Music and the Mind: A Series

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series on Music and the Mind, based in part on Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. Sacks, the author of the book-turned-movie Awakenings, has explored the effects of music on the brain and recounts some remarkable stories – man struck by lightning who suddenly becomes a concert pianist; a child who has been plagued by music playing continuously in the head ever since the age of 7; and a sufferer of Tourette’s Syndrome who can find relief only while playing music.

We need music. And, as I’m hoping this blog can convey, we need good music. Over the last 500 years, Mozart’s symphonies have astounded us; some researchers even think they make us smarter. We have seen jazz, country and rock ‘n’ roll spring from the heartland of America and spread worldwide, igniting passions and nurturing future performers who continue to shape the genres through innovation and sometimes, imitation.

But what effect does this have on us? My hypothesis, of course, is that music helps us both intellectually and emotionally. How does it do that? I don’t know. I hope this book – and the subsequent series of postings – will help shed some light on it while giving you something to think about.

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