Download Musicophilia (Abridged): Tales of Music and the Brain Audiobook

Musicophilia (Abridged): Tales of Music and the Brain Audiobook, by Oliver Sacks Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Oliver Sacks Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Random House Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2007 ISBN: 9780739357408
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (14,758 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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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. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • 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

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 2/20/2014

    " A collection of essays, illuminating the connection of music with the mind, and how those connections are revealed in the various patient pathologies - in short, a fascinating read from Oliver Sacks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Afshin | 2/17/2014

    " Anyone who is interested in music and science this book is it.... I really liked it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colleen | 2/16/2014

    " I love this book so far!! Margin notes are sprawling! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yvonne | 2/9/2014

    " Fascinating tidbits of information that remind me of myself for some things! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 2/7/2014

    " There's just so much interesting stuff in this book!!! I love Oliver Sacks!!!!! I especially love how he writes so compassionately about the people he sees. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natasha | 2/5/2014

    " Pretty interesting. It is fascinating to see how the brain works and how it can be damaged. There were too many stories, which made the stories run into each other. It would have been better to stick with one or two stories per chapter. Still a good book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel | 1/24/2014

    " This was a very interesting book, but I think he could have had a better editor. While each case study was fascinating on its own, and the conclusions drawn from the cases were very thoguht-provoking, it was exhausting get through this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eric | 1/18/2014

    " No real insight just a lot of case studies and a well read researcher following each one with "isn't that interesting" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Neeka | 1/17/2014

    " I just love Oliver Sacks! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 12/27/2013

    " I was looking forward to some keen insights, but instead found this to be pretty underwhelming. Some interesting case studies, but it rarely transcends the anecdotal. It stays on the shelf for its bibliography. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Magda | 12/25/2013

    " It is as if identity has such a robust, widespread neural basis, as if personal style is so deeply ingrained in the nervous system, that it is never wholly lost, at least while there is still any mental life present at all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nikki | 12/22/2013

    " Very interesting information on the effects/interactions of music on the brain. Lots of bizarre anecdotes from his experience as a neurologist. It confirms what I have always believed, that there is something DIVINE about music and the relationship it has with humanity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 12/11/2013

    " Absolutely fascinating and engagingly written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jelke | 11/21/2013

    " Good book though at some point i got a bit bored with the endless examples. A typical American approach that works excellent... for the first half of the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kenny | 4/22/2013

    " I guess I thought this book would be more about why we love music...from a psychological point of view. In reality, it's more a collection of case studies where people's brains are damaged and they lose/gain certain abilities related to music... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ilya | 4/18/2013

    " interesting stories, but i think the unifying theme is a little too weak. it would have been great to get at least some hypotheses of why music hold such an important place in the brain, and how the cases may or may not support the hypothesis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexis | 4/4/2013

    " Very interesting case reports of various music-related brain disorders. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 3/25/2013

    " like this so far...I hope I get struck by lightening and become musical! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michale | 12/10/2012

    " Loved Oliver Sacks' new compilation of case studies, especially the postscript to "Accidental Davening". The writing is crisp and intelligent and suffused with Sacks' delight in discovering new permutations of brain disfunction. am I the only person who wishes to experience synesthesia? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 m. | 8/28/2012

    " see now here, we get to put that giant brain of his to a less horror-inducing use -- really love this book, makes me wish i came from a time when a rigorous education in classical music was the norm, and not the esoteric... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Margaret | 8/21/2012

    " Fascinating anecdotes of musical anomalies in neurological cases. From perfect pitch to musical hallucinations to lightning strikes and brain damage, the power of our musical intelligence is astounding! "

About the Author

Oliver Sacks (1933–2015) was the author of more than a dozen books, including The Mind’s Eye, Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings, which inspired both the Oscar-nominated film and a play by Harold Pinter. The New York Times has referred to him as “the poet laureate of medicine,” and he was a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. He lived in New York City, where he was professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine for many years.

About the Narrator

Simon Prebble, a British-born performer, is a stage and television actor and veteran narrator of some three hundred audiobooks. As one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices, he has received thirty-seven Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie in 2010. He lives in New York.