Cover Image: Music, Math, and Mind

Music, Math, and Mind

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and Columbia University Press for the digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I am not a musician in any way shape or form, but I'm interest in music and specially how we perceive it. The first few chapters have a focus on music, how it works and some math involved (the math is pretty ok to follow). Then it talks about how we hear and what happens in our brain when we hear. At last it brings a bit about how other animals listen and their relation to music.

As the author states at the beginning, this is not exactly the kind of book you are going to fly through, you may want to read it slowly and even reread some parts. It is a well researched book and the author did a good job passing a lot of relevant and interesting information in the field to the reader.

What I really enjoyed was that the author at the end of each chapter suggests songs for us to listen that are related to the topics mentioned in that chapter.

If you are interested in music, give this one a try!
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Definitely not an easy read, but a cool explanation of how the mathematics behind music works, and how humans respond to it.
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This was a rewarding book about physics, acoustics, and the history of sound and music. As a music composition professor, I found this book engaging and creatively stimulating. I’m not sure that a reader with an average knowledge of music and acoustics would find it accessible, though. To get the most out of the book (for professionals and amateurs alike), queue up each chapter’s listening list before you begin to read, then stop and listen as you learn each new concept. The listening lists are a great idea, and listening to the examples while reading really enriches the experience! 

I was impressed with the diversity of musical examples (from prehistoric flutes all the way to Jacob Collier!), the confidence with mathematical equations, and the clarity of the writing and format. This book was both humbling and thoroughly informative. Strongly recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley and to Columbia University Press for the advance copy!
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My son and I enjoyed this book.  It’s a great book for the reference shelf and an asset for homeschooling.
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This is a fascinating, mind-opening dive at a very concrete intersection of art and science. I suspect this will be a read that will come to mind often, many years hence. It's an especially rare piece of work because the author clearly knows about every field he brings to the table and, pricelessly, knows how to convey the weaving of such wide-ranging content in an engaging way. Do not misunderstand me: this is not light reading. It is dense with information, standing maybe midway between popular science and college textbooks. It begins with a caffeinated refresher on your high school Physics: waveforms, cancellation and thereabouts. Biology comes along, making us glimpse not only the structure of our hearing equipment (from the ear to what's currently known about the brain) but also how the external waves travel and convert and eventually lead us to perceive where the sound is coming from... how loud it is... how rich and embellished we sense them to be. That we can possibly recognize and respond to rhythm, tuning and other elements, deriving sensations such as joy and building the capacity to follow along and add to what's being heard is nothing short of astonishing -- although usually taken for granted. You'll never take your ability to sing along for granted after this. Plus, the presentation extends to what's known about other animal species and their relationship to organized sounds, including what many of those species can do. A wide-world tapestry of music and music history envelops everything, and each chapter reveals many listening suggestions one can hunt on music services, YouTube and publicly-accessible recordings -- to further one's understanding of how deeply human and universal the language of music really is.

I rarely reread books these days, but will certainly circle back to this later on in my life. I wish to thank NetGalley for allowing me free access to the book in exchange for this review -- I could not possibly envision the journey I'd begin then!
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This book is basically an audiology course that you can audit.  Interesting content, but, as a musician, i knew the physics behind sound.  Personally, i was hoping for more about how we perceive music (aka music and the mind)
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This book was chock-full of very interesting information. As a musician, I was fascinated by learning more about the math and science behind my craft. The book was dense because of all of the information housed in it, so it is best read in multiple sittings. Sulzer makes the information pretty accessible and understandable. I especially loved the listening suggestions at the end of each chapter. They were very diverse and gave a great opportunity to hear the information from the chapter exemplified. I found this book to be absolutely fascinating!
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This is a good book for people who love music and math. However, it isn't that suitable for the ones who don't know at least the basic about these two subjects. Although I had a feeling the topics were being explained to someone who doesn't know anything about physics and music, there were time sit seemed like it touched on very complex topics out of nowhere. The parts where the "story" is explained and the parts with the technicalities don't seem to match up that well.. I also though it lacked a bit of storytelling. However, the premise of this book is very interesting. It just lacked orientation.
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I'm 20% into this book, and so far it's been about the mathematics of music—nothing about neuroscience or emotions or how non-human animals experience music. There's no storytelling in evidence, only a dry enumeration of facts. This is not what I expected based on the book description. Since the ARC has no automated table of contents, it's difficult to skip forward to see if it gets more interesting later. 

