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Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination (Anglais) Broché – 1 avril 2008

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Biographie de l'auteur

When not writing about science and technology, Robert Jourdian plays the piano and composes. MUSIC, THE BRAIN, AND ECSTASY is his sixth book. He livesin Mendocino, California.

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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 400 pages
  • Editeur : William Morrow Paperbacks (1 avril 2008)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 038078209X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380782093
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,3 x 2,3 x 20,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Par silveira sur 5 septembre 2010
Format: Broché
il y a des recherches plus récentes que cela... mais le livre est très importante aussi...
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129 internautes sur 133 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Science In The Arts 1 juin 2002
Par disco75 - Publié sur
Format: Broché
It is interesting to read the previous reviews of this book; so many people seem to have ignored the author's explicit caveats that he is mostly discussing Western cultivated music 1) because that is the music he is most familiar with, 2) because that is the music most researched with regard to his topic of brain response, and 3) because Westerners do not have adequate vocabulary or understanding of other musical endeavors, such as the polyrhythms of Western African music. He is very clear that some African music has a long tradition of developing rhythm in its performances, rhythm that Western art music has virtually ignored in favor of certain types of harmonic and structural inventions. Because he sets out his perspective so clearly, I don't find it fair to criticize the author for not providing what a reader might hope for in a book.
The writing is well-constructed; the author uses everyday language to describe complex and scientific information. His use of the Pink Panther theme as an example for the various topics is a helpful one. He does provide a great level of detail about brain function, the science of sound, perceptual processes, and other expert facts that can overwhelm the reader. He also seems to get lost in the forest of science at the expense of the phenomenological experience of enjoying music. There is, in fact, little discussion of the ecstasy in the title. There is far more Brain than Music or Ecstasy in this volume. It is, nevertheless, a well-written book that serves as a condensation of past writings on the topic and an invitation for further explorations of human reactions to music.
95 internautes sur 101 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Powerful and profound 28 janvier 2006
Par Paul Castonguay - Publié sur
Format: Broché
As a new student of music I was filled with questions. Why exactly did we humans (unlike animals) evolve to appreciate music? What survival benefit could it have provided? And how exactly does music give us pleasure? What is really going on in the body when a great piece of music touches our inner soul to the point of giving us goose bumps? Unfortunately I found teachers and peers not only devoid of answers to such questions, but completely unreceptive to them. Many people are even hostile towards such questions. I felt surrounded by automatons content only with pushing levers and petals on their instruments, completely disinterested in the exact nature of what they were doing. I find such people devoid of one of the most important instincts that supposedly separates us from the animal kingdom, high curiosity.

Robert Jourdain's book, Music, the Brain and Ecstasy, was exactly what I needed to read. He explains how the origin of music appreciation in humans is a consequence of the evolution of speech to improve social interaction, which has survival advantage. He explains how pleasure in music is a consequence of a series of deviations from a tonal center (usually the tonic note or triad of the key in which the music is composed), which introduces conflict in the brain, followed by a return to the tonal center, which provides satisfactory resolution. He explains how such conflict and resolution can be composed into four different aspects of music: rhythm, melody. phrase, and harmony. Ecstasy is achieved when resolution is provided after a conflict has reached the limit in tonal space and time of the listener's comprehension ability. Throughout the book he supports his presentation with real, physical phenomena within the body, mostly within the brain. The presentation seems very valid scientifically. Personally, I think he makes fools out of the teachers, musicians, and friends with whom I have been associating.

Some previous reviewers have been harsh, but I believe them to be out of context. For example, one gave the following quote from the book:

"Almost anything that can be said in Arabic can be faithfully translated into Chinese or Finnish or Navajo."

The reviewer claimed that this would be considered erroneous by any anyone who has ever worked on language translation. I myself am bilingual (English and French), and I believe that although there is some truth to this reviewer's opinion when it comes to the fine nuances of different languages, his comment is entirely out of context and blown out of proportion. In the book Robert Jourdain is referring to the accuracy of all languages to construct simple statements accurately. A sentence like, "On your way home, please go down to the corner store and pick up a loaf of bread." (I made up that sentence myself to make my point) Such a simple statement can be said in almost any human language where bread, home, and corner store have meaning. In contrast, music cannot be composed to deliver such exact meaning. Music produces emotional responses, but it is not possible to accurately define an exact message. Jourdain even suggests that Debussy's La Mere (The Sea) conjures up thoughts of the actual sea most probably as a consequence of its title. Had Debussy called the piece something else, like "The Storm", or "The Wind", or "The Final Salvation of Mankind", people would willingly accommodate by claiming that the music conjured up such images as well. My feeling is that this reviewer, like many people, is too caught up trying to prove what he thinks he knows about a subject rather than listen openly to what the author is really saying. Yes, there are differences in the accuracy of different languages. I myself do prefer to read certain novels in French rather than their English translations. It's not that the translations are inaccurate on the whole, but mostly because the text flows better in the original language. And yes, there are often fine nuances, mostly cultural, that do get lost in translation, but it is not often enough to cause a complete breakdown in meaning . But give me a break, that is not what Robert Jourdain was talking about. The key to the author's intent is the first word of the above quote: "Almost". Almost means almost.

