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Beethoven's Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture

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Why does the brain create music? In Beethoven's Anvil, cognitive scientist and jazz musician William Benzon finds the key to music's function in the very complexity of musical experience. Music demands that our symbol-processing capacities, motor skills, emotional and communicative skills all work in close coordination-not only within our own heads but with the heads (and Why does the brain create music? In Beethoven's Anvil, cognitive scientist and jazz musician William Benzon finds the key to music's function in the very complexity of musical experience. Music demands that our symbol-processing capacities, motor skills, emotional and communicative skills all work in close coordination-not only within our own heads but with the heads (and bodies) of others. Music is at once deeply personal and highly social, highly disciplined and open to emotional nuance and interpretation. It's precisely this coordination of different mental functions, Benzon argues, that underlies our deep need to create and participate in music. Music synchronizes the brain and has had a profound, and little-appreciated, influence on the shape of the mind and human cultures. This is a remarkable book: both daring and scholarly, it offers a sweeping vision of a vital, underappreciated force in our minds and culture.


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Why does the brain create music? In Beethoven's Anvil, cognitive scientist and jazz musician William Benzon finds the key to music's function in the very complexity of musical experience. Music demands that our symbol-processing capacities, motor skills, emotional and communicative skills all work in close coordination-not only within our own heads but with the heads (and Why does the brain create music? In Beethoven's Anvil, cognitive scientist and jazz musician William Benzon finds the key to music's function in the very complexity of musical experience. Music demands that our symbol-processing capacities, motor skills, emotional and communicative skills all work in close coordination-not only within our own heads but with the heads (and bodies) of others. Music is at once deeply personal and highly social, highly disciplined and open to emotional nuance and interpretation. It's precisely this coordination of different mental functions, Benzon argues, that underlies our deep need to create and participate in music. Music synchronizes the brain and has had a profound, and little-appreciated, influence on the shape of the mind and human cultures. This is a remarkable book: both daring and scholarly, it offers a sweeping vision of a vital, underappreciated force in our minds and culture.

30 review for Beethoven's Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brian Shasha

    I cant say that I enjoyed reading this book. I picked up this book with the belief that it would help me understand how and why we listen to music with a substantial scientific approach but what I read was more anecdotes and references to other philosophies that were used as constructs for ideas on why this author believes we all listen to music, the messages I got from the author was one that tries to separate man from monkey and how music is that bold line. After spending a couple days with th I cant say that I enjoyed reading this book. I picked up this book with the belief that it would help me understand how and why we listen to music with a substantial scientific approach but what I read was more anecdotes and references to other philosophies that were used as constructs for ideas on why this author believes we all listen to music, the messages I got from the author was one that tries to separate man from monkey and how music is that bold line. After spending a couple days with this book, I surrendered and had to put it down for good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Isaac Kwiatkowski

    Surprised to see this book rated on average at three stars! In my opinion it is both an accurate and poetic contemplation on music in its highest form. This text helped me write one of my best undergrad essays, and I'm grateful Benzon wrote it. Surprised to see this book rated on average at three stars! In my opinion it is both an accurate and poetic contemplation on music in its highest form. This text helped me write one of my best undergrad essays, and I'm grateful Benzon wrote it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ellie O'Day

    Too academic for my vocabulary. But some interesting ideas - and others I didn't agree with at all. Too academic for my vocabulary. But some interesting ideas - and others I didn't agree with at all.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jason Clarke

    Interesting for awhile, but then just too long.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This book takes a functional look at the activity of music (or "Musicking" as Benzon refers to it). There are some very interesting passages of speculative theorizing about the origins of language, rhythm and music. But when I finished the book I felt that his thesis that when people Musick together there is a coupling of their nervous system. It seems unproblematic that people who perform or even listen to music together will synchronize their rhythm and pitch. They may even share meaning about This book takes a functional look at the activity of music (or "Musicking" as Benzon refers to it). There are some very interesting passages of speculative theorizing about the origins of language, rhythm and music. But when I finished the book I felt that his thesis that when people Musick together there is a coupling of their nervous system. It seems unproblematic that people who perform or even listen to music together will synchronize their rhythm and pitch. They may even share meaning about the musical piece. Yet to claim that there is a coupling of nervous systems suggests a physical event at the biological level beyond merely engaging in synchronous behavior. To quote the lyrics from a song of my era, "What it is ain't exactly clear."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jpnreader

    Came across as a first-draft, not a finished product.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I didn't finish this book, though it had some interesting ideas. Very dense writing, and while the ideas are intriguing, the author provides very little scientific backing. I didn't finish this book, though it had some interesting ideas. Very dense writing, and while the ideas are intriguing, the author provides very little scientific backing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Vessels

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  10. 5 out of 5

    Keisuke Toyoda

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  12. 5 out of 5

    emily

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paulio

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Came across as a rough draft rather than an actually well-thought out book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bill Benzon

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lukasali

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jose

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephen G Ashurst

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vena

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

    gave up...interesting but too much medical terminology!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Griffin

  25. 5 out of 5

    G Mapes

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marco

  28. 4 out of 5

    Will Wright

  29. 5 out of 5

    William Kast

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eglash

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