Catalogue


Musicophilia: tales of music and the brain [sound recording] /
Oliver Sacks.
edition
Abridged.
imprint
New York : Random House Audio, p2007.
description
5 sound discs (6 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
ISBN
0739357395 :, 9780739357392 :
format(s)
CD
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
New York : Random House Audio, p2007.
isbn
0739357395 :
9780739357392 :
publisher #
RHCD 2219
general note
Compact discs.
Subtitle from container.
performer
Read by Simon Prebble.
abstract
Drawing on the individual experiences of patients, musicians, composers, and ordinary people, the author explores the complex human response to music, and how music can affect those suffering from a variety of ailments.
catalogue key
8829979
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
A Bolt from the Blue: Sudden Musicophilia Tony Cicoria was forty-two, very fit and robust, a former college football player who had become a well-regarded orthopedic surgeon in a small city in upstate New York. He was at a lakeside pavilion for a family gathering one fall afternoon. It was pleasant and breezy, but he noticed a few storm clouds in the distance; it looked like rain. He went to a pay phone outside the pavilion to make a quick call to his mother (this was in 1994, before the age of cell phones). He still remembers every single second of what happened next: "I was talking to my mother on the phone. There was a little bit of rain, thunder in the distance. My mother hung up. The phone was a foot away from where I was standing when I got struck. I remember a flash of light coming out of the phone. It hit me in the face. Next thing I remember, I was flying backwards." Thenhe seemed to hesitate before telling me this"I was flying forwards. Bewildered. I looked around. I saw my own body on the ground. I said to myself, 'Oh shit, I'm dead.' I saw people converging on the body. I saw a womanshe had been standing waiting to use the phone right behind meposition herself over my body, give it CPR. . . . I floated up the stairsmy consciousness came with me. I saw my kids, had the realization that they would be okay. Then I was surrounded by a bluish-white light . . . an enormous feeling of well-being and peace. The highest and lowest points of my life raced by me. No emotion associated with these . . . pure thought, pure ecstasy. I had the perception of accelerating, being drawn up . . . there was speed and direction. Then, as I was saying to myself, 'This is the most glorious feeling I have ever had'SLAM! I was back." Dr. Cicoria knew he was back in his own body because he had painpain from the burns on his face and his left foot, where the electrical charge had entered and exited his bodyand, he realized, "only bodies have pain." He wanted to go back, he wanted to tell the woman to stop giving him CPR, to let him go; but it was too latehe was firmly back among the living. After a minute or two, when he could speak, he said, "It's okayI'm a doctor!" The woman (she turned out to be an intensive-care-unit nurse) replied, "A few minutes ago, you weren't." The police came and wanted to call an ambulance, but Cicoria refused, delirious. They took him home instead ("it seemed to take hours"), where he called his own doctor, a cardiologist. The cardiologist, when he saw him, thought Cicoria must have had a brief cardiac arrest, but could find nothing amiss with examination or EKG. "With these things, you're alive or dead," the cardiologist remarked. He did not feel that Dr. Cicoria would suffer any further consequences of this bizarre accident. Cicoria also consulted a neurologisthe was feeling sluggish (most unusual for him) and having some difficulties with his memory. He found himself forgetting the names of people he knew well. He was examined neurologically, had an EEG and an MRI. Again, nothing seemed amiss. A couple of weeks later, when his energy returned, Dr. Cicoria went back to work. There were still some lingering memory problemshe occasionally forgot the names of rare diseases or surgical proceduresbut all his surgical skills were unimpaired. In another two weeks, his memory problems disappeared, and that, he thought, was the end of the matter. What then happened still fills Cicoria with amazement, even now, a dozen years later. Life had returned to normal, seemingly, when "suddenly, over two or three days, there was this insatiable desire to listen to piano music." This was completely out of keeping with anything in his past. He had had a
First Chapter
A Bolt from the Blue: Sudden Musicophilia

Tony Cicoria was forty-two, very fit and robust, a former college football player who had become a well-regarded orthopedic surgeon in a small city in upstate New York. He was at a lakeside pavilion for a family gathering one fall afternoon. It was pleasant and breezy, but he noticed a few storm clouds in the distance; it looked like rain.

