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Download This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession Audiobook, by Daniel J. Levitin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (12,870 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Daniel J. Levitin Narrator: Edward Herrmann Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2007 ISBN: 9781429586917
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In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music, its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it, and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

  • How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world
  • Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre
  • That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise
  • How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our head

Taking on prominent thinkers who argue music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Levitin engagingly weaves together strands of his own life as a professional musician (who dropped out of college to form a band) with those of his transformation into a neuroscientist.”

    Scientific American

  • “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.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • I know Dan to have a deep musical knowledge and strong intellect combined with a warm spirit and a big heart. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music . . . He is a fine writer and has the ability to make difficult concepts very clear. STEVIE WONDER
  • “Endlessly stimulating, a marvelous overview, and one which only a deeply musical neuroscientist could give…An important book.”

    Oliver Sacks, M.D.

  • “Levitin is a deft and patient explainer of the basics for the non-scientist as well as the non-musician…By tracing music’s deep ties to memory, Levitin helps quantify some of music’s magic without breaking its spell. ”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Science & Technology

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lorie | 2/14/2014

    " i learned more about the functionality of the brain from this musician / cognitive scientist than i did when i was heartily studying cognition in 2004-2005 with respect to ADHD. good stuff in here. helps me understand why music moves so many of us the way it does. the language of my soul...not sure i buy all of the evolutionary theory levitin holds though, he really goes out on a limb there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stew | 1/31/2014

    " If you love music or even are interested in dance, how we communicate, how chuildren respond in the womb, and a myriad of related topics, you will likely be fascinated by this book which (to greatly simplify it) attempts to explain how we respond to music, why it is so important to socities for so long, etc. Levitin relates music to language, movement, opioid rushes, and even sex and "mating displays" . Levitin is brilliant--not only in his knowledge (which stretches over a large number of subjects--which he manages to inter-relate) but also in his ability to make some very complicated concepts accessible (by and large) to the average reader. He discusses music in terms of almost every conceivable type of artist--and seems to know the Stones' stuff as intimately as classical, or Santana. This is a DENSELY packed book--I appreciated it more by reading only a few pages at a time. But it is an absolutely original book, which will open your eyes (and ears) to something so fundamental and critical to our lives (music), but that most of us have never been able to get our arms around, no less put into words. A brilliant work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jordan Wood | 1/28/2014

    " So technically, I didn't read this. I opted for the audiobook after nearly picking the paper version for years. The primary reason for doing so was that I saw it included audio samples. Granted, there weren't any original recordings of the songs he wrote about, but it was easier to stay engaged when a watered down musical clip helped serve as a demonstration. To whatever point was being addressed. Good information and entertaining anecdotes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephenstomps | 1/24/2014

    " After a life of teaching and performing music, this book helped me break through to new and deeper understandings. This is such an important book which explain the power of music on the structure of the human brain For instance, the concept of "Chunking" is at the core of they way the brain can store a great deal of information in one plac for instantaneous recall and use.. "Okay, eight bar blues in Eb on Take Me Out to the Ball Game, I'll start, 1234"....will illicit hours of music. That little bit of information calls up a lifetime of knowledge and a musician doesn't even have to deal with each individual component. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debby | 1/23/2014

    " Dense reading. Some wonderful clear explanations of music structure as well as an exploration of the emotional impact and value of music to humans. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy Collins | 1/20/2014

    " Fascinating! A great mixture of science, psychology and music. The author does a great job explaining complicated music and science topics in easy to understand language. A must read for lovers of music or the brain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Federico | 12/29/2013

    " Good book, the author tends to be repetitive and the content is not always easy. Nonetheless reading this book was a good experience "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hadrian | 12/11/2013

    " Some concepts too simplified and made too 'pop-science', but some of the conclusions drawn were excellent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joan | 10/7/2013

    " Some interesting theories about how the brain reacts to music, but the writing is a little too technical at times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mareklamo | 8/10/2013

    " I got distracted reading other books so it took me forever to finish the last two chapters. I should have put this book in the bathroom to finish it sooner! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonas Heide | 7/18/2013

    " Has fascinating nuggets, but the structure is a complete mess with personal history, intellectual discovery, science history and music theory unsuccesfully wowen together. Readable and interesting at times but I was left thinking that there must be superior alternative takes on the subject. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 5/17/2013

    " Music appreciation can be taught, skill can be learned but mastery is dependant upon genetics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christian | 4/17/2013

    " I'm actually only partway through this, as I got distracted, but plan to finish it. Fascinating insights from the leading edge of brain, cognitive, and psych research into what music actually is and why we love it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jakes | 3/15/2013

    " Music and the brain. Super excited on this one "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ashleigh Hebert | 12/23/2012

    " So interesting. The psychology, physicology, and sociology of music. The point I remember best is that the complexity of the music you like is tied to how you think. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristin White | 11/20/2012

    " This book is sooo technical that its a tough one to read, but very interesting none-the-less. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy C | 10/2/2012

    " Whoever said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture was right. But this book did have some insights I found interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra West | 9/3/2012

    " Fascinating information on the neurological reasons for the human reaction to music. A bit of a tough read if you are musically impaired (like me!) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gregory Dudzienski | 7/8/2012

    " The chapter on "What makes a musician" was especially insightful! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carlye.peterson | 2/22/2012

    " this book is amazing so far...can't wait to finish it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin Kinnevy | 8/8/2011

    " Some of the concepts are not the easiest to grasp, but the effort is well worth it, especially for the music lover. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 7/28/2011

    " This was pretty interesting. Though I'm generally opposed to abridgments, I really liked having this as an audio book because the audio examples were very helpful. I particularly liked the final disk which discussed the development of musical ability from the womb through life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 6/23/2011

    " A fascinating read. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on musicians' brains. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 6/11/2011

    " "Life is dangerous; there are a lot of opportunities to get whacked in the head and potentially lose some brain function" (180-81)
    "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dennis | 6/8/2011

    " Ugh, couldn't even finish it. The first chapter was interesting but its just so dense, and I am both familiar with music and biology. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 5/19/2011

    " Liked it, but very science-based. The parts I could follow were really good. Skimmed a good chunk of it.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 5/4/2011

    " Another one I finished during "TAKS Testing" week. Gotta be a band director, musician, or serious nerd (or all three) to get into this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Derek | 4/19/2011

    " Very interesting but different than I anticipated. More of a psychology or science book than a book for music lovers. "

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About the Author
Author Daniel J. Levitin

Daniel J. Levitin, PhD,is dean of social sciences at the Minerva Schools at KGI in San Francisco and a faculty member at the Center for Executive Education in the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of This Is Your Brain on Music, The World in Six Songs, The Organized Mind, and A Field Guide to Lies.

About the Narrator

Edward Herrmann (1943–2014) was one of America’s top audiobook narrators. He won multiple Earphones and Audie Awards, and his narration of the King James version of the Bible remains a benchmark in the industry.