by Oliver Sacks



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darwin – in the descent of man: as neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of producing musical notes are faculties of the least use to man.. they must be ranked among the most mysterious with which he is endowed….. pinker: ..has referred to music as ‘auditory cheesecake’ and asks.. what benefit could there be to diverting time and energy to making plinking far as biological cause and effect are concerned, music is useless.. it could vanish from our species and the rest of our lifestyle would be virtually unchanged.. while pinker is very musical himself… and would feel impoverished by its absence… he doesn’t believe music or an of the arts are direct evolutionary adaptations..

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pinker (and other) feel that our musical powers – some of them at least – are made possible by using, or recruiting, or co=opting brain systems that have already developed for other purposes.

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“The inexpressible depth of music,” Schopenhauer wrote, “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

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virtually no neuroscience of music prior to the 1980s. this has all changed in the last two decades w/new technologies that allow us to see the living brain as people listen to, imagine, and even compose music.

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he wanted to go back, he wanted to tell the woman to stop giving him cpr, to let him go; but it was too late – he was firmly back among the living.

cs lewis – shadowlands – a grief observed

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dr cicoria said, they were not hallucinations – ‘inspiration’ was a more apt word. the music was there, deep inside him – or somewhere – and all he had to do was let it come to him.

how much of us is like that… already there…

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a connection that only became apparent when her seizures were brought under control w/ medication.

lo 296 – on patients’ emerging music talents when they lose powers of abstraction and language.. (but clearly not case w dr cicoria)

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These could have been due to cerebral anoxia alone—for his brain must have been without adequate oxygen for a minute or more. One has to suspect, however, that Dr. Cicoria’s apparent recovery a couple of weeks after these events was not as complete as it seemed, that there were other, unnoticed forms of brain damage, and that his brain was still reacting to the original insult and reorganizing itself during this time

self-organizing ness.. small world network.. perpetual beta

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many written me.. to tell of.. no accident or near death or whatever.. yet.. in 40s 50s 80s .. found w/ sudden/unexpected creative gifts or passions

grace – had songs in her head forever.. but only after trip to israel were they her own songs.. she wondered if there might have been a psychological impetus, an ‘unlocking’ of some sort, during her journey to israel and jordan.

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can’t describe joy/wonder.. finding this later in life. ie:my brain and fingers trying to connect, to from new synapses..

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though no demonstrable lesion showed.. he had suffered concussion.. early in life.. might have produced scarring..

Siddhartha.. the tiny and over time growth ness

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or whether what he heard was a dreamlike construction or conflation which, for all its ‘familiarity’ he will never identify

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once i become aware of that strange yet familiar confusion and realize it is in fact a seizure, i seem to try not to figure out what the music maybe be – indeed, if i could study it closely like a poem or piece of music, i would.. but perhaps subconsciously i am afraid that if i pay too much attention to it, i may not be able to escape the song – like quicksand, or hypnosis….. in the ‘strange yet familiar confusion’ which is an integral part of his seizure experience..

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on pitch (g sharp in specific registers) and timber (pluck vs strum of guitar strings) sensitivity

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on musicogenic epilepsy – sound quality, emotional impact.. considered to be very rare, but critchley wondered if it might be notably more common than supposed.. .. he wondered.. if abortive forms.. of musical epilepsy might be relatively common (from avoiding… blocking ears .. et al)

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remarkable sensitivity to sounds,, able to detects sounds too soft or distant for others to hear. he enjoyed this, and felt that his auditory world was ‘more alive more vivid’  .. but wondered if played a part in his now epileptic sensitivity to music/sound

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his seizures start with or are preceded by a special state of intense, involuntary, almost forced attention or listening. in this already altered state, the music… takes possession of him.. first an overwhelming psychic experience and then a seizure..

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Even if it is involuntary and unconscious, going over passages mentally in this way is a crucial tool for all performers, and the imagination of playing can be almost as efficacious as the physical actuality

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research/technicalities of last note..

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on saturating you brain .. when listening to music.. leading to involuntary concerts..

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theodor reik – the haunting melody – melodies which run through mind give the analyst a clue to the secret life of emotions that everyone of us lives…in this inwward singing….the incidental music accompanying our conscious thinking is never accidental


rodolfo llinas, a neuroscientist at ny uni, is especially interested in the interactions of the cortex and the thalamus – which he postulates to underlie consciousness or ‘self’ and their interaction with the motor nuclei beneath the cortex, especially the basal ganglia, which he sees as crucial to the production of ‘action patterns’ for walking/shaving/playing the violin, etc…..

The neural processes underlying that which we call creativity have nothing to do with rationality. That is to say, if we look at how the brain generates creativity, we will see that it is not a rational process at all; creativity is not born out of reasoning

M.D., Ph.D. Chairman of the Department of #Physiology & #Neuroscience at the#NYU School of #Medicine. —My interest in science came from basic curiosity.

Patricia Churchland


additioal bous of drawing attention to otherwise overlooked or repressed thoughts, and in this way may serve a function similar to that of dreams..

t really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads. If Arthur C. Clarke’s Overlords were puzzled when they landed on Earth and observed how much energy our species puts into making and listening to music, they would have been stupefied when they realized that, even in the absence of external sources, most of us are incessantly playing music in our heads.


on ear/brain worms


describing in patients.. these feedback loops that won’t end


there are attributes of musical imagery/memory that have no equivalents in the visual sphere, and this may cast light on the fundamentally different way in which the brain treats music and vision. this peculiarity of music may arise in part because we have to construct a visual world for ourselves, and a selective and personal character therefore infuses our visual memories from the start 0 whereas we are given pieces of music already constructed. a visual or social scene can be constructed or reconstructed in a hundred diff ways, but the recall of a musical piece has to be close to the original. we do, of course, listen selectively, with differing interpretations and emotions, but the basic musical characteristics of a ice – tis tempo, its rhythm, its melodic contours, even its timbre and pitch – tend to be preserved with remarkable accuracy.