Another reviewer complained that the book was too much about the brain rather than music. Well, where in the body does that person figure music appreciation occurs, if not the brain? Surely a complete explanation of music appreciation must be more about the brain than anything else?

Another reviewer complained that the book read too much like a textbook and is therefore uninteresting. Excuse me? Where exactly do we all learn the most interesting concepts in life if not from textbooks? Yes, it is a difficult read. I had to read it twice, and believe me, on the second reading I learned a tremendous amount. But that is not a disadvantage. That is exactly what makes the book great.

Throughout the book Robert Jourdain reminds the reader of how music challenges the brain and that without a certain mental capacity on the part of the listener much music cannot be appreciated. I myself learned this lesson in the world of chess. Without a certain mental capacity, certain people are simply not capable to playing great chess, no matter how hard they try. I was forced to give up chess competition because I did not possess the mental skills to achieve the rating (level of play) that I aspired to. Perhaps the same thing could be said about Robert Jourdain's book. Unless you possess a certain minimum mental capacity, and unless you take the time to read him carefully and apply your mental capacity to what you read, you will probably be unable to appreciate much of what he has to say.

I myself cannot say that this is one of the greatest books ever written on the subject. I am just a beginning music student and I have not yet read very widely. And I'm sure I will learn further in my education that Robert Jourdain is not the final word on music. Also, I suspect that he himself did not originate much what he has presented. That's perfectly valid. The book has a bibliography. The important thing for me is that at my point in life, this book was like a bolt of lightning awakening me to a whole new world that was unknown to me, a world that remains unknown to others around me who I would expect would know better but who lack the curiosity or perhaps the mental skills. After reading this book I find I am more willing to accept music theory as it is presented to me (as a set of unquestionable strict rules) without being plagued by nagging doubts about their meaning or validity. And I find that now I cannot study or listen to music, or work on my piano practice without thinking about this book in some way. It has affected me profoundly.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is genuinely curious about the nature of music and is frustrated by a world filled with phony intellectuals who try to suppress true curiosity with blind faith in rules that they are unable to properly validate. This book attacks the subject of music appreciation head on from a scientific point of view and carries a real and enlightening message.
28 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Why does music move us so deeply? 25 juillet 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Why does music us so deeply? In Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures our Imaginations, Robert Jourdain explores how music enables people "to attain a greater grasp of the world (or at least a small part of it), rising from the ground to look down upon the confining maze of ordinary existence." (p. 331) Most of us experience this transcendence while listening to music at some time in our lives and we are fascinated to learn that it is a universal, human experience.
Jourdain makes a complex subject comprehensible to lay persons. In the early chapters of his book, he lays the groundwork for his discussion of music in the middle chapters.
In the first chapter, he draws on biology, physiology, and neuroscience to tell us how our ears and our brains evolved and how they work. Here's his version of how we hear. "Music slams into an eardrum at the end of the ear canal and abruptly changes costume. Until this point it has traveled as a press! ure wave through air; now it proceeds as mechanical motion. Just beyond is the air-filled middle ear, where three odd-shaped bones, the ossicles, are strung from ligaments so that the eardrum pushes against the first (the malleus, or "hammer"), which yanks at the second (the incus, or "anvil"), which shoves the third (the stapes, or "stirrup") into an opening to the fluid-filled inner ear where neurons (nerve cells) await. Just like the air molecules that have transported music to the eardrum, these minuscule bones vibrate in a complex pattern that at any instant embodies every frequency contained in every note." (p. 8)
In the second chapter, Jourdain draws on physics to explain how sound becomes musical tone. He explains the concept of overtones so that you don't need a background in physics or in music to understand it. And better yet, he tells you how you can learn to hear musical overtones yourself. "You can sit at a piano and! strike a note at the midrange (of the keyboard), then soft! ly play the note at an octave above, which is the first overtone. When you play the first note again, your brain will know where to look for the overtone. Some people claim to be able to pick out a dozen overtones this way, but you're doing well if you manage just a few." (p. 35)
After he explains musical tone, Jourdain launches into the real topic of the book--how music captures our imagination. At this point, he tells us more than most people will want to know.
