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The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature [Hardcover]

Daniel J. Levitin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book by Levitin, Daniel J.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars condition May 9 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have not had a chance to read yet, but would like to comment only on the condition of the book. It was in perfect condition and as I am reading the other book by same author, I am hoping that this will be as enjoyable.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
106 of 115 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsupported Assertions, Anecdotes and Puffery Jan. 19 2009
By Robert Carlberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Like many other reviewers here I was entranced by Levitin's first book, and eagerly dug into this new one expecting more of the same. What a disappointment! One is immediately put off by the constant name-dropping like "my good friend Joni Mitchell," "Sting confided to me..." and "when I was on-stage at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with Mel Tormé...."

Add to this the fact that Levitin makes a lot of non-obvious broad statements without offering any supporting evidence; for examples snapping fingers to music uses up cortisol (pg. 101), cavemen used songs to remember geography (pg. 108), it is more difficult to fake sincerity in music than in spoken language (pg. 141) and of course the "there are only six types of songs in the world" assertion of the title.

Finally, Levitin keeps derailing the book with long rambling personal stories, most of which have little if anything to do with his subject matter. Though amusing and humanizing they are a distraction and ultimately become another irritant.

There *is* a lot of good information in the book, and the reader learns a lot of interesting facts and ponderable hypotheses. Too bad the presentation is so obnoxious.
41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars nice try Oct. 19 2008
By Peregrino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed "This is Your Brain on Music" and anticipated a similar combination of witty, widely observed (pop, jazz, classical), and helpfully presented (science-for-non-specialists) material. All those qualities are present but distractingly encumbered by puffery (yes, yes, you lunch with rock stars and academic luminaries) and organization-by-digression. The dangers of first success? A timid editor? I'd wait for a revised edition.
65 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs in the key of life Aug. 24 2008
By Julie Neal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This fascinating book explores the powerful force music has played in shaping our common humanity. It's evolution, with a backbeat. Author Levitin makes the case that six basic types of songs have existed throughout the course of human history, all over the world. Mankind, apparently, shares a soundtrack.

The six broad categories of music are songs about friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion and love. Each has a different function, but all serve to bind us together. They make us stronger as a species.

Levitin, a musician and scientist, cites anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, neurosurgeons, psychologists, and many famous musicians in this book. He includes lyrics from a great range of songs, including "At Seventeen," "The Hokey Pokey," "I Walk the Line," "Twist and Shout," and "Log Blues" from Ren & Stimpy.

Music can be so evocative. A snippet of song can take you back to the exact moment you heard it in childhood or high school or whenever. It's like there is a direct link that exists in the human brain between music and memory.

This books tells us that Americans spend more money on music than they do on prescription drugs or sex, and the average American hears more than five hours of music per day. It's obviously important to us. After reading The World in Six Songs, you'll have a much better idea why.

Here's the chapter list:

1. Taking It from the Top or "The Hills Are Alive..."
2. Friendship or "War (What Is It Good For)?"
3. Joy or "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut"
4. Comfort or "Before There Was Prozac, There Was You"
5. Knowledge or "I Need to Know"
6. Religion or "People Get Ready"
7. Love or "Bring `Em All In"
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing May 4 2010
By Don65 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I thought the first and last third of Levitin's first book, "This is your brain on music" were excellent. The middle third was a bit slow. Unfortunately, all of "The World in Six Songs" is slow. The book is full of preposterous statements unsupported by anything other than wild speculation. The best parts are where he repeats information he shared in in his first book. The worst parts are the rambling personal anecdotes which have nothing whatsoever to do with the purported objective of the book.

Read "This is your brain on music" - avoid "The World in Six Songs."
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unreadable exercise in ego Feb. 8 2009
By Brian Tarbox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I keep trying to like this book, or even to get through another chapter but wading past the author's ego is just too hard. Is the best way to illustrate every point to mention that you just had lunch with Sting?

I'll grant the author's encyclopedic knowledge of songs but he insists on putting in the reader's face at every turn. Every point he makes reminds him of not one or two other songs but typically 10 or eleven other songs, which he lists, along with the fact that he's close personal friends with each of the authors.

You might think the premise of this book is the centrality of music to human evolution but the real point is to illustrate the centrality of the author's ego.
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