This is your Brain on Music (The Science of Human Obsession) by Daniel J.
Daniel J. Levitin is a research scientist, musician, award-winning record producer, writer, and former
Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Currently, he is an associate professor of psychology at McGill University, where he holds the
Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communication and the FQRNT Strategic Chair in Psychology.
He is an associate member of the Department of Music Theory, Program in Sound Recording, and Program in Music Technology at
McGill. He earned his PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Oregon (with a PhD minor in Music Technology), his
BA from Stanford University in cognitive psychology (with honors and a minor in music), and did post-doctoral training in
psychoacoustics and neuroimaging at Stanford University. Levitin served as vice president of artists and repertoire at 415/Columbia
Records (now Sony Records) from 1984 to 1988, as president in 1989, and was instrumental in building the company to $20 million
in annual sales. After 415, Levitin ran a successful production and consulting company whose clients included every major
American record label and several film companies. From 1996 to 1998 he worked at Interval Research Corporation, the Silicon
Valley think tank owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, collaborating with computer industry pioneers, including the inventors
of the laptop computer, the laser printer, and the computer mouse. At Interval, Levitin developed new musical instrument controllers
currently used by Laurie Anderson and Michael Brook. In 1999, Levitin helped to form one of the first internet music distribution
companies, MoodLogic, Inc., for which he serves on the corporate advisory board. In 2000, Levitin helped to found McGill University’s
Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology. An avid writer, Levitin has published twenty-five peer-reviewed
scientific articles and over 300 articles about music and music technology in commercial and trade magazines including Billboard,
Electronic Musician, Mix, and Grammy. For his technical and marketing contributions to the recording industry,
Levitin has been awarded twelve gold or platinum records, and two of his projects received Oscar nominations. He has consulted
on underwater sound source separation for the U.S. Navy, and currently directs the McGill Laboratory for the Study of Music
Cognition, Perception and Expertise. As a musician (tenor saxophone, guitar, and bass), he has performed with Mel Tormé,
Nancy Wilson, and members of the Steve Miller Band and Santana. Check out Dr. Daniel J. Levitin’s websites at www.psych.mcgill.ca/levitin/ and www.yourbrainonmusic.com.
In the intro Dr. Levitin gives his background on how he came to love music. As a student he purchased a 100
dollar stereo ands started listening to all types of music. Later to keep his parents happy he agreed to use the headphones
his father bought for him. Here is where he started to hear music in all its realm. Essentially he tells how music or sound
gets directly translated into brain waves of similar frequency. Where as light also a frequency based creature gets converted
from different frequencies into a mind construct known as colour. In the first section he begins a description about what
is music. By defining each musical term he gives a working vocabulary to the non-musically inclined. Pitch: psychological
construct and has to do with the frequency of a note high or low frequencies correspond to high or low pitches. Rhythm: duration
and grouping of notes. Tempo: overall speed of music. Contour: overall shape of music melody. Timbre (rhymes with amber) the
quality of an instrument that lets one distinguish between them eg a piano and an organ. Loudness: how much air an instrument
displaces i.e. the overall energy output or amplitude. Reverb: the perception of how far away the instrument is from listener.
Meter: created by brain and derrived from info gathered involving rythym and loudness. Key: importance of certain notes within
musical piece created in the mind. Melody: main theme of music and involving the most salient or memorable melody in song.
Harmony: relationship between pitches of different tones.