Music, Language, and the Brain
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Music, Language, and the Brain

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  230 ratings  ·  9 reviews
In the first comprehensive study of the relationship between music and language from the standpoint of cognitive neuroscience, Aniruddh D. Patel challenges the widespread belief that music and language are processed independently. Since Plato's time, the relationship between music and language has attracted interest and debate from a wide range of thinkers. Recently, scien...more
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published December 7th 2007 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 5th 2007)
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The most impressive book on the subject I've read. Not an easy read and not for most readers, but the far ranging surveys of scientific studies makes a good case for the linking of music and language. My notes:

Octave & 5th very common
Most scales 5 - 7 notes
Most scale intervals between 1&3 semitones (2 common)
Most scales are asymmetric-exceptions are Whole tone(6) and Slendro(5)
Asymmetric scales help identify relation to tonic though cultural conditioning trumps in pattern recognition

"Linguistic and musical sound systems illustrate a common theme in the study of music-language relations. On the surface, the two domains are dramatically different. Music uses pitch in ways that speech does not, and speech organizes timbre to a degree seldom seen in music. Yet beneath these differences lie deep connections in terms of cognitive and neural processing. Most notably, in both domains the mind interacts with one particular aspect of sound (pitch in music, and timbre in speech) to cr...more
Kaitlyn Dennis
My first thought after finishing this: WHEW. What a mental workout. This took about a month and a half to get through, which, for a book that I was reading on a semi-daily basis throughout that, is a hell of a long time. Still, totally worth it.

Although it's not a pop science book, it's still accessible for those not in the field of neuroscience or linguistics. However, I'm not sure how readable or enjoyable this would be for someone without any exposure to general music theory and/or linguistic...more
An thorough, meticulous, nearly exhaustive review of the research on how the brain processes music and language. It's a tiring read, free of much one might call "style", but the chapter on Meaning masterfully pulls together the loads of information presented in the previous chapters. The book ends up being more suggestive than conclusive, but if you are interested in, for example, how the "music" of poetry is processed by the brain, this is the book for you.
Scott Miles
What an incredible resource! This book reads like a 520-page "Nature Reviews Neuroscience" paper, and a well-written one at that. Up-to-date, thorough, scientifically balanced, and intellectually bold, this is a volume that I hope will guide my own research for years to come.
Kalle Oskar
Patel's work is a dense study that musicians might understand, or neurobiologist might understand - at least in part. The Rhetorician doesn't quite get it. I'm working at understanding, but it is a difficult work. The struggle may be repaid sometime.
A scholarly study by a neuroscientist of core aspects of being human. Patel argues that language use arose via natural selection but the evidence on balance indicates that music and musical affinity are side-effects rather than direct effects of selection.
Feb 26, 2009 Sunlita marked it as to-read
Shelves: five-stars-books
Tough I really want to read this book, the price is quite expensive for me, so I should wait until I have a chance to buy this book. But from what I've read about this, it seems that this book's price is worthed to buy.
Everett Charters
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