Brandon's Notepad

May 30, 2014

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Filed under: Book Reviews — Brandon @ 3:31 pm
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Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
This is a short review of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, written by Dr. Oliver Sacks, narrated by John Lee.

Once in a while, I pick up a book at the library that covers a topic outside of my normal areas of interest and I force myself to read it. I do this to branch out, to learn something completely new. This exercise is much less painful (and believe me, it can be painful) when I listen to a recording of these sorts of books during my commute. Sometimes I don’t even read the jacket, only the title, and thereby break that golden rule about judging a book by its cover. This is one of those books.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks discusses musical disorders in patients with autism, dementia, Parkinsonism, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other afflictions. The range of such disorders is wide. Some patients experience an onset of tone deafness and lose all interest in music, whereas others gain perfect pitch or may become musically inclined. Still others who suffer from chronic memory loss are able to sing or play music as well as they always had, and those whose conditions leave them in a mesmerized state can become animated at the sound of music. Hallucinations can be auditory as well as visual. Sacks covers all of these and more by relating firsthand experiences with his own patients as well as stories from professional correspondents.

I enjoyed this book, even though it was very dry at times. I will admit that if I had picked up the paper version and not the audiobook, I probably would not have finished it. I know someone whose daughter is entering the field of music therapy, and I’m sure this information will come in handy in conversation someday. The narrator does a wonderful job. It helps that his voice ‘fits’ the picture of Sacks on the cover. If you are looking for something different, you may want to give this one a try.

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