oh my. reeling here. thinking john cage. wondering if we’ve pigeonholed music.. to ie: civilized music. wondering why the same can’t be said for imagery..

was excited at first.. on the need to construct … because i believe we need to construct…

perhaps our assumption that music is given already constructed is what both creates this accurate preservation.. but also a not us ness… the endless looping.. the feed back loop is broken ness…

i don’t know.

deep\er dive.. thinking of music (the way described just above.. so already constructed… not thinking of cage ness here.. and assuming oliver wasn’t either.. assuming ie: musician isn’t either) ..

and so thinking of songs.. like national songs and holiday songs and hymns and … popular songs.. and your fav artist songs.. and how we sing along.. with the whole package deal.. even if there’s parts we don’t agree with.. wondering if that’s the part that’s making a musicians brain diff… that it’s more toward manufacturing consent ness.. because we’ve assume civilized music defines music.. and perhaps.. we’re blocking out your own song ness…

so am thinking.. what if brains of musicians are visibly diff than any other.. because they are less healthy.. because so much of that changed ness in the brain is from conforming.. more than constructing (which i think you could get from cage-type music)

thinking too of people who hear their own music later in life.. or anytime.. and then flow into it..

it is this fidelity – this almost defenseless engraving of music on the brain – which plays a crucial part in predisposing us to certain excesses, or pathologies, of musical imagery/memory, excesses that may even occur in relatively unmusical people.


is is possible that earworms are.. a modern penom..

An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. Phrases used to describe an earworm include musical imagery repetition, involuntary musical imagery, and stuck song syndrome. The word earworm is a calque from the German Ohrwurm. The earliest known usage is in Desmond Bagley’s 1978 novel Flyaway.

Researchers who have studied and written about the phenomenon include Theodor Reik, Sean Bennett, Oliver Sacks, Daniel Levitin, James Kellaris, Philip Beaman, Vicky Williamson, and, in a more theoretical perspective, Peter Szendy. The phenomenon is common and should not be confused with palinacousis, a rare medical condition caused by damage to the temporal lobe of the brain that results in auditory hallucinations.


her music continued to be extremely loud and intrusive, stopping only when she was intellectually engaged,’ as in conversation or in playing bridge….. on hallucinations (all over the place broken random loud) having perception vs imagery (normal coherent obedient).. not having it..


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, whether auditory or visual, it would create its own stimulation in the form of hallucinations. Perhaps the prednisone or the sudden decline in hearing for which it was given had pushed her over some threshold, so that release hallucinations suddenly appeared

whoa.. sounds like bad starfish.. ness.. and why we need for everyone to be doing something else.. and why that something else has to be their own choice.. everyday.

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describing how the musician brain is different.


In 1995, they published a paper showing that the corpus callosum, the great commissure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain, is enlarged in professional musicians and that a part of the auditory cortex, the planum temporale, has an asymmetric enlargement in musicians with absolute pitch. Schlaug et al. went on to show increased volumes of gray matter in motor, auditory, and visuospatial areas of the cortex, as well as in the cerebellum.40

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.

how much, schlaug wondered, are these differences a reflection of innate predisposition and how much an effect of early musical training? one does not, of course, know what distinguishes the brains of musically gifted 4 yr olds before they start musical training…

alvaro pascual-leone at harvard has shown how rapidly the brain responds to musical training. using five finger piano exercises..he’s demo’d that the motor cortex can show changes w/in minutes of practicing such sequences… increased activity in the basal ganglia and the cerebellum, as well as various areas of the cerebral cortex – not only w/physical practice, but w/mental practice


There is clearly a wide range of musical talent, but there is much to suggest there is an innate musicality in virtually everyone.

shown most clearly in the suzuki method to train young children, entirely by ear and by imitation, to play the violin. virtually all hearing children respond to such training.

1990 – mozart effect  – listening to music could modify – has been disputed… little doubt that regular exposure to music, and esp active participation in music, may stimulate development of many diff areas of the brain.. areas which have to work together to listen to or perform music.


can musical competence be seen as a*universal human potential in teh same way as linguistic competence?

* ?

there is exposure to language in every household, and virtually all children develop linguistic competence (in chomskian sense) by the age of four or five…. while there is a fairly well-defined critical period for language acquisition in the first years of life, this is much less so for music.

To be languageless at the age of six or seven is a catastrophe (it is only likely to occur in the case of deaf children given no effective access to either Sign or speech), but to be musicless at the same age does not necessarily predict a musicless future


the sounds of the guitar and the feeling of plucked strings excited him, and he learned rapidly..

limits imposed by nature.. having absolute pitch, for ie, is highly dependent on early musical training, but such training cannot, by itself, guarantee absolute pitch.

….what one calls musicality comprises a great range of skills and receptivities, from the most elementary perceptions, from the most elementary perceptions of pitch and tempo to the highest aspects of musical intelligence and sensibility, and that, in principle, all of these are dissociable one from another. all of us, indeed, are stronger in some aspects of musicality, waker in others, and so have some kinship to both cordelia and george.


on composite nature of visual perception… someone with such a higher order defect here – a visual agnosia, for ie – may be able to copy a picture or paint a scene so that others can recognize it, but they themselves cannot…. al benton…. distinguishes ‘receptive’ fro ‘interpretive’ or ‘performance’ amusia, and identifies more than a dozen varieties.


esp after left hemi stroke… profound forms of rhythm deafness w/o tone deafness.. and vice versa.. in general, though, forms of rhythm deafness are rarely total, because rhythm is represented widely in the brain…

also cultural forms of rhythm deafness…. infants at six months can readily detect all rhythmic variations, but by twelve moths their range has narrowed, albeit sharpened. they can now more easily detect the types of rhythms to which they have previously been exposed; they learn and internalize a set of rhythms for their culture. adults find it harder still to perceive ‘foreign’ rhythmic distinctions.

cultural and exposure determine some of one’ tonal sensitivities as well.

there does not seem to be any innate neurological preference for particular types of music, any more than there are for particular languages.

the only indispensable elements of music are discrete tones and rhythmic organization

many of us unable to sing/whistle in tune, though usually very conscious of this – we do not have amusia.


but true tone deafness is present in perhaps 5% of population, and people with such an amusa can veer off key w/o realizing it, or be unable to recognize off key singing by others.

those with gross tone *deafness can still enjoy music and enjoy singing. amusia in its absolute sense- total amusia – is another matter, for here tones are not recognized as tones, and music, therefore, is not experienced as music.

