Daniel Levitin worked with Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison and Santana and knows a lot about music, except for one thing – where does it come from.
In the early morning, students slowly fill out one of the classrooms at New York University, where a lecture on music perception will take place. Two girls came first – one with black painted nails, the other in hooligan vintage high-heeled boots.
Behind them is a young man with turquoise hair. It is easy to imagine how they would react to Professor Daniel Levitin, a 40-year-old lecturer, with a mobile phone on his wrist dressed in black jeans and a tie with a crazy pattern – what is it, the fiber of wood? Or bacteria unrealistically magnified by a microscope?
Levitin’s lecture, based on his new book, “This is Your Brain on Music,” begins with a tortured metaphor: something about lakes, boats, and a cork popping out of a bottle. So the neuroscientist is trying to explain to students the amazing sensitivity of the eardrum – “just a pair of skin flaps tightly stretched over the bone and oscillating back and forth.” Continue reading