He went to a pay phone outside the pavilion to make a quick call to his mother (this was in 1994, before the age of cell phones). He still remembers every single second of what happened next: "I was talking to my mother on the phone. There was a little bit of rain, thunder in the distance. My mother hung up. The phone was a foot away from where I was standing when I got struck. I remember a flash of light coming out of the phone. It hit me in the face. Next thing I remember, I was flying backwards."

Then—he seemed to hesitate before telling me this—"I was flying forwards. Bewildered. I looked around. I saw my own body on the ground. I said to myself, 'Oh shit, I'm dead.' I saw people converging on the body. I saw a woman—she had been standing waiting to use the phone right behind me—position herself over my body, give it CPR. . . . I floated up the stairs—my consciousness came with me. I saw my kids, had the realization that they would be okay. Then I was surrounded by a bluish-white light . . . an enormous feeling of well-being and peace. The highest and lowest points of my life raced by me. No emotion associated with these . . . pure thought, pure ecstasy. I had the perception of accelerating, being drawn up . . . there was speed and direction. Then, as I was saying to myself, 'This is the most glorious feeling I have ever had'—SLAM! I was back."

Dr. Cicoria knew he was back in his own body because he had pain—pain from the burns on his face and his left foot, where the electrical charge had entered and exited his body—and, he realized, "only bodies have pain." He wanted to go back, he wanted to tell the woman to stop giving him CPR, to let him go; but it was too late—he was firmly back among the living. After a minute or two, when he could speak, he said, "It's okay—I'm a doctor!" The woman (she turned out to be an intensive-care-unit nurse) replied, "A few minutes ago, you weren't."

The police came and wanted to call an ambulance, but Cicoria refused, delirious. They took him home instead ("it seemed to take hours"), where he called his own doctor, a cardiologist. The cardiologist, when he saw him, thought Cicoria must have had a brief cardiac arrest, but could find nothing amiss with examination or EKG. "With these things, you're alive or dead," the cardiologist remarked. He did not feel that Dr. Cicoria would suffer any further consequences of this bizarre accident.

Cicoria also consulted a neurologist—he was feeling sluggish (most unusual for him) and having some difficulties with his memory. He found himself forgetting the names of people he knew well. He was examined neurologically, had an EEG and an MRI. Again, nothing seemed amiss.

A couple of weeks later, when his energy returned, Dr. Cicoria went back to work. There were still some lingering memory problems—he occasionally forgot the names of rare diseases or surgical procedures—but all his surgical skills were unimpaired. In another two weeks, his memory problems disappeared, and that, he thought, was the end of the matter.

What then happened still fills Cicoria with amazement, even now, a dozen years later. Life had returned to normal, seemingly, when "suddenly, over two or three days, there was this insatiable desire to listen to piano music." This was completely out of keeping with anything in his past. He had had a few piano lessons as a boy, he said, "but no real interest." He did not have a piano in his house. What music he did listen to tended to be rock music.

With this sudden onset of craving for piano music, he began to buy recordings and became especially enamored of a Vladimir Ashkenazy recording of Chopin favorites—theMilitaryPolonaise, theWinter WindÉtude, theBlack KeyÉtude, the A-flat Polonaise, the B-flat Minor Scherzo. "I loved them all," Tony said. "I had the desire to play them. I ordered all the sheet music. At this point, one of our babysitters asked if she could store her piano in our house—so now, just when I craved one, a piano arrived, a nice little upright. It suited me fine. I could hardly read the music, could barely play, but I started to teach myself." It had been more than thirty years since the few piano lessons of his boyhood, and his fingers seemed stiff and awkward.

And then, on the heels of this sudden desire for piano music, Cicoria started to hear music in his head. "The first time," he said, "it was in a dream. I was in a tux, onstage; I was playing something I had written. I woke up, startled, and the music was still in my head. I jumped out of bed, started trying to write down as much of it as I could remember. But I hardly knew how to notate what I heard." This was not too successful—he had never tried to write or notate music before. But whenever he sat down at the piano to work on the Chopin, his own music "would come and take me over. It had a very powerful presence."

