Musicophilia

Tales of Music and the Brain

Publisher: Vintage Canada
What goes on in human beings when they make or listen to music? What is it about music, what gives it such peculiar power over us, power delectable and beneficent for the most part, but also capable of uncontrollable and sometimes destructive force? Music has no concepts, it lacks images; it has no power of representation, it has no relation to the world. And yet it is evident in all of us–we tap our feet, we keep time, hum, sing, conduct music, mirror the melodic contours and feelings of what we hear in our movements and expressions.

In this book, Oliver Sacks explores the power music wields over us–a power that sometimes we control and at other times don’t. He explores, in his inimitable fashion, how it can provide access to otherwise unreachable emotional states, how it can revivify neurological avenues that have been frozen, evoke memories of earlier, lost events or states or bring those with neurological disorders back to a time when the world was much richer.
This is a book that explores, like no other, the myriad dimensions of our experience of and with music.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

A Bolt from the Blue: Sudden Musicophilia

Tony Cicoria was forty-two, very fit and robust, a former college football player who had become a well-regarded orthopedic surgeon in a small city in upstate New York. He was at a lakeside pavilion for a family gathering one fall afternoon. It was pleasant and breezy...
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READING GUIDE

1. In the preface Sacks presents differing views on the origins and evolution of the music instinct. On first reading, which explanation is the most persuasive? Did the book change or confirm your opinion?

2. Discuss the style and structure of Musicophilia. How does Sacks blend personal anecdotes, case...

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PRAISE FOR

“Oliver Sacks is that rare creature, a respected man of science who is also a mean storyteller.”
Toronto Star


From the Hardcover edition.