The sidebars interrupt the flow of the text, and there are a lot of them. This is a poor design for books intended to be read in the Kindle app. Maybe the published version is better. In the ARC, the sidebars interrupt the text mid-sentence to talk about something unrelated. I consider this to be disrespectful to ARC readers. This tends to be a problem with university presses—they don't have the formatting skills of the large publishers, and the ARCs are a mess. That's definitely in evidence here. 

In the introduction, the author says that no one needs this book, and so far I have to agree. IMO, the early chapters belong in an appendix. The content is encyclopedic, and should not be presented to a lay audience in this manner. The author and publisher should have done a better job of streamlining the subject matter to make sure readers *do* need this book. If you don't think I need this book, then why are you wasting my time? 

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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David Sulzer’s book, Music, Math and Mind is a uniquely multifaceted treatise on music. 
The author begins with the physics behind sound and why some sounds are more appealing than others which leads to the idea of music. This gem of a book examines the neuroscience behind music  - what happens in our brains when we listen to music and even delves into the question of whether music is appreciated by animals! The book is peppered with interesting sources of music to illustrate the points.
Music, Math and Mind will be a delight to anyone with an inquiring mind and a love for natural science or music. Thanks to NetGallery for providing a copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this book in electronic ARC. 

I've read enough to know I'll love this book, and that I'm certainly going to buy it for my musician-daughter. The explanations have a lovely resonance and I can tell how much David Sulzer loves his topic. I also think the book fills a unique and neglected niche in music appreciation. It's fascinating to read.

But the formatting of this e-ARC is such a chore, and it's getting so much in the way of my reading pleasure--and I do know for a fact that reading this book will be a pleasure--that I'm going to leave this "looks great, more of a review to follow" review here as a placeholder, and I'll not review on Goodreads or other platforms until I have the actual book in hand post-publication. I'm looking forward to it.
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Thank you to both NetGalley and Columbia University Press for providing me with an advance copy of David Sulzer's nonfiction work, Music, Math, and Mind, in exchange for an honest review. 

As a lover of all things music, I find it difficult to shy away from titles that mention the subject. My focus becomes so narrow the second that music enters the picture, that I completely glazed over the word in the title that describes my least favorite subject: math. 

Overall, however, the author does a great job explaining difficult concepts in a way that is accessible to readers. He even mentions in the intro that readers should use the table of contents as a guide to skip to chapters that discuss topics they are interested in and not to read the work as if it were a standard fiction novel. 

Although anyone can read this book, it definitely leans toward the heavier and drier end of the bookcase. I highly recommend it for musicians and math enthusiasts, but stay clear if you are not interested in any of the topics mentioned in the title.
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As the title suggests, this includes a lot of math. But it is accessible/understandable math. It is also highly academic (it is a university publisher, after all). But again, the info is written in an accessible and sometimes entertaining way. Nice use of images and illustrations, too. Highly recommended for those interested in music from a somewhat scientific standpoint. Interesting stuff.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
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David Sulzer, the neuroscientist, 'meets' Dave Soldier, the musician, to create one of the most interesting science books I've read so far.

However, as the author states, "this is not a 'pop science' book to be absorbed in a single reading", and he is right. It's very dense, with a lot of technical details, and those chapters are indeed to be reread if your interest is beyond than simple curiosity. It isn't my case, because I don't try to make or even understand music (I can't even sing a single note); I just enjoy hearing it, no matter the structure behind it.

But all the other facts related to sound, how it is perceived, what are the differences between humans and animals hearing, the path music took throughout history, its etimology, and many more, I have found to be extremely appealing.

There is a variety of topics from different fields which are related to sound and interconnected, such as physics, maths, biology, even astronomy, and the connection between them is fascinating.

It is not a light reading, but it compensates in being a very rewarding one for those who are avid for information.

One more thing: there are a lot of recommendations of songs and musical pieces as diverse as possible, from classical music to experimental ones, animal sounds and many, many others. Quite an experience to read about some musical tehnique and then listen to its exemplification.

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