I was not quite sure what to make of this peremptory music, which would intrude almost irresistibly and overwhelm him. Was he having musical hallucinations? No, Dr. Cicoria said, they were not hallucinations—"inspiration" was a more apt word. The music was there, deep inside him—or somewhere—and all he had to do was let it come to him. "It's like a frequency, a radio band. If I open myself up, it comes. I want to say, 'It comes from heaven,' as Mozart said."

His music is ceaseless. "It never runs dry," he continued. "If anything, I have to turn it off."

Now he had to wrestle not just with learning to play the Chopin, but to give form to the music continually running in his head, to try it out on the piano, to get it on manuscript paper. "It was a terrible struggle," he said. "I would get up at four in the morning and play till I went to work, and when I got home from work I was at the piano all evening. My wife was not really pleased. I was possessed."

In the third month after being struck by lightning, then, Cicoria—once an easygoing, genial family man, almost indifferent to music—was inspired, even possessed, by music, and scarcely had time for anything else. It began to dawn on him that perhaps he had been "saved" for a special reason. "I came to think," he said, "that the only reason I had been allowed to survive was the music." I asked him whether he had been a religious man before the lightning. He had been raised Catholic, he said, but had never been particularly observant; he had some "unorthodox" beliefs, too, such as in reincarnation.

He himself, he grew to think, had had a sort of reincarnation, had been transformed and given a special gift, a mission, to "tune in" to the music that he called, half metaphorically, "the music from heaven." This came, often, in "an absolute torrent" of notes with no breaks, no rests, between them, and he would have to give it shape and form. (As he said this, I thought of Caedmon, the seventh-century Anglo-Saxon poet, an illiterate goatherd who, it was said, had received the "art of song" in a dream one night, and spent the rest of his life praising God and creation in hymns and poems.)

Cicoria continued to work on his piano playing and his compositions. He got books on notation, and soon realized that he needed a music teacher. He would travel to concerts by his favorite performers but had nothing to do with musical friends in his own town or musical activities there. This was a solitary pursuit, between himself and his muse.

I asked whether he had experienced other changes since the lightning strike—a new appreciation of art, perhaps, different taste in reading, new beliefs? Cicoria said he had become "very spiritual" since his near-death experience. He had started to read every book he could find about near-death experiences and about lightning strikes. And he had got "a whole library on Tesla," as well as anything on the terrible and beautiful power of high-voltage electricity. He felt he could sometimes see "auras" of light or energy around people's bodies—he had never seen this before the lightning bolt.

Some years passed, and Cicoria's new life, his inspiration, never deserted him for a moment. He continued to work full-time as a surgeon, but his heart and mind now centered on music. He got divorced in 2004, and the same year had a fearful motorcycle accident. He had no memory of this, but his Harley was struck by another vehicle, and he was found in a ditch, unconscious and badly injured, with broken bones, a ruptured spleen, a perforated lung, cardiac contusions, and, despite his helmet, head injuries. In spite of all this, he made a complete recovery and was back at work in two months. Neither the accident nor his head injury nor his divorce seemed to have made any difference to his passion for playing and composing music.



I have never met another person with a story like Tony Cicoria's, but I have occasionally had patients with a similar sudden onset of musical or artistic interests—including Salimah M., a research chemist. In her early forties, Salimah started to have brief periods, lasting a minute or less, in which she would get "a strange feeling"—sometimes a sense that she was on a beach that she had once known, while at the same time being perfectly conscious of her current surroundings and able to continue a conversation, or drive a car, or do whatever she had been doing. Occasionally these episodes were accompanied by a "sour taste" in the mouth. She noticed these strange occurrences, but did not think of them as having any neurological significance. It was only when she had a grand mal seizure in the summer of 2003 that she went to a neurologist and was given brain scans, which revealed a large tumor in her right temporal lobe. This had been the cause of her strange episodes, which were now realized to be temporal lobe seizures. The tumor, her doctors felt, was malignant (though it was probably an oligodendroglioma, of relatively low malignancy) and needed to be removed. Salimah wondered if she had been given a death sentence and was fearful of the operation and its possible consequences; she and her husband had been told that there might be some "personality changes" following it. But in the event, the surgery went well, most of the tumor was removed, and after a period of convalescence, Salimah was able to return to her work as a chemist.

