Brain Waves

Daniel Levitin had always had an innate curiosity — a "why" kicking around in his head. But one moment in the studio as a record producer stands out. "It was sort of a typical day in the office," he says. "We all showed up for work, bleary-eyed, at the crack of 2 p.m. My job was to light the incense and get the mood just right, set up the microphone. Carlos Santana came in, and at one point he played this solo that just gave me goosebumps. I started thinking, 'What's going on? There's a guy running a piece of plastic across metal wires attached to a block of wood, and it's giving me this strange reaction. What's going on in my brain causing this to happen?'"

He started sitting in on classes at the local university, which just happened to be Stanford, and his quest led him to the field of neuroscience. Levitin now runs the Levitin Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University. His book, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, is a study of the brain's reaction to music and a tribute to its beauty. "I try to convey the sense of childlike wonder that I think many people have and explain it in a way someone with no scientific background would be able to understand," Levitin says.

He'll discuss and sign his book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. For information, visit www.tatteredcover.com or call 303-322-7727.
Fri., Oct. 12, 2007

 
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