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Publisher's Summary

Music is an integral part of humanity. Every culture has music, from the largest society to the smallest tribe. Its marvelous range of melodies, themes, and rhythms taps in to something universal. Babies are soothed by it. Young adults dance for hours to it. Older adults can relive their youth with the vivid memories it evokes. Music is part of our most important rituals, and it has been the medium of some of our greatest works of art.

Yet even though music is intimately woven into the fabric of our lives, it remains deeply puzzling, provoking questions such as: How and why did musical behavior originate? What gives mere tones such a powerful effect on our emotions? Are we born with our sense of music, or do we acquire it?

In the last 20 years, researchers have come closer to solving these riddles thanks to cognitive neuroscience, which integrates the study of human mental processes with the study of the brain. This exciting field has not only helped us address age-old questions about music; it also allows us to ask new ones, like: Do the brains of musicians differ from nonmusicians? Can musical training promote cognitive development? Is there a deep connection between music and language?

Join neuroscientist and professor of psychology Dr. Aniruddh Patel to probe one of the mind's most profound mysteries. Covering the latest research findings - from the origins of music's emotional powers to the deficits involved in amusia, or the inability to hear music - these 18 enthralling lectures will make you think about music and your brain in a new way.

Designed for music lovers and brain enthusiasts at all levels, Music and the Brain is truly interdisciplinary and assumes no prior background in neuroscience or music theory. Here is your unrivaled explanation of this marvelous gift.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2015 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2015 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Steven
  • Arizona, USA
  • 01-03-16

New Interesting Science

Would you listen to Music and the Brain again? Why?

Yes. There were many fascinating facts, and I don't remember them all. I love music, and want to understand it on every level.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Music and the Brain?

Humans have relative pitch perception, while most species have absolute pitch perception. That is why few people have perfect pitch, not just regular relative pitch perception. We perceive the octave, the fifth and other intervals because of that.

What does Professor Aniruddh D. Patel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Music must be heard. I have a thorough enough understanding of music, I may have understood by reading, but I greatly appreciated the auditory examples, especially the illusions.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I would say fascinated and amazed.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel_23
  • MIAMI, FL, United States
  • 05-19-16

Great content, awful editing

I really loved every bit of the content. The lectures are well prepared and careful designed so that the information is contextualized, arriving at the right time. However, I can't forgive the fact that the editing is just terrible. I know that people will make mistakes while reading, and that's where the editor comes in and fixes the audio. There are too many times where there are hiccups, words mispronounced and the flow stops; which could have been fixed beforehand. I hope the they receive enough complaints to make it right.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not the Best from the Great Courses

Expected something complex explained with clarity... as I have come to experience from the GC series. Got some complexity, not explained well, and not well organized. Very disappointing. Not one I recommend.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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This book is not about music and the brain.

This book is a boring discourse on evolution and has little to do with our brain and how music affects it. Would better be titled, "Our guess at how music evolved in our brains: An unproven work."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Meh.

I couldn't finish this lecture series. It was neat, but just not interesting enough to pull me to the finish line. I made it about 3/4 through and just gave up. I was waiting for it to get really good and it never did. I wouldn't recommend it, but I can't say it was awful. It was just not good enough.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Dry, passionless

Deathly dry delivery. Too much statistical information. Zero joy and power of music. Even the in-house compositions were expressionless. Mechanical delivery. Mechanical focus. Felt obliged to listen as is my career. Going to spend some sexy time with a Great Course Astrophysicist now and recuperate my joie-de-vivre!

32 of 46 people found this review helpful

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fascinating

a little dry sometimes, but over all very fascinating. worth a bit of your time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Boring and the science is very sketchy.

I was hoping for a better course but this just did not have many good details.

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So interesting!

This book is a "must read/listen"! We are learning so much about the brain and how it works to make us human. Music is such an important part of our humanity. Learn how music helps us with language and mental development. Music enriches our lives in so many ways!

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Great for composers, music lovers, and all!

Scientifically sound, and emotionally moving studies here. Try it out if your interested in movies.

