What goes on in human beings when they make or listen to music? What is it about music, what gives it such peculiar power over us, power delectable and beneficent for the most part, but also capable of uncontrollable and sometimes destructive force? Music has no concepts, it lacks images; it has no power of representation, it has no relation to the world. And yet it is evident in all of us–we tap our feet, we keep time, hum, sing, conduct music, mirror the melodic contours and feelings of what we hear in our movements and expressions.
In this book, Oliver Sacks explores the power music wields over us–a power that sometimes we control and at other times don’t. He explores, in his inimitable fashion, how it can provide access to otherwise unreachable emotional states, how it can revivify neurological avenues that have been frozen, evoke memories of earlier, lost events or states or bring those with neurological disorders back to a time when the world was much richer.
This is a book that explores, like no other, the myriad dimensions of our experience of and with music.
Neurologist and professor Sacks, best known for his books Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, dedicates his latest effort to the relationship between music and unusual brain disorders. Embracing the notion that neurology is an inherently British phenomenon, foreign to the New World, Sacks's book is read by impeccably polished actor Prebble (PW's 2006 Narrator of the Year). As befitting so urbane and smooth a reader, Prebble sounds as if his shirt had just been starched and his lab coat carefully pressed before beginning. With nary a word out of place, Prebble steps onto the stage, playing the good Dr. Sacks for this one-time-only performance. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 27).