Monday, November 19, 2007


Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Oliver Sacks; Knopf, 381 pages, $25

From a review by Scott LaFee: His latest book, Musicophilia, [focusses] upon a subject that his clearly close to Sacks' own heart and mind: the relationship between music and the brain.

Here too are the expected (and yet somehow unexpected) case histories: the woman who suffers spasms whenever she hears songs that remind her of childhood; the psychoanalyst who has hallucinations of a singing rabbi and the surgeon struck by lightning who becomes obsessed with Chopin.

Sacks talks too about people for whom music offers no attraction at all, a condition called amusia in which melody, harmony and rhythm are nothing more than “plinking noises” and “an arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds.”

Some of these “amusiacs” are quite well-known. Among them: Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Vladimir Nabokov, William James and Ulysses S. Grant.

Comment on this post: NewFrontEars

No comments: