Why Humans Love Music, and How It Works
Everyone loves music. But what exactly is it that really makes the music so immensely popular and have such an undeniable effect on us as individuals? In This definitive and sweeping look at the human capacity to create and enjoy music, Dr. Helen Thomas presents intriguing details about how we experience music and how we use it. This is a book I highly recommend reading if you are someone who loves music and is interested in understanding its various components – melody, rhythm, structure, and harmony – in a new light.
The book contains many interesting and humorous anecdotes about people like Hitler and Ginsberg, and it features interviews with some famous musicians. I especially enjoyed listening to conversations with Russian scientists who were discussing the brain function of birds and whales. In one case, the scientist said that whales have “words like love” in their brains, and that they use those words when they feel threatened. It made me laugh, and I liked the scientific jargon – it’s easy to get caught up in the exciting science behind things like brain functions and language.
Overall, the book is a fantastic primer on all of the elements of music. It seems to get across the point that music is a form of language, and that language itself is not just something we use to say things, but is a system of conventions and ways of ordering our world that allow us to communicate with each other. It makes you think about how language works, why it is structured that way, and why some cultures find it more convenient than others to use verbal means of communicating. It also describes how the public perception of these forms of communication has changed over time, and how people are starting to appreciate that fact instead of just ignoring it. In essence, this book serves as a wake-up call for many of us, as Americans and Europeans who are guilty of having been brainwashed into believing that music is just entertainment. The implications of that may be far reaching, and Dr. Zaltman provides us with the tools to really start thinking about how all of this relates to our day-to-day lives.