In the middle chapters, Jourdain surveys the elements of music-melody, harmony, and rhythm-and overviews composition and performance before he discusses listening, understanding, and ecstasy in the last chapters. The musical explanations are technically accurate (Jourdain himself is a pianist and a composer) but they are easier to read if you already have a background in music theory. If you don't, you may want to skip to the final chapter.
Jourdain livens up his scientific and musical explanations ! with entertaining stories about composers and performers. Did you know that Franz Liszt, the 19th century composer, pianist, and conductor, saw colors in his mind's eye when he heard music? He experienced a "rare phenomenon called color hearing, (in which) the senses become crossed and every musical sound is shadowed by colorful, formless visual imagery. And so, Liszt would instruct an orchestra, 'Please gentlemen, a little bluer if you please. This key demands it.'" (p. 326)
If you're one of those people who are hypersensitive to noise, did you know that you are not alone in this? Jourdain relates that loud noise made the infant Mozart sick and that Handel would not go into a concert hall until after the instruments had been tuned. He tells us that the Germans have a word for this hypersensitivity to sound-they call it, Horlust, meaning roughly "hearing passion," and that "superior musical neurology may manifest itself as an excruciating sens! itivity to sound." (p. 188)
In the last chapter, ! Jourdain explains why listening to music can move people to ecstasy. "Many people say that it is beauty alone that draws them to music. But great music brings us even more. By providing the brain with an artificial environment, and forcing it through that environment in controlled ways, music imparts the means of experiencing relations far deeper than we encounter in our everyday lives. When music is written with genius, every event is carefully selected to build the substructure for exceptionally deep relations. No resource is wasted, no distractions are allowed. In this perfect world, our brains are able to piece together larger understandings than they can in the workaday external world, perceiving all-encompassing relations that go much deeper than those we find in ordinary experience...It's for this reason that music can be transcendent. For a few moments, it makes us larger than we really are, and the world more orderly than it really is. We respond not just to! the beauty of the sustained deep relations that are revealed, but also to the fact of our perceiving them. As our brains are thrown into overdrive, we feel our very existence expand and realize that we can be more than we normally are, and that the world is more than it seems. That is cause enough for ecstasy." (p. 331)
Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy is a satisfying read and worth your investment of time. If you get bogged down with details, scan ahead, or go to the last chapter. The last chapter makes sense without the material in the middle chapters, although reading them will deepen your understanding. All in all, Jourdain will give you much to think about, and you may find yourself returning to the book, time and time again, as I have.
Roberta Shroyer, Instructor of piano and music theory, Queen Anne Music Studio, Seattle Washington
42 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A tour de force by a superb author 27 novembre 1999
Par Timothy Miller - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I've published 2 books and a few articles myself, and I'm a serious reader of fiction and non-fiction. My standards are high. Rarely have I seen such a long piece of science writing so consistently fascinating, expressed with such clarity and elegance. Additionally, Robert Jourdain has a comprehensive knowledge of his subject. He must have slaved over this work. The magnitude of the bibliography and notes sections shows this must be true. He has digested and integrated this vast amount of information so completely that he can present it in a way that will be very comfortable for the average reader, yet very satisfying for a reader already well-informed about this topic.
The title is a bit misleading, as it refers only to the last chapter or two. The book is actually a comprehensive education about every aspect of music--its neurology, psychology, history, mathematics, esthetics, and so on.
Some reviewers here have complained that Jourdain is a musical bigot, because he appears less interested in rock and roll, non-western music and twentieth century music than other forms. This criticism is possibly incorrect and definitely misleading. Jourdain's book will prepare any reader to derive more joy from any kind of music that reader happens to prefer. This goes on the top ten non-fiction books of my lifetime.
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
For the technically inquisitive 24 mai 2008
Par Terry in NC - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This work is older than the presently popular Musicophilia, and from a different venue. Sacks' book is basically a compendium of anecdotes from a very observant guy with an opportune position and a great memory. Jordain's is more objective, looking for the physics of the responses to frequencies, resonances and meter. Its kind of a look at the brain as a "machine". In my view, it has less sizzle and more steak. Jordain's work is much more influential in how I think about my own pleasure from and addiction to music, and explains part of my joy in the symmetries and patterns of ballet and in the visual arts, even suggesting what makes me like modern sculpture. The insights from this book increased my wonderment at the magic in our bodies and the great, great beauty in nature. Its on my list of important books: I bought it for my library.
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