*deafness – or .. are they hearing something else..? and our norms are making them feel bad about it.. and so.. not develop it..?

for such people melodies lose their *musical quality and may acquire a non-musical, disagreeable character..

*musical – who defines this..? does cage..? et al..


she was reassured that the condition was ‘real’ not in her mind – and that others had it as well. she got in touch with other amusic people, and feels that now, with a bona fide ‘condition’ she can excuse herself from going to musical events. she wishes that a diagnosis of amusia had ben made when she was seven rather than seventy – this might have saver her from a lifetime of being bored or excruciated by concerts, to which she went only out of politeness.

suffocating from the day ness


She replied that she had been curious as a child: “If I had a wish, it would be to hear music as others heard it.” But she no longer gives this much thought. She cannot perceive or imagine what others are enjoying so much, but she has many other interests and does not think of herself as “defective” or as missing an essential part of life—she is simply the way she is, and always has been

so much of this today. too much. norms. ugh.


peretz… two basic categories of musical perception: recog of melodies; perception of rhythm/time intervals

on even infants perceiving resonance… discordant sound produced by a major second..  tested number fo subjects.. only those w/extensive damage to an area involved in emotional judgments, the parahippocampal cortex, were affected.


what such amusics seem to be lacking, wrote ayotte et al, is the knowledge and procedures required for mapping pitches and musical scales

lawrence wrote: i have an excellent sense of rhythm and yet i am almost completely amusical in another sense. the missing element for me is the ability to hear the relations between notes and hence aurally to appreciate their interactions and interweavings.

… but couldn’t even tell you if my own humming going up or down.


professor b could immediately get a melody by reading its notation his musical imagery was intact and he could hum a melody himself quite accurately. his problem was wholly one of auditory processing an inability to hold an auditory sequence of notes in memory.


rachel: I do hear, but in a way I hear too much. I absorb everything equally, to a degree that becomes at times a real torture. How does one listen with no filtering system?


rachel: when i listen to an orchestra i hear twenty intense laser voices. it is extremely difficult to integrate al these diff voices into some entity that makes sense.

where listening was linear vertical and horizontal at the same time, now it was horizontal only… her inability to integrate diff voices and instruments… dysharmonia


rachel: score as frame.. to prevent music from spreading all over the place… playing the piano and not just listening… would also help to integrate musical info ..

simultagnosia – split into discrete and unconnected segments: street sounds, domestic sounds. animal sounds…… meant she had to build up a picture of her auditory environ in a much more conscious and deliberate item by item way that rest of us do… advantage in forcing her to experience previously overlooked sounds with a supernormal attention and intensity..


virgil… vision was taxing for him, and when he shaved… he could see and recognize his face in the mirror at first, but after a few minutes, would have to struggle to hold on to a recognizable visual world. finally he would give up and shave by touch, because the visual image of his face had decomposed into unrecognizable fragments.


This musical imagery has been virtually extinguished by her injury, and that makes it difficult for her to transcribe what she has just improvised, for as soon as she reaches for her manuscript paper, in the seconds it takes her to put pen in hand, the music she has just played evaporates from her mind. With the difficulty in imagery comes a difficulty in working memory, and this makes it impossible for her to retain what she has just composed. “This is the major loss,” she told me. “I need a mediator between me and the printed page

a crucial breakthrough in 2006 – found a young collaborator and learned w/him to use a music processing computer. the computer can hold in its memory what she cannot hold in her own..and rachael can now explore the themes that she has created on the piano and transform them into notation or into the oices of diff instruments.

document everything.. as brain.. as data..


to those with absolute pitch, every tone, every key seems qualitatively different, each possessing its own “flavor” or “feel,” its own character

prejudice decrease as discrimination increases ness


it seems curious.. that absolute pitch is so rare – estimated less than one person in ten thousand…


There is a striking association of absolute pitch with early blindness (some studies estimate that about 50 percent of children born blind or blinded in infancy have absolute pitch). One of the most intriguing correlations occurs between absolute pitch and linguistic background. For the past few years, Diana Deutsch and her colleagues have studied such correlations in greater detail, and they observed in a 2006 paper that “native speakers of Vietnamese and Mandarin show very precise absolute pitch in reading lists of words” most of these subjects showed variation of a quarter tone or less. Deutsch et al. have also showed very dramatic differences in the incidence of absolute pitch in two populations of first-year music *students:

actually coming back to this location after skimming through this pitch/auditory ness to 3000 ish.. speech ness.. then realizing… for being so intent on listening.. perhaps i was missing something. [i was having trouble following first time through]

thinking of linguistic background and chomsky ness and wondering how much we are keeping ourselves mute.. because we’re formulating/manufacturing what we’re allowed to listen to. and then.. we’re formulated/manufactured by people listening to us. ie: can’t hear us.. we’re idiots or even idiot savants or even…

wondering if perhaps our most damaging (along with perhaps most beneficial) tech has been something such as the alphabet. in particular.. english/american alphabet. ie: instead of using it as an aide to communicate we’ve used it too much (isn’t anything too much) as a measurement of people. a labler of people. a hoop to jump through. a basic. when perhaps.. naturally.. that’s not us. and so… feedback loop broken.

