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Music, Math, and Mind


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Table of Contents

Nota Bene
1. The Parameters of Sound
2. The Math of Pitch, Scales, and Harmony
3. Waves and Harmonics
4. The Math of Sound and Resonance
5. Math and Rhythmic Structure
Centerpiece: The Sense of Hearing
6. Brain Mechanisms of Rhythm
7. Neural Mechanisms of Emotion
8. Ear Physiology: How Air Waves Become Sound
9. Deep Brain Physiology of Sound
10. Sound Disorders, Illusions, and Hallucinations
11. Animal Sound, Song, and Music
Appendix 1: Musical Pitch to Frequency Table
Appendix 2: Further Reading
Author's Selected Compositions and Discography

About the Author

David Sulzer is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pharmacology at Columbia University Medical Center. His laboratory has made important contributions to the study of brain mechanisms involved in autism, Parkinson's disease, drug addiction, and learning and memory. He is also a composer and performer under the name Dave Soldier and has worked with many major figures in the classical, jazz, and pop worlds, appearing on over one hundred records. Some of his projects bridge music and neuroscience, including the Thai Elephant Orchestra, an orchestra of fourteen elephants in northern Thailand, and the Brainwave Music Project, which uses EEGs of brain activity to create compositions.


It is rare that one finds a book where on opening any page, one is drawn to read on and . . . to read back. Every page has a story, every page a fascinating connection between the universal joy we find in music and some biological or mathematical fact. Here is the place to find out about the way crickets make music, and the McGurk effect! The science comes along gently, never intimidating. Only a neurobiologist who is a master composer and musician could have written this wonderful book! -- Roald Hoffmann, author and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
If you ever suspected that musicians belonged to a secret society, this is the book that blows the mysteries wide open. Using a potent cocktail of math, physics, history, biology, and neurology, Dave Sulzer explains why music is the medicine most of us can't live without. This is a book written for the initiate and the noninitiate about the universal way sound and music connect us, both human and nonhuman. -- Peter Gabriel, singer-songwriter, musician, and activist
This is an amazing book. Readers will come back to it again and again for its clear explanations, breadth of content, and "listening" advice. Importantly, it includes a chapter on animals, acknowledging that the sophisticated production and perception of music is not limited to humans. It is accessible to all readers but does not shy away from the direct presentation of science-it gives the reader things that anyone interested in this topic needs to begin to think about. It raises important philosophical questions while allowing the reader to gain the skills to explore these questions further and stops there-giving the reader the chance to pursue or ignore. -- Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, primatologist and psychologist, specialist in communication by bonobos
Dave Soldier's excellent book turns into an encyclopedia of our tonal imagination as it catalogues the nefarious passion that gives our creativity its edge. -- John Cale, songwriter, composer, performer
If you think you love music as much as you possibly could, think again. Music, which is so hard to define, and which connects to everything, has yet to reveal every level of its joy to you. This book will help you experience music as an animal, a neural pathway, or a mathematical principle. -- Jaron Lanier, writer, computer scientist, and musician
When your band protests, "Whaddaya mean 'dynamics'? I'm playing as loud as I can!"-turn them onto the solid matter in Music, Math, and Mind. As to Soldier's confection? A ribald reality check on what makes music matter and why we should mind. I've waited seventy-six years in a musical immersion to put a buzz on Dave Soldier's fly-leaf. -- Van Dyke Parks, performer, arranger, producer, composer, and lyricist, including with the Beach Boys
Putting the worlds of science and music together is an ambitious, and potentially intimidating, endeavor. But David Sulzer had me at paragraph one, where he writes "no one needs this book!" No, I don't need it-but I find I do want it. -- John Schaefer, host of New Sounds, WNYC
Musicians shouldn't be intimidated by the title Music, Math, and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music. This is a book that any musician or music fan will find both enjoyable and educational. The questions regarding the science, biology, and math related to music are made easily understandable, and the book is grounded in David's passion for both creating and enjoying music. At the end, anyone reading this book will have a greater appreciation for the creative spirit and a way to understand music in even deeper ways. -- Bob Neuwirth, singer-songwriter and record producer
With his whimsical, philosophical deep dive into the musical interplay of science and mathematics, Sulzer draws on his dual roles - as professor of psychiatry, neurology, and pharmacology at Columbia University and as an experimental musician (under the name Dave Soldier). Each chapter unfolds with theory, history, mathematical notation, and riveting storytelling. * Library Journal *
At last, the book for science nerds no musical home should be without. * Limelight Magazine *
A jaunty, conversational manner...you barely realize that you're learning some rather heady stuff. * Memphis Flyer *
[Music, Math, and Mind: the Physics and Neuroscience of Music] is exactly the sort of book that science written for a general audience should be-accessible on multiple levels from the neophyte to the expert, engagingly written, and informative in a way that stimulates curiosity and prompts further investigation. . . . Highly recommended. * Choice *

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