Oliver Sacks · 400 pages
Rating: (45.1K votes)
“Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.”
“Music is part of being human.”
“The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain...Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves.”
“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”
“There are, of course, inherent tendencies to repetition in music itself. Our poetry, our ballads, our songs are full of repetition; nursery rhymes and the little chants and songs we use to teach young children have choruses and refrains. We are attracted to repetition, even as adults; we want the stimulus and the reward again and again, and in music we get it. Perhaps, therefore, we should not be surprised, should not complain if the balance sometimes shifts too far and our musical sensitivity becomes a vulnerability.”
“It really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads.”
“There is certainly a universal and unconscious propensity to impose a rhythm even when one hears a series of identical sounds at constant intervals... We tend to hear the sound of a digital clock, for example, as "tick-tock, tick-tock" - even though it is actually "tick tick, tick tick.”
“The power of music, whether joyous or cathartic must steal on one unawares, come spontaneously as a blessing or a grace--”
“What an odd thing it is to see an entire species -- billions of people -- playing with, listening to meaningless tonal patterns, occupied and preoccupied for much of their time by what they call 'music.' (-- The Overlords, from Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End)”
“Given her deafness, the auditory part of the brain, deprived of its usual input, had started to generate a spontaneous activity of its own, and this took the form of musical hallucinations, mostly musical memories from her earlier life. The brain needed to stay incessantly active, and if it was not getting its usual stimulation..., it would create its own stimulation in the form of hallucinations.”
“At the end of our visit, Fleisher agreed to play something on my piano, a beautiful old 1894 Bechstein concert grand that I had grown up with, my father's piano. Fleisher sat at the piano and carefully, tenderly, stretched each finger in turn, and then, with arms and hands almost flat, he started to play. He played a piano transcription of Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," as arranged for piano by Egon Petri. Never in its 112 years, I thought, had this piano been played by such a master-I had the feeling that Fleisher has sized up the piano's character and perhaps its idiosyncrasies within seconds, that he had matched his playing to the instrument, to bring out its greatest potential, its particularity. Fleisher seemed to distill the beauty, drop by drop, like an alchemist, into flowing notes of an almost unbearable beauty-and, after this, there was nothing more to be said.”
“Anatomists today would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer or a mathematician - but they would recognize the brain of a professional musician without moment's hesitation.”
“Perception is never purely in the present - it has to draw on experience of the past;(...).We all have detailed memories of how things have previously looked and sounded, and these memories are recalled and admixed with every new perception.”
“Patients with various other types of movement disorders may also be able to pick up the rhythmic movement or kinetic melody of an animal, so, for example, equestrian therapy may have startling effectiveness for people with parkinsonism, Tourette’s syndrome, chorea, or dystonia.”
“WHILE MUSIC alone can unlock people with parkinsonism, and movement or exercise of any kind is also beneficial, an ideal combination of music and movement is provided by dance (and dancing with a partner, or in a social setting, brings to bear other therapeutic dimensions).”
“Professional musicians, in general, possess what most of us would regard as remarkable powers of musical imagery. Many composers, indeed, do not compose initially or entirely at an instrument but in their minds. There is no more extraordinary example of this than Beethoven, who continued to compose (and whose compositions rose to greater and greater heights) years after he had become totally deaf. It is possible that his musical imagery was even intensified by deafness, for with the removal of normal auditory input, the auditory cortex may become hypersensitive, with heightened powers of musical imagery (and sometimes even auditory hallucinations).”
“Music can also evoke worlds very different from the personal, remembered worlds of events, people, places we have known.”
“Ucho w liczbach:" A youthful ear can hear ten octaves of sound, spanning a range from about thirty to twelve tousand vibrations a second. The avarege ear can distinguish sounds a seventeenth of a tone apart. From top to bottom we hear about fourtheen tousend discriminable tones.”
“I had no room now for this fear, or for any other fear, because I was filled to the brim with music. And even when it was not literally (audibly) music, there was the music of my muscle-orchestra playing — “the silent music of the body,” in Harvey’s lovely phrase. With this playing, the musicality of my motion, I myself became the music — “You are the music, while the music lasts.” A creature of muscle, motion and music, all inseparable and in unison with each other — except for that unstrung part of me, that poor broken instrument which could not join in and lay motionless and mute without tone or tune.”
“Perception is never purely in the present - it has to draw on experience of the past.”
“Deutsch and her colleagues, in their 2006 paper, suggested that their work not only has “implications for the issues of modularity in the processing of speech and music…[but] of the evolutionary origin” of both. In particular, they see absolute pitch, whatever its subsequent vicissitudes, as having been crucial to the origins of both speech and music. In his book The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body, Steven Mithen takes this idea further, suggesting that music and language have a common origin, and that a sort of combined protomusic-cum-protolanguage was characteristic of the Neanderthal mind.”
“The combination of mental and physical practice leads to greater performance improvement than does physical practice alone, a phenomenon for which our findings provide a physiological explanation. - Alvaro Pascual-Leone”
“Physiological confirmation of such “filling in” by involuntary musical imagery has recently been obtained by William Kelley and his colleagues at Dartmouth, who used functional MRI to scan the auditory cortex while their subjects listened to familiar and unfamiliar songs in which short segments had been replaced by gaps of silence. The silent gaps embedded in familiar songs were not consciously noticed by their subjects, but the researchers observed that these gaps “induced greater activation in the auditory association areas than did silent gaps embedded in unknown songs; this was true for gaps in songs with lyrics and without lyrics.”