*1st yr music students – is this who was in the study.. ? how would/could we ever see us.. our potential.. if we keep on with ie: science of people ness…


led deutsch et al to conjecture that if a given the opportunity infants can acquire ap (absolute pitch) as a feature of speech, which can then carry over to music..for those of nontonal language such as english, they felt.. the acquisition of ap during music training is analogous to learning the tones of a second language… seemed best before 8 yr old.


those w ap had exaggerated asymmetry between the volumes of the right and left planum temporale, structure in the brain that are important for the perception of speech and music.

While such categorical labeling is learned by all people with absolute pitch, it is not clear that this excludes a prior categorical perception of pitch that is not dependent on association and learning. And the insistence of many with absolute pitch on the unique perceptual qualities of every pitch—its “color” or “chroma”—suggests that ..

before the learning of categorical labels, there may be a purely perceptual categorization


saffran and griepentrog.. at ni of wisconsin.. found..

The infants, they found, relied much more heavily on absolute pitch cues; the adults, on relative pitch cues. This suggested to them that absolute pitch may be universal and highly adaptive in infancy but becomes maladaptive later and is therefore lost

book: the singing neanderthals – music and language have a common origin..ap.. as having been crucial to origins of both


With the development of “a compositional language and syntactic rules,” Mithen writes, “allowing an infinite number of things to be said, in contrast to the limited number of phrases that Hmmm allowed…the brains of infants and children would have developed in a new fashion, one consequence of which would have been the loss of perfect pitch in the majority of individuals, and a diminution of musical abilities.” We have little evidence as yet for this audacious hypothesis, but it is a tantalizing one

so fitting with earlier rant (right after 1782)


The outer hair cells serve, among other things, to calibrate or “tune” the inner hair cells, and they have an exclusively efferent nerve supply; they do not transmit nerve impulses to the brain, they get orders from the brain.

the message/map/whatever.. already w/in each person. listen to that..

so see brain and ear as forming a single functional system….the power of attention to pick out tiny but significant sound in our environment, to home in on a single soft voice in the ambient din of a crowded restaurant – is very remarkable and seems to depend on this ability to modulate cochlear function, as well as on purely cerebral mechanism.

the ability of the mind and brain to … *heightened by training and musical activities…

? are we sure.. or is it doing more damage.. than good..? sounds like what we’ve done to society in the name of efficiency.. no?


one of jacob’s concerns on his first visit to me was that he had never met /heard of anyone else w/condition like his.

(this seems to be a them throughout book) we’ve trained this thinking into ourselves so well.. ie: if i don’t know someone like this.. there’s something wrong with me. so.. tech can allow 2 sides to that.. help us ignore norms (as irrelevant) and help us find our people.. ie:  from one ness… hand parts find hand parts.. et al.. but not that compartmentalized.. not that permanent..ized..

section goes on to tell of major problem w/hearing loss as perpetuated by ‘the malady is usually a guarded secret’ – ie: performers reluctant to mention… for fear of losing standing/employability


through intensive musical activity, attention, and will, jacob’s brain has literally reshaped itself.


I was struck here by the analogy to the experience of those who lose the use of one eye, and with this their ability to see depth stereoscopically.69 The resonances of losing stereoscopy can be unexpectedly far-reaching, causing not only a problem in judging depth and distance, but a “flattening” of the whole visual world, a flattening that is both perceptual and emotional. People in this situation speak of feeling “disconnected,” of a difficulty in relating themselves not only spatially but emotionally to what they are seeing

on why we have two eyes/ears…


If one has lost stereoscopy or stereophony, one must, in effect,..

.. recalibrate one’s environment,’s spatial world—and movement here is especially important, even relatively small but very informative movements of the head

siddhartha ness again – restoring/kickstarting w/natural state ness…evidence of that .. would be that the placebo/kickstarter would be assumed to become irrelevant.. once natural ness was awakened..

ie: in this case.. a curious nodding of the head… which oliver took as a habit or a tic.

When I met him I was struck by a curious nodding of the head, and took this to be a habit or a tic. But he said it was nothing of the sort—it was a strategy designed to give his remaining eye alternating perspectives (such as normally the two eyes would receive), and this, he felt, combined with his memories of true stereopsis, could give him a sort of simulacrum of stereo vision. He said that he adopted these head movements after observing similar movements in animals (like birds and reptiles, for instance) whose visual fields have very little overlap.

If a concert hall or lecture hall is badly designed, sounds may be “killed,” voices and music seem dead.

if a city.. et al.. is badly designed…. people may be killed.. death of us ness

through centuries of experience, the builders of churches and auditoriums have become remarkably adept at making their buildings sing.

perhaps. perhaps not.


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..

perhaps too much these days..? supposed to’s ness… ie: have we taught ourselves that.. as we’ve built our cathedrals..

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. – edelman

gerald m edelman – speaks fo remembered present.

whoa. i don’t know. sounds like imagination is a prisoner.


I’ve always kept quiet about this architecture business, partly…because I’d never been entirely confident that “architecture” was what I really meant. Maybe “hearing music architecturally” was just me being inarticulate. But I am confident now. “Architecturally” was precisely right

goes on to say 3rd dimension brought in emotion.. which he (person writing to oliver) no longer had… it was the no longer having it that made him certain his articulation of it as architecture – 3d – was right..

on both – listening/trusting self/idiosyncracies and using them to ie: ps in the open ness..

he (same guy) still has the memory, the imagination, of what it was like to hear with two ears.


start of section heavy on savants – odd.. unable to keep up w classmates at school.. et al.. but w/curious powers


(Darold Treffert, in his remarkable book on savantism, Extraordinary People, notes that more than a third of all musical savants are blind or have very poor vision.) Martin was born with very severe visual problems, but this was not recognized and corrected until he was almost three, so in these early years he must have been nearly blind and dependent on hearing to orient him and make sense of the world. Or was it the meningitis, which, while stripping him of some of his cortical controls and higher powers, also stimulated or released previously unsuspected savant powers?