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  • Jan W. H. Schnupp
  • 11-26-15

Clear intro to the neuroscience of music

Another reviewer described this audiobook as "passionless". To me that criticisms seems rather unfair, a bit like describing a nice juicy watermelon as not tasting meaty enough. I can imagine that if you turn to this audiobook looking for gripping musical entertainment then you might perhaps be a bit disappointed, but I don't think that is what the author was aiming to provide. If you are after a beautifully clear, accessible and quite comprehensive overview of the state of the art of brain research relating to music perception, then this among the best introductions you are likely to find. There are a number of other popular science titles relating to music on the market, e.g. Oliver Sacks' "musicophilia" or Levitin's "this is your brain on music", which might, for some, score higher on entertainment value, but the material covered in those books is very anecdotal and light-weight in comparison. Prof Patel's course, in contrast, is throughout firmly grounded in proper, quantitative and peer reviewed scientific research. If you want proper science, then this is the good stuff.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison
  • 12-05-15

Very engaging

If you could sum up Music and the Brain in three words, what would they be?

Intelligent, researched, flowing

What was one of the most memorable moments of Music and the Brain?

I was particularly engaged by the lecture concerning music & its effects on Alzheimer's & Parkinson's diseases. It is a line of research worth continuing.

Have you listened to any of Professor Aniruddh D. Patel’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, but I particularly enjoyed his enthusiasm for the topic and the fact that he explained quite complex theories about neurological pathways in a way that a complete novice (me) can understand and appreciate.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Probably not, it dealt with a lot of things that need digestion & reflection.

Any additional comments?

I not only love listening to music of all kinds, but now understand why it affects me on such an emotional level. Even now know why I get goosebumps!!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • MRS P L Bowler
  • 08-14-16

Fantastic and thorough

If you could sum up Music and the Brain in three words, what would they be?

Thorough, interesting, accurate

What other book might you compare Music and the Brain to, and why?

It goes along with Pinker, and all credible authors and academics who have explored the function of music in relation to human development

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, the bite size 30 minute lectures are perfect as time is needed to mull over the ideas and concepts taught

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • critical friend
  • 08-14-18

Need two devices or set-up to see as well as hear

The topic is fascinating and the lecturer is knowledgeable, citing his own research several times. The audio is better than just reading as music is an integral and necessary part of the experience.

So too, sadly is visual input because the lecturer refers several times to graphics and notation which you cannot access and integrate if driving or without ability to stop and look as well as listen.

The theses are developed from comparison of human musicality with other animals and its evolutionary advantage through brain or genetic defects that affect the ability to perceive music to possible practical applications underpinning brain plasticity.

Both those with science or arts backgrounds can benefit from the lessons and it is of particular relevance to educators, especially in the timing and inclusion of music instrumental playing as opposed to passive consumption. Because of the language/music links some of the ideas and techniques could be used in those with language or sequencing difficulties. The effect of culture and biology is also explored..

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  • The Mighty Pigeon
  • 04-02-18

Fantastic Audiobook

Bit slow at first, then it gets significantly deeper and better. The slowness I've perceived may be due to my education level and musical background, and I can see why this slowness may be necessary for the most listeners.

All in all, great stuff.

*****

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  • Sharon jeffrey
  • 04-12-16

interesting

hard to understand at times but some interesting view points and study with in the lectures.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • 10-28-15

Epiphany course

This clear, we'll sign-posted series of lectures explores why music and its practice is so important in human experience.
Theories behind its evolution are examined, practical applications in brain research explained and illustrated, and implications for the place of music, it study and practice presented.

It is a relevant, exciting and contemporary course.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-20-17

Interesting, Informative & free of jargon -however

This is an interesting, informative book and thankfully without jargon - the author reads it well and so it is also easy to listen to.

However, it was rather frustrating to see that this is a missed opportunity to include music outside the western classical music. I've just recently listened to The Practice of Practice by Johnathan Harnum and it was brilliant in including all kinds of musicians and all kinds of music in that book. Therefore, I do think the bar has been raised and it is disappointing that while the author talks about 'musicality' at the start of the book (and that is one the BIG reasons why music is so fascinating for us) but he doesn't really elaborate on those research and examples that are more universal.

Other than that, it was an enjoyable book and easy to listen and understand.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful