Oliver Sacks - Musicophilia (4 stars)

Oliver Sacks - Musicophilia

Musicophilia (Picador)


Listening to music is something most of us take for granted; millions of commuters can’t even go on a bus ride without hundreds of songs in their pockets, but what’s really happening when we lodge those earphones into our heads? Musicophilia is a fascinating examination into music’s physical, psychological and neurological effects, explained by Oliver Sacks in anecdotal yet insightful case studies.

Many phenomena are explored here, including musical hallucinations, absolute pitch, synesthesia and the effects of music on neurological disorders. Using the latest research, Sacks is able to unravel the processes between the inner ear and brain, and shows how these experiences can be therapeutic. Our sensitivity to music, Sacks hypothesises, is a kind of ‘sixth sense’ which goes far deeper, emotionally, than our capacity for language. Thankfully, the power of music loses none of its impact through this dissection, and if anything, Musicophilia will make you appreciate the next track all the more.

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