The anomaly is not in the skill itself, but in its isolation—its unusual and sometimes prodigious development in a mind that may otherwise be markedly *underdeveloped in verbal and abstract thought

*underdeveloped – balance seems huge.. meaning.. who decides underdeveloped verbal/abstract thought ness..

ie: he cannot tie his shoes, he cannot add three plus two, but he can play you a movement of a beethoven symphony and can transpose it to any key.

so.. are tying shoes, adding on demand, … basic..? essential..? essentially basic..?


The functional (and perhaps immunological) immaturity of the left hemisphere in utero and during infancy makes it unusually susceptible to damage, and if such damage occurs—so Geschwind and Galaburda have hypothesized—there may be a compensatory overdevelopment of the right hemisphere, an actual enlargement made possible by neuronal migration. This may reverse the normal course of events and produce an anomalous right-hemisphere dominance instead of the usual left-hemisphere dominance


savantlike talents… following brain injuries, stokes, tumors, and frontotemporal dementia, esp if the damage is confined initially to the left temporal lobe.

the rapidity with which savant talents may emerge in such circumstances suggests a disinhibition or release of right hemisphere functions from an inhibition or suppression normally exerted by the left temporal lobe.

In 1999, Allan Snyder and D. J. Mitchell inverted the usual question of why savant talents are so rare and asked instead: why don’t we all have savant talents? They suggested that the mechanism for such skills might reside in all of us in early life but that as the brain matures, they are inhibited, at least from conscious awareness. They theorized that savants might have “privileged access to lower levels of information not available through introspection


One must infer that there are, in many individuals, at least, very concrete eidetic and mnemonic powers which are normally hidden, but which may surface or be released under exceptional conditions. The existence of such potentials is only intelligible in evolutionary and developmental terms, as early forms of perception and cognition which once had adaptive value but are now suppressed and superseded by other forms

huge. on so many levels.

our words.. because we assume they are a finishing.. are perpetuating not us ness.


studies showing 40-60% of blind children he taught had absolute pitch…. compared to 10% among sighted musicians…


1/3 or more of human cortex is concerned w/vision. if visual input suddenly lose, very extensive reorganizations and remappings may occur in the cerebral cortex, w/development sometimes of intermodal sensations of all sorts… when born/early blind.. the massive visual cortex, far from remaining functionless, is reallocated to other sensory inputs, especially hearing and touch…even when blindness later in life..


i saw music too much to be able to speak its language.. – jacques lusseyran w/ synesthesia


can you imagine one night five years long.. no dreaming.. no waking, not touch/taste/smell/sight/sound/hearing.. – on clive … the only times of feeling alive were when deborah visited him..


he remembers almost nothing unless he is actually doing it..


clive’s verbosity made him a little odd, a little too much at times, but it was highly adaptive – it enable him to reenter the world of human discourse.


there are clearly many sorts of memory, and emotional memory is one of the deepest and least understood


on not remembering lectures or beethoven’s fifth.. but neither could one ever hear again those first four notes as just four notes..


neurologists refer to a ‘speech area’ in the premotor zone of brain’s dominant (usually left) frontal lobe. damage here… may produce expressive aphasia, a loss of spoken language.

we are a linguistic species – we turn to language to express whatever we are thinking.

? is that right? i don’t know.

much of this can change with the discovery that such patients can sing – .. so cut-offness seems less… though singing is not propositional communication, it is a very basic existential communication..

? i don’t know..


.. the words are still ‘in’ them, somewhere, even though it may take music to bring them out.

? – maybe we look beyond words..? and/or maybe we created that silence..

whenever i see patients w/expressive aphasia, i sing happy birthday .. virtually all… start to join in… about 1/2 get the words right too

language and music both depend on phonatory and articulatory mechanisms that are rudimentary in other primates, and both depend for their appreciation on distinctly human brain mechanisms dedicated to the analysis of complex segmented rapidly changing streams of sound. and yet there are major differences and some overlaps in the representation of speech and song in the brain.

patients w/so-called nonfluent aphasia not only have an impairment of vocab and grammar, but have forgotten or lost the feeling of the rhythms and inflections of speech; hence the broken,unmusical telegraphic style of their speech, to the extent that they still have any words available…


so-called dynamic aphasia where it is not the structure of sentences that is affected but the initiation of speech… … he was also able to recite… he was able to read a passage chosen..


many aphasic patients can get not only the words of songs, but can learn to repeat sequences or series – days of the week, months of yr, numerals, etc…. only as automated sequences. such sequences unfold, once they are started, in much the same way as music does…

hughlings jackson long ago distinguished ‘propositional’ speech from what he called, variously ’emotional..ejaculate or automatic’ speech, stressing that the latter could be preserved in aphasia, sometimes to a starling extend, even when the former was grossly impaired. cursing is often cited as a dramatic form of automatic speech, but singing familiar lyrics can be seen as equally automatic; a person w/aphasia may be able to sing or curse or recite a poem but not to utter a propositional phrase.


the question of whether singing has any use in the recovery of speech, then, can be formulated another way: can language embedded in *unconscious automatism be ‘released’ for conscious, propositional use?

*unconscious – is this also.. not what speech is.. to a degree.. because of the rules et al..

his work was published in russian…. though neither was *translated or known in the west until several decades later

*translated – whoa. fractal.. of us not getting the ‘words’ in us

first there was a ‘core’ of tissue destruction, which was irreversible; and second, a larger, surrouding area, or penumbra, of depressed or inhibited function, which under certain conditions, he felt, might be reversible..

when first meeting patient… it is crucial to start therapy, to promote what luria called – de inhibition.


music therapy.. ca succeed were conventional speech therapy has failed… it may be that cortical areas previously inhibited but not destroyed can be *de-inhibited, kick-started into action, by reexperiencing language, even if it is of a wholly automatic sort, language embedded in music

*de-inhibitied .. kick started… de toxed

a very crucial aspect of speech or music therapy for the aphasic patient is the relationship between therapist and patient. luria emphasized that the origin of speech was social o less than neurological – it required the interaction of mother and child.

unlike motor fix – as in parkinsonism… where a tape or cd.. can do as much as therapist… with speech disorders… relationship matters… this intimate working *together this working in tandem, depends on mirror neurons throughout the brain, which enable the patient not only to **imitate but to incorporate the actions or abilities of others..

