Thursday, August 03, 2006

Brains and Music

David J. Levitin, head of the Laboratory for Musical Perception, has written a book called "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" (article here), about the cognitive perception of what we call music. An interesting book on music - although he gives atonal music a hard time - and you can listen to him discussing the book here.


Blogger Daniel Levitin said...

Hi, Tim.

I didn't intend to give atonal music a hard time. What I hope (think?) I offered was an explanation for why some people have a hard time getting into it, and that comes down to a lack of exposure to it. People who appreciate atonal music tend to be more sophisticated listeners, and this sophistication can be learned.

Keep blogging!

Dan Levitin

4:50 PM  
Blogger Tim Risher said...

Hi, thanks for responding! I really enjoyed your discussion. I wasn't sure if you were really giving atonal music a hard time, but within the space of the Diane Rehm show I'm sure you didn't have the time to explain everything that was on your mind! I give atonal music enough of a hard time myself, although I certainly can appreciate it and even enjoy some of it. And I think a lot of the listening of music depends on familiarity as well. Kyle Gann, in his book "Music Downtown", relates an interesting story where people in the audience left during a performance of "Harmonielehre"; hardly an atonal work. It is because many listeners have an expectation of what they want to hear, and are shocked when they don't get those buttons pushed.

5:34 PM  

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