I don’t usually read books just on the basis of advertising, so I first checked with my colleague the music teacher before I decided to read the new book with such intriguing ads: Daniel J. Levitin’s This is Your Brain on Music. My colleague’s enthusiastic recommendation confirmed me in my inclination to go ahead. After all, combining neuroscience with music? How much more interesting could you get? Or was I just setting myself up for disappointment?
The quick answer is no, I wasn’t. Despite being a bestseller on the New York Times non-fiction list, This is Your Brain on Music is well worth reading. As a neuroscientist with a background as a musician, sound engineer, and producer, Levitin is the perfect person to write a popularization of the intersection between music and brain science. My only complaint is that I would have welcomed greater depth, but then it wouldn’t be a popularization, would it? You’ll learn something about the anatomy and physiology of the brain, something about music theory, a smattering about the psychology of sound, and a lot about the connections among all of them. And if you’re hungering for greater depth, the 29 pages of annotated bibliography will satisfy your hunger. So read it!