Music has played a decisive role in the evolution of the human brain and in the creation of civilization, and psychology has also played a prominent role. Grasping these concepts could be challenging, but not with the best type of teacher – one who’s quite cool and connected to the subject – a role that author and McGill University professor Daniel J. Levitin fits to a T. His career path included music production (resulting in his receiving several gold records) and music performances before he settled into academia. Levitin earlier authored This is Your Brain On Music. The World in Six Songs is his second book, an enlightening and entertaining work in which he combines his meaningful life experiences with music to illustrate each of the six songs (friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge and love).
The songs he has selected as examples represent a wide array of musical genres. Also quite interesting are the included discussions between Levitin and singer/songwriters/performers that he counts as friends/co-workers within the music industry – most notably Joni Mitchell and Sting. These elements have the combined effect of giving the reader a front-row seat in a well-orchestated learning session.
Be prepared to pay close attention while consuming this book. The payoff you will receive for this is certainly worth the extra bit of added effort.
Plume, $16.00, 358 pages
Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.