Sunday, 1 June 2008

Here's a book I'd like to read - (hint, hint)

While I was scanning the news headlines today I came across this article - Neurologist, choir explore music's healing power

Noted neurologist Oliver Sacks has found common ground with the pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church: Both men believe in the healing power of music.

[Sacks] shared the church stage Saturday with the famed gospel choir as part of the inaugural World Science Festival, a five-day celebration of science taking place in New York this week.

"It should be an exciting and unusual event," Sacks said in an interview this week. "I will talk about the therapeutic and beneficent power of music as a physician, and then their wonderful choir will perform. ... And the audience will make what they can of it."
Oliver Sacks is Professor of Clinical Neurology and Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. His latest book is called Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. I was intrigued. A few clicks later having had my memory jogged by The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, remembering having heard Oliver often on the radio and no longer confusing him with Jonathan Sacks, I found a few YouTube gems.

Sacks is promoting his book with some video shorts. In no particular order here's:

Oliver Sacks - Musicophilia - Amusia*

And the rest:

*amusia - see Wikipedia, BBC news


Kai Roberts said...

Fascinating stuff. I've heard Oliver Sacks rather uncharitably referred to as 'the man who mistook his patient for a bestseller' but he really is invaluable. I recall him introducing me to the enviable concept of synaesthesia in his series 'The Mind Traveller' on TV years ago. And I've never come across 'amusia' before.

At a slight tangent, I was recently pondering on why the 4/4 time signature is so ubiquitous in popular music and why, as a musician, it's so easy to fall into. Is it simply learnt behaviour or is it somehow primal (perhaps connected with the rhythm of walking, for instance)?

Andy Holroyd said...


Sorry to be slow getting back but you raised good points.

1) Synaesthesia - an enviable sense indeed, perhaps. You may also enjoy V.S. Ramachandran. Rama needs a full post to himself; I have a couple more good links where he goes into more detail.

Note: The TED videos are a goldmine

2) This 4/4 thing - I was talking about this with our drummer earlier tonight. He plays competition standard in a brass band and is used to many time sigs. I used to dance, so I too had to be aware of different time sigs and to have the ability to change in one beat.
The ubiquity of 4/4 today poses a great question and I need to think more about it, again it's worth a full post of its own.

Thanks for the ideas Kai.