She had been a fairly reserved woman before the surgery, who would occasionally be annoyed or preoccupied by small things like dust or untidiness; her husband said she was sometimes "obsessive" about jobs that needed to be done around the house. But now, after the surgery, Salimah seemed unperturbed by such domestic matters. She had become, in the idiosyncratic words of her husband (English was not their first language), "a happy cat." She was, he declared, "a joyologist."

Salimah's new cheerfulness was apparent at work. She had worked in the same laboratory for fifteen years and had always been admired for her intelligence and dedication. But now, while losing none of this professional competence, she seemed a much warmer person, keenly sympathetic and interested in the lives and feelings of her co-workers. Where before, in a colleague's words, she had been "much more into herself," she now became the confidante and social center of the entire lab.

At home, too, she shed some of her Marie Curie-like, work-oriented personality. She permitted herself time off from her thinking, her equations, and became more interested in going to movies or parties, living it up a bit. And a new love, a new passion, entered her life. She had been "vaguely musical," in her own words, as a girl, had played the piano a little, but music had never played any great part in her life. Now it was different. She longed to hear music, to go to concerts, to listen to classical music on the radio or on CDs. She could be moved to rapture or tears by music which had carried "no special feeling" for her before. She became "addicted" to her car radio, which she would listen to while driving to work. A colleague who happened to pass her on the road to the lab said that the music on her radio was "incredibly loud"—he could hear it a quarter of a mile away. Salimah, in her convertible, was "entertaining the whole freeway."

Like Tony Cicoria, Salimah showed a drastic transformation from being only vaguely interested in music to being passionately excited by music and in continual need of it. And with both of them, there were other, more general changes, too—a surge of emotionality, as if emotions of every sort were being stimulated or released. In Salimah's words, "What happened after the surgery—I felt reborn. That changed my outlook on life and made me appreciate every minute of it."


