“The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature” by Daniel J. Levitin (Dutton, 2008)

The World in Six Songsstarstarstar

Bestselling author of This is Your Brain on Music (which continues to be popular) returns with The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, in which he posits that one of the first abilities that ancient human beings developed was music through sound and singing and the feeling this created within us, leading to developments in language and community and the forming of our ancient civilizations.

Through music and its growing complexity, humanity’s thought process was able to develop and progress.  Levitin breaks down music to its basic song elements, theorizing that there are six types of songs that are instrumental in our development, whether millennia ago, or for each of us alive right now.  These songs, each with their own chapter, are songs of friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion, and love.  Levitin goes into depth with each song, providing clear examples in recent history, as well as many of his own case studies and examples from his life.

What makes The World in Six Songs not just a book of Levitin teaching and telling like a textbook, is that he includes himself in every chapter, revealing his own experiences and actions throughout his life and how music and these six specific songs have played a role from his childhood to the writing of this book.  In this way the reader sees and feels the humanity of it, and is able to empathize and understand all the better for it.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on November 12th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

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