The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It

The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It

by Philip Ball


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From Bach fugues to Indonesian gamelan, from nursery rhymes to rock, music has cast its light into every corner of human culture. But why music excites such deep passions, and how we make sense of musical sound at all, are questions that have until recently remained unanswered. Now in The Music Instinct, award-winning writer Philip Ball provides the first comprehensive, accessible survey of what is known—and still unknown—about how music works its magic, and why, as much as eating and sleeping, it seems indispensable to humanity. Deftly weaving together the latest findings in brain science with history, mathematics, and philosophy, The Music Instinct not only deepens our appreciation of the music we love, but shows that we would not be ourselves without it. The Sunday Times hailed it as "a wonderful account of why music matters," with Ball's "passion for music evident on every page."

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199896424
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 07/01/2012
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Philip Ball is a freelance writer and the author of numerous books, including Universe of Stone: A Biography of Chartres Cathedral and Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads To Another, which won the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books.

Table of Contents

Author's Note

1. Prelude: The Harmonious Universe
An Introduction

2. Overture: Why We Sing
What is music and where does it come from?

3. Staccato: The Atoms of Music
What are musical notes and how do we decide which to use?

4. Andante: What's In a Tune?
Do melodies follow rules, and if so, which?

5. Legato: Keeping it Together
How do we decode the sound?

6. Tutti: All Together Now
How do we use more than one note at a time?

7. Con Moto: Slave to the Rhythm
What gives music its pulse?

8. Pizzicato: The Colour of Music
Why do instruments sound different, and how does that affect the music?

9. Misterioso: All In the Mind
Which bits of the brain do we use for music?

10. Appassionato: Light My Fire
How does music convey and elicit emotion?

11. Capriccioso: Going In and Out of Style
What are musical styles?
Is music about notes, or patterns, or textures?

12. Parlando: Why Music Talks to Us
Is music a language? Or is it closer to the non-verbal arts?

13. Serioso: The Meaning of Music
What are composers and musicians trying to say?
Can music in itself say anything at all?

Coda: The Condition of Music


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