From the Hardcover edition.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-04-01:
Avid readers of Sacks's other work (e.g., The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, 1985; Awakenings, 1972) will delight in this treatment of the neurology of music. Those in the fields of psychology and physiology have written books about music's effect on the brain, but none of those works is as readable, and few are as insightful, as this one. Sacks (Columbia Univ. Medical Center) argues that human neurology is designed for music in the same way it is designed for language. Until quite recently, scientists learned about the normal human brain primarily by studying brains gone awry. Sacks acknowledges that technological innovations will reveal much about the brain, but he believes that case histories are equally legitimate sources of information. The case histories included here include a man who could remember nothing but music for more than seconds, a man struck by lightning who took up the piano, and a woman plagued by musical hallucinations. Sacks also includes general examinations of intriguing topics--absolute pitch, synaesthesia, amusia, music "stuck" in one's head. But the book's best quality is Sacks's clear, probing, yet compassionate writing. He demonstrates how understanding human engagement with music can help one understand the meaning of being human. Summing Up: Essential. All readers, all levels. M. Neil Augustana College (IL)
Appeared in Library Journal on 2007-06-01:
Everyone's favorite neurologist considers how music affects us. With a six-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2007-08-27:
Sacks is an unparalleled chronicler of modern medicine, and fans of his work will find much to enjoy when he turns his prodigious talent for observation to music and its relationship to the brain. The subtitle aptly frames the book as a series of medical case studies-some in-depth, some abruptly short. The tales themselves range from the relatively mundane (a song that gets stuck on a continuing loop in one's mind) through the uncommon (Tourette's or Parkinson's patients whose symptoms are calmed by particular kinds of music) to the outright startling (a man struck by lightning subsequently developed a newfound passion and talent for the concert piano). In this latest collection, Sacks introduces new and fascinating characters, while also touching on the role of music in some of his classic cases (the man who mistook his wife for a hat makes a brief appearance). Though at times the narrative meanders, drawing connections through juxtaposition while leaving broader theories to be inferred by the reader, the result is greater than the sum of its parts. This book leaves one a little more attuned to the remarkable complexity of human beings, and a bit more conscious of the role of music in our lives. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Powerful and compassionate . . . Dr. Sacks has written a book that not only contributes to our understanding of the elusive magic of music but also illuminates the strange workings, and misfirings, of the human mind...He is able in these pages to convey both the fathomless mysteries of the human brain and the equally profound mysteries of music." The New York Times "Curious, cultured, caring, in his person Sacks justifies the medical profession and, one is tempted to say, the human race . . . Sacks is, in short, the ideal exponent of the view that responsiveness to music is intrinsic to our makeup. He is also the ideal guide to the territory he covers.Musicophiliaallows readers to join Sacks where he is most alive, amid melodies and with his patients." Peter D. Kramer,The Washington Post "Readers will be grateful that Sacks . . . is happy to revel in phenomena that he cannot yet explain." The New York Times Book Review "The persuasive essays about composers, patients, savants, and ordinary people . . . offer captivating variations on the central premise that human beings are 'exquisitely tuned' to the illuminating yet ultimately mysterious powers of music." Elle "The underlying authority ofMusicophilialies in the warmth and easy command of the author's voice. Sacks has an expert bedside manner: informed but humble, self-questioning, literary without being self-conscious . . . his prose [is] passionate and informative." The Los Angeles Times "With the exception of Lewis Thomas, no physician has ever written better about his trade." Salon "A gifted writer and a neurologist, Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up." Newsweek "Luminous, original, and indispensable . . .Musicophiliais like a concert of Mozart's mazurkas: fast, inventive and weirdly beautiful . . . yet what is most inspiring is his empathy." American Scholar "Like the case studies that informed and appeared in his previous books,The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a HatandAwakenings(which inspired the Oscar-nominated film by the same name), [inMusicophilia] Dr. Sacks guides readers through the fascinating, disturbing, inspiring stories of clinical dilemmas he encounters . . . Evocative, thought-provoking and compassionate beyond measure, this is a book to cherish." The Washington Times "InMusicophilia, Sacks. . . shares the extraordinary stories of people whose personal worlds have been transformed by music." The Toronto Star "Sacks is the consummate storyteller . . . his great giftas a physician as well as a writeris to see the whole person, rather than just the brain or the disease. "Sacks is an unparalleled chronicler of modern medicine, and fans of his work will find much to enjoy when he turns his prodigious talent for observation to music and its relationship to the brain . . . This book leaves one a little more attuned to the remarkable complexity of human beings, and a bit more conscious of the role of music in our lives." Publishers Weekly "Neurologist Sacks, one of the foremost physician-essayists of the day, charmingly argues that music is essential to being human in ways that have only begun to be understood. . . His customary erudition and fellow-feeling ensure that, no matter how clinical the discussion becomes, it remains, like the mu