*together – siddhartha… part of us back in us.. to kickstart us.. more than poop transplant et al

** imitate – model a nother way .. still have to be looking.. caring… to see/get what’s modeled.. to hear (go back and read prior sections i skimmed.. on auditory ness)

therapist not only provides support and an encouraging presence, but literally *leads the patient into more and more complex forms of speech.


w/samuel s… this involved drawing language out until he could sing all words…

it might be said that such verbal responses are modest, limited, and *formulaic – but they do represent a radical advance from purely automatic speech, and they can have an enormous effect on the daily reality of an **aphasic person’s life, allowing a formerly mute and isolated person to ***reenter a verbal world, a world h had seemingly lost forever

*formulaic – indeed… so what if there’s a notehr way.. to communicate… lanier ness

** aphasic – loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage..

***reenter – perhaps entry .. re entry.. works best (or never has to happen)  if we listen to idiosyncrasies.. rather than mute/change them..


but perhaps even more remarkable is the notion that the right hemisphere, which in normal circumstances has only the most rudimentary linguistic capacities, can be turned into a reasonably efficient linguistic organ with less than three months of training – and that music is the key to this transformation.


sang an old ballad

trust and obey – comes off the tongue..but the words.. ?


David Aldridge, a professional jazz drummer, explored these themes in a memoir entitled “Rhythm Man”: I’ve been banging on car dashboards since I was six years old, following and flowing with the rhythm until it poured out of my ears…. Rhythm and Tourette syndrome have been intertwined from the first day I found that drumming on a table could mask my jerky hand, leg and neck movements…. This newly found masking actually harnessed my unbounded energy, directing it into an orderly flow…. This “*permission to explode” let me tap into vast reservoirs of sounds, and physical sensations, and I realized that my destiny lay clearly before me. I was to become a rhythm man

*permission – spaces of permission .. and who.. auto correct changed that to remission..

harnessing his tourette’s and expressing himself in creative, unpredictable musical improvisations seemed to be deeply intertwined..


i could see eruptions of tics, contagions of tics, rippling around the thirty-odd touretters there – but once the drum circle started, with matt leading them, all the ticcing disappeared w/in seconds. suddenly there was synchronization, and they came together as a group, performing ‘int eh moment w/the rhythm’ as matt puts it – their tourettic energy, motor exuberance, playfulness, and inventiveness all drawn upon creatively and given expression in the music. music here had a double power: first, to reconfigure brain activity, and bring calm and focus to people who were sometimes distracted or preoccupied by incessant tics and impulses; and second, to promote a musical and social bonding w/others, so that what began as a miscellany of isolated, often distressed or self-conscious individuals almost instantly became a cohesive group w/a single aim- a verbiage drum orchestra under matt’s baton.


Van Bloss developed his first, rather explosive symptoms when he was seven, attracting savage ridicule and bullying from his schoolmates. There was no intermission in his ticcing until his family got a piano, and this was to transform his life. “Suddenly I had a piano,” he writes in his memoir, Busy Body, “and, as if handed to me on a plate, I found my *love…. When I played, my tics almost seemed to disappear. It was like a miracle. I would tic, gyrate, and verbally explode all day at school, get home exhausted from it all and run to the piano and play for as long as I could, not only because I loved the sounds I was making, but primarily because when I played I didn’t tic. I got time off from the ticcy normality that had become me.” When I discussed this with van Bloss, he spoke of it partly in terms of “**energy”—it was not, he felt, that his Tourette’s had disappeared, but that it was now being “harnessed and focused” and, specifically, that his compulsions to touch could now be consummated by touching the keys of the piano. “I was simultaneously feeding and fuelling my Tourette’s by giving it a thing it so ***craved: touch,” he writes. “The piano appealed to my fingers…provided touch heaven for me—eighty-eight keys all sitting and waiting for my needy little fingers

*love – James Rhodes

**energy – energy ness

***craved – crave/desire.. something waiting for (listening to) my needy fingers…

i found it esp fascinating to *listen to a conversation between nick van bloss and .. picker,.. distinguished composer..


on the tics being gone.. but tourettes still there.. on the contrary, his tourette’s enters into his creative *imagination. contributing to his music but also being shaped and modulated by it i love my life controlled by r’s .. but i use music to control it. i have harnessed its energy – i play with it, manipulate it, trick it, mimic it, taunt it, explore it, exploit it, in every possible way.

*imagination/curiosity.. as cure

Tourette’s brings out in stark form questions of will and determination: who orders what, who pushes whom around. To what extent are people with Tourette’s controlled by a sovereign “I,” a complex, self-aware, intentional self, *or by impulses and feelings at lower levels in the brain-mind? Similar questions are brought up by musical hallucinations, and **brainworms, and varied forms of quasi-automatic echoing and imitation. Normally we are not aware of what goes on in our brains, of the innumerable agencies and forces inside us that lie outside or below the level of conscious experience—and perhaps this is just as well. Life becomes more complicated, sometimes unbearably so, for people with eruptive tics or obsessions or hallucinations, forced into daily, incessant ***contact with rebellious and autonomous mechanisms in their own brains

*or – two choices.. intent or impulse.. is second whimsy..? or are both..?

**brainworms – ie: haunted by continuous looping of music in head

***contact – whoa. this sentence.. contact with.. conscious of.. rebellion.. autonomy w/in.. so.. did we create this rebellion.. and might we then as well make man made constructs outside of us.. in society.. et al irrelevant.. by joining in the dance.. even if temporarily placebo ish..


on leg injury in norway…  w/this internal rhythm and music, i was musicked along…. after 15 days after surgery – found i had strangely, ‘forgotten’ how to walk. there was only a sort of pseudowalking -conscious, cautious, unreal, step-by[step/ i would make steps that were too large or too *small, … music came to my aid.. i had been playing mendelssohn’s for two weeks prior to… now suddenly as i was standing, the concerto started to play itself w/intense vividness in my mind. .. in this moment, the natural rhythm and melody of walking came back to me, and along with this, the **feeling of me leg as alive, as part of me once again. ***i suddenly ‘remembered’ how to walk.


