Monthly Archives: October 2008

Levitin’s recent book: The World in Six Songs

Thanks to Adam for spotting this. Daniel Levitin has published a new book this year. The World in Six Songs looks really interesting and I’m looking forward to receiving my copy from Amazon in due course. In the meantime, I’ve read a couple of interesting and critical reviews. This one, from the Science Blog, was helpful; as was this one, from the New York Times. For those of you that are wondering what the six songs are all about, this short quote will give you a taster as to structure of Levitin’s book:

Through a process of co-evolution of brains and music, through the structures throughout our cortex and neocortex, from our brain stem to the prefrontal cortex, from the limbic system to the cerebellum, music uniquely insinuates itself into our heads. It does this in six distinctive ways, each of them with their own evolutionary basis…

Each of the six distinctive ways receives a chapter within the book. Intrigued? I was.

Music Teaching website is live

The new Music Teaching website has gone live. I think it was launched officially at the NAME conference last weekend but there seem to be a lot of members there already and people are getting stuck into providing resources and the like. It’s well worth a visit. You’ll need to create an account if you want to view all the content. I found the design a bit weird but that’s probably just me.

MuseScore, a well equipped replacement for Notepad

We always used to plug Finale Notepad as a free and well-equipped music notation software package. Unfortunately, Make Music have decided to charge for this product (only $9.95 though). So, what are the freeware alternatives that could be used on either Macs or PCs. One good looking alternative is MuseScore. This was mentioned recently on and there is a good review there. There is also a good comparison between Notepad and MuseScore here by David Bolton. So, thankfully, there are still open source solutions for a world dominated by Sibelius and Finale.

Unfortunately, there is no Mac install package, so you’ll have to revert to the Linux version at the moment. :(

Your Brain on Music

My wife found me this excellent book about music and the brain by Daniel Levitin. Levitin was a record producter and musician who now works as a neuroscientist. It is a fascinating account of how your brain responds to music, as a ‘passive’ (wrong term) listener or active performer or composer.

There are numerous points of departure for the music educator and perhaps I’ll follow up a few of them in future posts. One chapter (Chapter 7) about musical talent and expertise caught my eye. It reminded me of the very well established research findings about how long it takes to become an ‘expert’ musician (or professional sportsman, writer, chess player or even master criminal!). The answer is 10,000 hours over ten years (that’s approximately 3 hours practice a day) as early as possible in one’s life. Levitin explores this notion (both arguments for and against) and provides some interesting evidence about memory and how it is formed in the early periods of one’s life. Fascinating stuff.