"Dr. Sacks writes not just as a doctor and a scientist but also as a humanist with a philosophical and literary bent. . . [his] book not only contributes to our understanding of the elusive magic of music but also illuminates the strange workings, and misfirings, of the human mind." Michiko Kakutani,The New York Times "Oliver Sacks turns his formidable attention to music and the brain . . . He doesn't stint on the science . . . but the underlying authority ofMusicophilialies in the warmth and easy command of the author's voice." Mark Coleman, Los Angeles Times "His work is luminous, original, and indispensable . . .Musicophiliais a Chopin mazurka recital of a book, fast, inventive and weirdly beautiful . . . Yet what is most awe-inspiring is his observational empathy." American Scholar "Curious, cultured, caring, in his person Sacks justifies the medical profession and, one is tempted to say, the human race . . . Sacks is, in short, the ideal exponent of the view that responsiveness to music is intrinsic to our makeup. He is also the ideal guide to the territory he covers.Musicophiliaallows readers to join Sacks where he is most alive, amid melodies and with his patients." Peter D. Kramer,The Washington Post "Readers will be grateful that Sacks . . . is happy to revel in phenomena that he cannot yet explain." The New York Times Book Review "The persuasive essays about composers, patients, savants, and ordinary people . . . offer captivating variations on the central premise that human beings are 'exquisitely tuned' to the illuminating yet ultimately mysterious powers of music." Elle "With the exception of Lewis Thomas, no physician has ever written better about his trade." Salon "A gifted writer and a neurologist, Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up." Newsweek From the Hardcover edition.
"Dr. Sacks writes not just as a doctor and a scientist but also as a humanist with a philosophical and literary bent. . . [his] book not only contributes to our understanding of the elusive magic of music but also illuminates the strange workings, and misfirings, of the human mind." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Oliver Sacks turns his formidable attention to music and the brain . . . He doesn't stint on the science . . . but the underlying authority of Musicophilialies in the warmth and easy command of the author's voice." Mark Coleman, Los Angeles Times "His work is luminous, original, and indispensable . . . Musicophiliais a Chopin mazurka recital of a book, fast, inventive and weirdly beautiful . . . Yet what is most awe-inspiring is his observational empathy." American Scholar "Curious, cultured, caring, in his person Sacks justifies the medical profession and, one is tempted to say, the human race . . . Sacks is, in short, the ideal exponent of the view that responsiveness to music is intrinsic to our makeup. He is also the ideal guide to the territory he covers. Musicophiliaallows readers to join Sacks where he is most alive, amid melodies and with his patients." Peter D. Kramer, The Washington Post "Readers will be grateful that Sacks . . . is happy to revel in phenomena that he cannot yet explain." The New York Times Book Review "The persuasive essays about composers, patients, savants, and ordinary people . . . offer captivating variations on the central premise that human beings are 'exquisitely tuned' to the illuminating yet ultimately mysterious powers of music." Elle "With the exception of Lewis Thomas, no physician has ever written better about his trade." Salon "A gifted writer and a neurologist, Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up." Newsweek From the Hardcover edition.
"Dr. Sacks writes not just as a doctor and a scientist but also as a humanist with a philosophical and literary bent. . . [his] book not only contributes to our understanding of the elusive magic of music but also illuminates the strange workings, and misfirings, of the human mind." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Oliver Sacks turns his formidable attention to music and the brain . . . He doesn't stint on the science . . . but the underlying authority of Musicophilia lies in the warmth and easy command of the author's voice." Mark Coleman, Los Angeles Times "His work is luminous, original, and indispensable . . . Musicophilia is a Chopin mazurka recital of a book, fast, inventive and weirdly beautiful . . . Yet what is most awe-inspiring is his observational empathy." American Scholar "Curious, cultured, caring, in his person Sacks justifies the medical profession and, one is tempted to say, the human race . . . Sacks is, in short, the ideal exponent of the view that responsiveness to music is intrinsic to our makeup. He is also the ideal guide to the territory he covers. Musicophilia allows readers to join Sacks where he is most alive, amid melodies and with his patients." Peter D. Kramer, The Washington Post "Readers will be grateful that Sacks . . . is happy to revel in phenomena that he cannot yet explain." The New York Times Book Review "The persuasive essays about composers, patients, savants, and ordinary people . . . offer captivating variations on the central premise that human beings are 'exquisitely tuned' to the illuminating yet ultimately mysterious powers of music." Elle "With the exception of Lewis Thomas, no physician has ever written better about his trade." Salon "A gifted writer and a neurologist, Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up." Newsweek From the Hardcover edition.
This item was reviewed in:
PW Annex Reviews, January 2008
New York Times Full Text Review, October 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language doeshumans are a musical species. Oliver Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. InMusicophilia,he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday peoplefrom a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven secondsfor everything but music. Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson's disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer's or amnesia. Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and inMusicophilia,Oliver Sacks tells us why.
Long Description
Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does--humans are a musical species. Oliver Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In "Musicophilia," he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people--from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds--for everything but music. Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson's disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer's or amnesia. Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and in "Musicophilia," Oliver Sacks tells us why.
Main Description
Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language doeshumans are a musical species. Oliver Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia,he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday peoplefrom a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven secondsfor everything but music. Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson's disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer's or amnesia. Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and in Musicophilia,Oliver Sacks tells us why.

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