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Why does a clarinet play at lower pitches than a flute? What does it mean for sounds to be in or out of tune? How are emotions carried by music? Do other animals perceive sound like we do? How might a musician use math to come up with new ideas?
This book offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music in a way that readers without scientific background can follow. David Sulzer, also known in the musical world as Dave Soldier, explains why the perception of music encompasses the physics of sound, the functions of the ear and deep-brain auditory pathways, and the physiology of emotion. He delves into topics such as the math by which musical scales, rhythms, tuning, and harmonies are derived, from the days of Pythagoras to technological manipulation of sound waves. Sulzer ranges from styles from around the world to canonical composers to hip-hop, the history of experimental music, and animal sound by songbirds, cetaceans, bats, and insects. He makes accessible a vast range of material, helping readers discover the universal principles behind the music they find meaningful.
Written for musicians and music lovers with any level of science and math proficiency, including none, Music, Math, and Mind demystifies how music works while testifying to its beauty and wonder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Sulzer is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pharmacology at Columbia University Medical Center. His laboratory has made important contributions to the study of brain mechanisms involved in autism, Parkinson’s disease, drug addiction, and learning and memory. He is also a composer and performer under the stage name Dave Soldier and has worked with many major figures in the classical, jazz, and pop worlds, appearing on over one hundred records. Some of his projects bridge music and neuroscience, including the Thai Elephant Orchestra, an orchestra of fourteen elephants in northern Thailand, and the Brainwave Music Project, which uses EEGs of brain activity to create compositions.
"This is an amazing book. Readers will come back to it again and again for its clear explanations, breadth of content and “listening” advice. It includes a chapter on nonhumans, acknowledging that the sophisticated production and perception of music is not limited to humans. It is accessible to all readers but does not shy away from the direct presentation of science – it gives the reader things that anyone interested in this topic needs to begin to think about. It raises important philosophical questions while allowing the readers to gain the skills to explore these questions for and stops there – giving the reader the chance to pursue or ignore. "
--Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, primatologist and psychologist, specialist in communication by bonobos
"When your band protests “Whaddaya mean ‘dynamics’? I’m playing as loud as I can!”—- turn him onto the solid matter in Music, Math, and Mind. As to Soldier’s confection? A ribald reality check on what makes music matter, and why we should mind. "
--Van Dyke Parks, performer / arranger / producer / composer / lyricist (the Beach Boys)
"Musicians shouldn’t be intimidated by the title of the book by David Sulzer, Music, Math, and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music. This is a book that any musician or music fan will find both enjoyable and educational. The questions regarding the science, biology and math related to music are made easily understandable and the book is grounded in David’s passion for both creating and enjoying music. At the end, anyone reading this book will have a greater appreciation for the creative spirit and a way to understand music in even deeper ways. "
--Bob Neuwirth, singer-songwriter and record producer
"It is rare that one finds a book where on opening any page, one is drawn to read on and… to read back. Every page has a story, every page a fascinating connection between the universal joy we find in music and some biological or mathematical fact. Here is the place to find out about the way crickets make music, and the McGurk effect! The science comes along gently, never intimidating. Only a neurobiologist who is a master composer and musician could have written this wonderful book! "
--Roald Hoffmann, chemist and writer
"If you think you love music as much as you possibly could, think again. Music, which is so hard to define, and which connects to everything, has yet to reveal every level of its joy to you. This book will help you experience music as an animal, a neural pathway, or a mathematical principle. "
--Jaron Lanier, writer / computer scientist / musician