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This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Daniel J. Levitin · 3 HN comments
HN Books has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention "This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" by Daniel J. Levitin.
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Amazon Summary
In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music—its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it—and the human brain. Taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, he reveals: • How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world • Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre • That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise • How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our head A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, This Is Your Brain on Music will attract readers of Oliver Sacks and David Byrne, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this book.
Apr 22, 2020 · smoe on Why we listen to new music
I have seen it being referred various times that musical interest and emotional connection to it really develops and peaks around the age 14


I think the book "This Is Your Brain on Music" also talks about it, but I haven't read it yet.

I have never dug deeper on it, but it rings very true for my own case and friends I talked with about it. To the music that awed me when I was a teenager, most intensely so Scandinavian melodic death metal, I still to this day have a stronger emotional reaction than anything I listen to before or after that period of my life. Even tough I don't listen to those songs anymore that often and there are plenty of modern songs in similar styles that I do think are better in many aspects, that just don't have the same goosebumps effect anymore.

And I think the main difference here is me, not the music that has changed, that has gotten better or worse.

I don't know if that's true, around 14 I did emotionally connect to music ofc, for some reason I was into nu-metal at the time. From then on I've made several 180° turns and the music I listened to back then falls somewhere between cringy to kinda alright, depending on the song. For me it feels as my music taste is evolving the emotional connection is actually going up. Well perhaps 14 is the average but it's certainly not true for everyone, the tail can be pretty long.
This sure is one expensive way to figure this stuff out. For those wanting to understand better brains and music check out this book: "This is you brain on music" by Daniel J. Levitin (
I think playing music while on the road is useless.

You are unlike much of the human race. Music is part of every culture and part of the way your brain works.

I like music, just not when I am traveling outside. But granted, I don't commute much. I tend to bicycle, where iPods would be hazardous. Also, I don't want to blank out my environment.

I listen to a lot of music at home.

As I said, I can understand if somebody has to commute a lot.

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