This Is Your Brain on Music Book Summary - This Is Your Brain on Music Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

This Is Your Brain on Music summary

Daniel Levitin

Understanding a Human Obsession

4.1 (91 ratings)
17 mins
Table of Contents

    This Is Your Brain on Music
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    When basic elements of sound combine in a meaningful way, it gives rise to music.

    What is music? While some people consider classical music the only “real” music, other people are adamant devotees of Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson. So, is it possible to come up with a general definition of music?

    Well, yes! We can define music as a meaningful combination of specific building blocks.

    As opposed to random noise, music has fundamental elements that come together to create meaningful relationships with one another.

    The most important of these fundamental elements are pitch, rhythm, tempo, contour, timbre, loudness and reverberation.

    Pitch answers the question “what note is that?” – it’s the only thing that changes during the first seven notes of the childrens’ song “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

    Rhythm involves the duration of a sequence of notes, and it is the only variance in the first seven notes of The Beach Boys’ hit “Barbara Ann.” Every note is sung at the same pitch.

    Tempo is the general speed of a piece, and contour refers to the overall shape of a melody – that is, whether a note rises or falls.

    Timbre concerns the tonal characteristics that distinguish one instrument from another when they are sounding the same note.

    Loudness is the amount of energy an instrument creates, and reverberation involves how far away from us we perceive the sound to be, or how large the room is in which the sound occurs.

    When we take all these attributes and combine them in a meaningful way, they give rise to higher-order concepts, such as melody, that form we perceive as music. We actually often think of music in terms of melody – the succession of tones we hear.

    Want to see all full key ideas from This Is Your Brain on Music?

    Key ideas in This Is Your Brain on Music

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is This Is Your Brain on Music about?

    In This is Your Brain on Music (2006), musician and neuroscientist Dr. Daniel J. Levitin illuminates exactly what happens in the brain when people listen to rhythms, timbres and pitches, helping us understand why we’re so profoundly affected by music.

    Best quote from This Is Your Brain on Music

    It is when the music begins that I start to cry.

    —Daniel Levitin
    example alt text

    Who should read This Is Your Brain on Music?

    • People curious about what happens in their brain when they listen to music
    • Anyone who wants to learn more about the relationship between psychology and music

    About the Author

    Daniel Levitin is a psychologist, neuroscientist, musician, record producer and best-selling author. As well as working as a professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at McGill University, in Montreal, Levitin has worked as a producer, sound designer and consultant for the likes of Chris Isaak, Steely Dan, and Stevie Wonder.

    Categories with This Is Your Brain on Music

    Books like This Is Your Brain on Music

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial