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  • Published: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448114542
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 464

The Music Instinct

How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It

Philip Ball provides the first comprehensive, accessible guide to how music works and why it is indispensible to humanity

Why have all human cultures - today and throughout history - made music?
Why does music excite such rich emotion?
How do we make sense of musical sound?
These are questions that have, until recently, remained mysterious. Now The Music Instinct explores how the latest research in music psychology and brain science is piecing together the puzzle of how our minds understand and respond to music. Ranging from Bach fugues to nursery rhymes to heavy rock, Philip Ball interweaves philosophy, mathematics, history and neurology to reveal why music moves us in so many ways. Without requiring any specialist knowledge, The Music Instinct will both deepen your appreciation of the music you love, and open doors to music that once seemed alien, dull or daunting, offering a passionate plea for the importance of music in education and in everyday life.

  • Published: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448114542
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 464

About the author

Philip Ball

Philip Ball writes regularly in the scientific and popular media and worked for many years as an editor for physical sciences at Nature. His books cover a wide range of scientific and cultural phenomena, and include Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads To Another (winner of the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books), The Music Instinct, Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything,Serving The Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Science Under Hitler and Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics.

Also by Philip Ball

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Praise for The Music Instinct

Wonderful account of why music matters... one of the finest and most versatile of current non-fiction writers

Sunday Times

Exemplary... In contemplating the mysteries of music we are also contemplating the mystery of ourselves... Ball, thankfully, doesn't try to provide any easy answers, but rather sends the reader back to the music a better listener


This is a truly fascinating and eye-opening account of a phenomenon so commonplace we barely think about it, yet one which is also mind-bogglingly complicated. Once you've read The Music Instinct, you'll never listed to music the same way again


A musical experience in itself...his love of the subject is abundantly evident.. His mastery of many scientific disciplines is a delight

Daily Telegraph

Impressively engaging...it will be the rare music lover that does not come away without having learned many interesting things


Ball....proves as comfortable discussing the science of music as its cultural and artistic dimensions... This thought-provoking book answers many questions, and leaves a few hanging tantalisingly behind as well

Financial Times

Remarkable capacity to use words to open our ears

Sunday Telegraph

This book surveys current thinking and tells you why music rocks

Iain Finlayson, The Times

Bestriding with equal ease the very different disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, history and neurology, the author answers com amore the questions posed in the subtitle of this important book. A remarkable achievement.

Classic FM Magazine

The author breaks new (to me) ground

Sunday Telegraph

As prolific as he is profound, Philip Ball weaves science into culture with a dexterity and virtuosity that avoid any sense of overstretch... Ball can truly make scholarship sing.

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

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