in an entirely new way. -- PW Weekly
Adult/High School–Levitin's fascination with the mystery of music and the study of why it affects us so deeply is at the heart of this book. In a real sense, the author is a rock 'n' roll doctor, and in that guise dissects our relationship with music. He points out that bone flutes are among the oldest of human artifacts to have been found and takes readers on a tour of our bio-history. In this textbook for those who don't like textbooks, he discusses neurobiology, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, empirical philosophy, Gestalt psychology, memory theory, categorization theory, neurochemistry, and exemplar theory in relation to music theory and history in a manner that will draw in teens. A wonderful introduction to the science of one of the arts that make us human.–Will Marston, Booklist
The book by Daniel J. Levitin makes the case that while no one understands entirely why certain music becomes an obsession to some people, neuroscience can show what music does to our brain: it lights up every known region of our gray matter, whether we like the tune or not. Further, finding someone who shares our love for certain music may cue like-minds toward a resounding serendipity. Finding a full arena of ecstatic, kindred souls (an experience unknown to me—fear of crowds) must leave an indelible and even sacred imprint.
“This Is Your Brain on Music” bursts with intelligence, instruction, science, and soul. If I were looking for a complaint it would be that for a book about meticulous organization, reading it makes you run all over the place. It’s rich with lore and lists. Did you know the end of “A Day in the Life” on the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s CD has a few seconds of sound at 15 KHz—usually inaudible to those over 40? - newcritics.com