Wednesday, 20 May 1998

John A. Sloboda: The Musical Mind (1985)

Edition: Oxford University Press, 1986
Review number: 51

This is a really excellent book for anyone interested in how the mind perceives and understands music. As the author points out, most of the literature in this area is either written by psychologists who are not musicians, or by musicians with no background in psychology. John Sloboda is unusual in being both a musician and a psychologist, teaching the piano as well as being a professor of psychology. The fact that he is involved in both fields means that he avoids the trap of missing the parts of the musical experience which are important to the musician that the psychologists often fall into - particularly when they are devising experiments. He can also avoid the complementary trap of devising explanations of musical phenomena which are psychologically discredited which musicians often fall into.

The book covers current research in just about every area you could imagine, from musical education to composing and improvising to pitch, rhythm and musical structure perception and understanding. Sloboda also suggests areas where more research is needed.

This is a thought provoking book, and one to which I am sure I will return again and again.

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