Book Review: The World in Six Songs
Book of the Month Recommendation: The World in Six Songs by Daniel Levitin (2008)
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What Amazon says:
Daniel J. Levitin’s astounding debut bestseller, This Is Your Brain on Music, enthralled and delighted readers as it transformed our understanding of how music gets in our heads and stays there. Now in his second New York Times bestseller, his genius for combining science and art reveals how music shaped humanity across cultures and throughout history.
Here he identifies six fundamental song functions or types—friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love—then shows how each in its own way has enabled the social bonding necessary for human culture and society to evolve. He shows, in effect, how these “six songs” work in our brains to preserve the emotional history of our lives and species.
Dr. Levitin combines cutting-edge scientific research from his music cognition lab at McGill University and work in an array of related fields; his own sometimes hilarious experiences in the music business; and illuminating interviews with musicians such as Sting and David Byrne, as well as conductors, anthropologists, and evolutionary biologists. The World in Six Songs is, ultimately, a revolution in our understanding of how human nature evolved—right up to the iPod.
What I say:
The World in Six Songs is a fun way to look at music through a utility lens instead of an artistic lens. When you think about music through the utility lens, you begin to consider its value in your daily life differently than thinking about it as art.
Music can be thought of in a purely aesthetic manner, and it can provide great value in that way, but what specifically does music help you do? You’ve prescribed yourself music your whole life… but why? What did it help with? In Dr. Levitin’s book, he seeks to make a case for six archetypal reasons for why you reach for music.
It’s a very clever portrayal, and is illuminating, if not as evidence-based as his first book. Research fans may be disappointed by the lack of research in comparison to his first book, but the way in which he looks at music in THIS book is COMPLETELY different than his first, and that’s the point.
Talk a walk through human history and watch how music has walked beside us, and perhaps in front of us.
CLICK HERE to check it out.