The music instinct : how music works and why we can't do without it /

The Music Instinct Philip Ball provides the first comprehensive, accessible survey of what is known--and what is still unknown--about how music works its magic, and why, as much as eating and sleeping, it seems indispensable to humanity. --from publisher description

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Main Author: Ball, Philip, 1962-
Format: Book
Published:Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2010.
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Review by Booklist Review

This book basically concerns itself with music theory pitch, timbre, melody, harmony, rhythm, musical styles with the added boost of exploring music's effect on its listeners, which at times can be as joyless as the deconstruction of humor. Still, Ball draws on enough current musical theory and cites enough good musical examples, across time and national borders, to offer engaging ideas: for example, that there is a deep syntax to music, that we listeners are far more musical than we ever knew (and in more complex ways), that context is essential in determining how we hear music, which explains why a listener from one country might not respond immediately to the music of another. The result is a book that could expand not only readers' thinking about music's effects but also their enjoyment and appreciation of music beyond their usual comfort zone. A helpful Web site of music samples is promised.--Moores, Alan Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Polymath Ball (Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another) adds to his wide-ranging list of titles with this fascinating, densely packed discourse on ways music interacts with the human brain. Using examples from the Renaissance up to the present day, he explores elements of musical structure such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre with an ear to how the listener perceives the music. The writing flows well, considering the challenge of combining research by leading experimental psychologists with exponents of music's theoretical underpinnings. Ball's notion of music as a "gymnasium for the mind" exemplifies the mental activity needed to understand this art form, while its emotional appeal can be a "direct route to the core of our shared humanity." Illustrations, written musical examples, and a website for listening to them are particularly helpful. The extensive bibliography includes both classic treatises and recent articles. VERDICT Likely to appeal to readers with a thorough grounding in the basics of music, Ball does not eschew controversy with his strong opinions.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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