“The tritone - an augmented fourth (or, in hazz parlance, a flatted fifth) - is a difficult interval to sing and has often been regarded as having an ugly, uncanny, or even diabolical quality. Its use was forbidden in early ecclesiastical music, and early theorists called it diabolus in musica ("the devil in music"). But Tartini used it, for this very reason, in his Devil's Trill Sonata for violin.
Though the raw tritone sounds so harsh, it is easily filled out with another tritone to form a diminished seventh. And this, the Oxford Companion to Music notes, "has a luscious effect... The chord is indeed the most Protean in all harmony. In England the nickname has been given it of 'The Clapham Junction of Harmony' - from a railway station in London where so many lines join that once arrived there one can take a train for almost anywhere else.”
“(One newsmagazine, in 1987, defined them, half facetiously, as “cognitively infectious musical agents.”)”
“Anatomists today would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer, or a mathematician—but they could recognize the brain of a professional musician without a moment’s hesitation.”
“67.What Jacob discovered in himself has similarities to a phenomenon reported in experimental animals by Arnaud Noreña and Jos Eggermont in 2005. They found that cats exposed to “noise trauma” and then raised for a few weeks in a quiet environment developed not only hearing loss but distorted tonotopic maps in the primary auditory cortex. (They would have complained of pitch distortion, were they able to.) If, however, the cats were exposed to an enriched acoustic environment for several weeks following exposure to noise trauma, their hearing loss was less severe, and distortions in their auditory cortical mapping did not occur.”
“That we have separate and distinct mechanisms for appreciating the structural and the emotional aspects of music is brought home by the wide variety of responses (and even “dissociations”) that people have to music.146 There are many of us who lack some of the perceptual or cognitive abilities to appreciate music but nonetheless enjoy it hugely, and enthusiastically bawl out tunes, sometimes shockingly off-key, in a way that gives us great happiness (though it may make others squirm). There are others with an opposite balance: they may have a good ear, be finely sensitive to the formal nuances of music, but nevertheless do not care for it greatly or consider it a significant part of their lives. That one may be quite “musical” and yet almost indifferent to music, or almost tone-deaf yet passionately sensitive to music, is quite striking. While”
“Cortical maps are dynamic, and can change as circumstances alter. Many of us have experienced this, getting a new pair of glasses or a new hearing aid. At first the new glasses or hearing aids seem intolerable, distorting - but within days or hours, our brain adapts to them, and we can make full use of our new new optically or acoustically improved senses. It is similar with the brain's mapping of the body image, which adapts quite rapidly if there are changes in the sensory input or the use of the body.”
“In his book The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body, Steven Mithen takes this idea further, suggesting that music and language have a common origin, and that a sort of combined protomusic-cum-protolanguage was characteristic of the Neanderthal mind.62 This sort of singing language of meanings, without individual words as we understand them, he calls Hmmm (for holistic-mimetic-musical-multimodal)—and it depended, he speculates, on a conglomeration of isolated skills, including mimetic abilities and absolute pitch.”
“ہمارے پیچھے کیا تھا ہم بھلانا چاہتے ہیں ہمارے آگے کیا ہے ہمارے لیے ڈھونڈنا مشکل ہے. مگر کہیں نا کہیں کچھ نا کچھ تو ہمارے لیے بھی ہے.”
“It’s not perfect, this thing between us, like trying to bring the two circles of our lives together, and living in the small, tight space where they intersect, everything else pushed to the circumference, until we step back inside our very different, very separate orbs.”
“You cannot kill a breeze, a wind, a fragrance, you cannot kill a dream or an ambition. God, manufactured by mortals in their own quintessential image, exists only to make daily life bearable despite the path that every one of us treads toward extinction. As long as men are obliged to die, some of them, unable to endure the prospect, will concoct fond illusions.We cannot assassinate or kill an illusion. In fact, illusion is more likely to kill us — for God puts to death everything that stands up to him, beginning with reason, intelligence, and the critical mind. All the rest follows in a chain reaction.”
“I told, you he doesn’t feel anything.” She was a warrior. Good at the game. I had no doubt she’d been the one who taught Hudson to be so good at his own games. “For anyone,” she added. “That’s a lie.” I had no chance against her. She drew the reaction she desired. But if I had to spar, I’d put my best fight into it. “I’ve seen proof to the contrary.” “Because of how he seems to love you? He’s a good actor.” I spun to face her. “No, because of how he seems to love you.” I spit the words like venom. “When there’s no reason he should. When you’ve alienated him and betrayed him and destroyed him and made him the confused man he is by your lack of affection and support and faith. If he can continue to care about a piece of shit like you, after all you’ve done to him, then I have no doubt of his capability of love.” You fucking bitch.”
“I thought you wanted me to talk more," he said when he noticed her silence. "Can't have it both ways, Stephanie. I can't be quiet when you want to sulk and chatty when you want to chat. That's not how it works. That's not how I work."
"I'm not sulking."
"Well, you're doing something with your face that resembles sulking. Are you glowering? You might be glowering. Glowering is like sulking only scarier.”
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