**feeling of my leg alive.. this is the placebo ness…

***and i remembered .. how to walk. a nother way. or an original way.. deep w/in each of us..


imagination is subdued and the patient cannot remember how to stand or walk

Beyond the repetitive motions of walking and dancing, music may allow an ability to organize, to follow intricate sequences, or to hold great volumes of information in mind—this is the narrative or mnemonic power of music.


and he once mistook his wife for a hat


How much such recitation depends on musical rhythm and how much purely on linguistic rhyming is difficult to tell, but these are surely related—both “rhyme” and “rhythm” derive from the Greek, carrying the conjoined meanings of measure, motion, and stream.


The rather mechanical term “entrainment” is sometimes used in regard to the human tendency to keep time, to make motor responses to rhythm. But research has now shown that so-called responses to rhythm actually precede the external beat. We anticipate the beat, we get rhythmic patterns as soon as we hear them, and we establish internal models or templates of them. These internal templates are astonishingly precise and stable; as Daniel Levitin and Perry Cook have shown, humans have very accurate memories for tempo and rhythm


3335 – (i read page number as song: da da da dum.. what song is that.. looking it up i found and fell into the pool with chopin)


leibniz said of music that it is counting, but counting unconsciously, and this is precisely what swimming to strauss is all about (for oliver)

special sense of combining movement and sound – appears spontaneously in human children, but not in any other primate, forces one to reflect on it phylogenetic origins….

he concludes that musical rhythm evolved independently of speech


anthony storr, in his excellent book music and the mind


rhythm and its entrainment of movement (and often emotion) its power to ‘move’ people, in both sense of the word, may well have had a crucial cultural and economic function in human evolution


merlin donald in his astonishing 1991 book, origins of the modern mind….. donald proposes that mimesis .. the power to represent emotions, external events, or stories using only gesture and posture, movement and sound, but not language – is still the bedrock of human culture today..



Just as rapid neuronal oscillations bind together different functional parts within the brain and nervous system, so rhythm binds together the individual nervous systems of a human community


when we walk our steps emerge in a rhythmical stream, a flow that  is automatic and self-organizing. in parkinsonism, this normal, happy automation is gone

all of them (from awakenings) were victims of encephalitis lethargica, the epidemic sleeping sickness that swept the globe just after ww1.. and some had been frozen.. 40 years


while power of music has been known for millennia, idea of formal music therapy arose only n the late 1940s esp in response to the large numbers of soldiers returning …. w/shell shock…. ptsd


novalis: every disease is a musical problem, every cure is a musical solution..


the clock on the wall of the ward seems to e going exceptionally fast… gooddy wrote of the sometimes enormous disparities such patients can show between ‘personal time’ and ‘clock time’

but if music is present its tempo and speed take precedence over the parkinsonism and allow parkinsonian patients to return, while the music lasts, to their own rate of moving…

Music, indeed, resists all attempts at hurrying or slowing, and imposes its own tempo.

but he loved music and he had a small organ in his room. with this – and this only – when he sat down and played, he could bring his two hands, his two sides, together in unison and synchrony….


fundamental problem in parkinsonism is the inability to initiate movement spontaneously’ parkinsonian patients are always getting ‘stuck’ or ‘frozen’… gerald edelman in *the remembered present, refers to the basal ganglia along w/the cerebellum and hippocampus, as the organs of succession

*book – not available on overdrive

if the damage is very severe, the parkinsonian may be reduced to virtual immobility and silence – not paralyzed but in a sense ‘locked in’ unable  by himself to initiate any movement, and yet perfectly able to respond to certain stimuli…. most potent unlocker here is music…

loved piano.. as soon as sat… her stuck hand came down to keyboard .. face became full of expression… music liberated her from parkinsonism.. not only playing it but imagining it.. … rosalie kew all of chopin by heart, and we had only to say opus 49 to see her whole body posture and expression change… her eeg too would become normal at such time…


recorded music not portable at this time… but now.. have hundreds of tunes on ipod… while the extreme availability of music may have its own dangers (brainworms.. et al).. this availability is an unmitigated boon for those w/parkinsonism


movement or exercise of any kind is beneficial.. an ideal combo of music and movement is provided by dance.. (and dancing w/a partner, or in a social setting, brings to bear other therapeutic dimensions….. the dance they employ is the argentine tango.. and they enumerate the advantages: a dance done in an embrace or fram, unlike swing or salsa..


The tango technique develops focus and attention to task while a dancer executes the movements, be it turning, stepping, balancing, or a combination of all three…. Argentine tango allows both participants an enormous amount of flexibility and choice in movement. Unlike waltz or foxtrot, no one step must follow another. The leader can choose to turn in place, to travel in any direction, or to remain stationary while enjoying the music. The interpretation of tempo and rhythm are also up to the whim of the leader, and beautifully matched by the follower because it is acceptable to move energetically or to pause for an extra beat. Free to constantly improvise, and create unique rhythms for every moment of the dance, a couple dances in sync to the meter of the music. One can rarely be “wrong’ while dancing argentine tango..

choice.. whimsy… while yet.. being held..


some developed chorea – sudden, irregular, uncontrollable movements affecting trunk, limbs, and face – as a side effect of treatment with l-dopa. the power of dancing to control or facilitate movement for thiese patients was dramatically show in 1974 doc – discovery series awakenings, yorkshire tv..

huntington’s disease

also ability to pick up rhythmic movement from an animal… ie: equestrian therapy

nietzshe was intensely interested .. in relationship of art and esp music, to physiology. he spoke of its ‘tonic’ effect – its power of arousing the nervous system in a general way, esp during states of physiological and psychological depression (he was himself often depressed, physio and psycho, by sever migraines)


rhythmic vitality and exuberance, he thought, expressed itself most naturally in the form of dance. he called his own philosophizing ‘dancing in chains’ and thought the strongly rhythmic music of bizet as ideally suited to this. he would often take his notebook to bizet concerts; he wrote, ‘bizet makes me a better philosopher.

music did everything l dopa (still in future) would do.. metaphorically, like auditory dopamine – a *prosthesis for the damaged basal ganglia

siddhartha – rna as prothesis – then to society level et al..

It is music that the parkinsonian needs, for only music, which is rigorous yet spacious, sinuous and alive, can evoke responses that are equally so. And he needs not only the metrical structure of rhythm and the free movement of melody—its contours and trajectories, its ups and downs, its tensions and relaxations—but the “will” and *intentionality of music, to allow him to regain the freedom of his own kinetic melody.

*siddhartha ness.. placebo of awakeness


weir mitchell, novelist as well as neurologist.. was fascinated by descriptionns he received from soldiers – and he was first to take the phenomenon of phantom limbs seriously.. 1866 — 1872 –  book injuries of nerves and their consequences..

although the phantoms may be intrusive or even painful (esp if limb was painful immediately before amputation) they ay also be of great service to amputee, enabling to learn hot to move prosthetic limb…

before weir mitchell’s account, phantom limbs were regarded as purely psychic hallucinations conjured up by bereavement…. comparable to apparitions of loved ones that mourners may experience for some weeks after their loss.


A sort of perverse learning is involved in the genesis of focal dystonia, and once the mappings in the sensory cortex have gone wrong, a massive act of unlearning is needed if a healthier relearning is to occur. And unlearning, as all teachers and trainers know, is very difficult, sometimes impossible.

(prior to on overload from complexity of ie: intense piano playing)

mark hallett and his group were pioneers in the experiment ause of botox to treat musician’s dystonia, and they found that small, carefully placed injection might allow a level of muscular relaxation that did not trigger the chaotic feedback.

placebo ness… of detox.. to kick start us back to breathing..


suddenly i realized that the most important thing in my life was not playing with two hands, it was music.. – leon fleisher


I had the feeling that Fleisher had 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

what we need to do for people… and we can.. listen to and dance/play with idiosyncrasies..

discrimination to infinity.. everyday anew.. reinvent.. listen..change.. dance.. bowie.. be you


oliver in 1974 – bad dream. awoke. music continued.. translated from german for him – about death of children. right after he had resigned from children’s unit in hospital. then music disappeared.


on hearing songs in dreams and waking and writing them, ie: paul mccartney


IRVING J. MASSEY points out that “music is the only faculty that is not altered by the dream environment, whereas action, character, visual elements and language may all be modified or distorted in dreams.” More specifically, he writes, “music in dream does not become fragmented, chaotic or incoherent, neither does it decay as rapidly as do the other components of dreams on our awakening

one might say.. music never sleeps… as if it were an autonomous system.. indifferent to our consciousness or lack of it.. – massey


it is clear .. the musical dream is not merely a curiosity, but a potential source of valuable info.. on some of the deepest questions about the nature of art and brain.


technical correctness alone is not enough; once this is achieved, emotion must return, or one may be left w/nothing beyond an arid virtuosity. it is always a balance, a coming together, that is needed.


i was demanding that the music work, where experience had shown me that demanding never succeeds. the power of music, whether joyous or cathartic, must steal on one unawares, come spontaneously as a blessing or a grace..


on music as abstract and 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…. brings both pain and solace at the same time.


charlotte began to imitate his noises, immediately catching his attention


they were minutely aware of personal details, they seemed to study people’s faces with extraordinary attention, and they showed great sensitivity in reading others’ emotions and moods (williams syndrome)


she was ravenous for language


when one camper encountered another camper or group of campers involved in a musical activity.. the newcomers would either join in immediately or begin swaying appreciatively to the music.. this consuming involvement with music is unusual in normal populations.. we have rarely encountered this type of total immersion even among professional musicians.


brains of williams individuals organized differently from normals, at both macro and micro level


and yet, beneath the superficial similarities among people with williams syndrome, there is an individuality that, as with us all, is largely determined by experience.


on book title – the loss of self – bothering him…. but does the loss of one’s self-awareness, or some aspects of mind, constitute loss of self?


parkinsonism: must have firm rhythmic character.. but need not be familiar; aphasics: lyrics and interaction w/therapist; dementia: far broader.. seeks to address emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts, and memories, the surviving self of the patient to stimulate these and bring them to the fore. it aims to enrich and enlarge existence, to give freedom, stability, organization, and focus.


mary ellen .. felt her father’s civility and courtesy, his sensitive and thoughtful behavior, to be almost telepathic. the way he reads my mother’s face to find out how she is doing.. the way he reads her mood, the way he reads people in social situations and acts accordingly .. is beyond mimicking..


but what does it mean to say.. this is dec 19, 1991.. when one is sunk in the profoundest amnesia… knowing the date means nothing in these circumstances. (on putting things to music for them to get it)

Ed ness – great use music.. but make it be about stuff that matters…


holding someone, making the movements of dance with them, may initiate a dancing response (perhaps in part by the activation of mirror neurons)… a sense of physical identity and consciousness – a form of consciousness that is perhaps the deepest of all..


rhythm can restore our sense of embodiment and a primal sense of movement and life.


music as health

Samuel Cohen – alz

Andrew Schulman


how they sell music on streets of mexico

Just wow.

Original Tweet:


what happens inside brain when you listen to music:


power of music


amy share

Because so many brain disorders are caused when the brain loses its rhythm and fires in an offbeat or ‘dysrhythmic’ way, music therapy is especially promising for these conditions. The rhythms of music medi­cine can provide a noninvasive way to get the brain back ‘on beat.’



the music instinct (d0c)

generative music

Edward Hardy

david helfgott