Cordelia Fine: A Mind of its Own

July 13, 2007

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For those of you brave enough to learn about how your brain distorts and deceives reality (that’s right: YOUR reality) I can’t recommend highly enough Cordelia Fine’s “a mind of its own” [Norton]. I am actually the Wizard of Oz, or I think I am, and behind the scenes is this busy little man huffing and puffing and creating a big scene, hoping you won’t discover what’s really going on. The chapter titles speak for themselves: The Vain Brain; The Emotional Brain; The Immoral Brain; The Deluded Brain; The Pig-headed Brain; The Secretive Brain; The Weak-Willed Brain; The Bigoted Brain; and The Vulnerable Brain.

For someone who truly wishes to “know thyself” this is a must read.

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» A Mind of its Own ComposerBastard: :: caught between subcultures - wanted by none ::
August 7, 2007 at 3:15 am

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

ComposerBastard July 13, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Thanks for the recommendation.

Every few years, I take a look around and see whats out there in Cog-Sci writing, as I believe there is a real disconnect between music theory and how we perceive and remember music. Its still a young science.

Right now, I am reading
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC by Daniel J. Levitin
http://www.amazon.com/This-Your-Brain-Music-Obsession/dp/0525949690

which I pass on as a payback. Its a pretty good start this time around.

Roger Bourland July 13, 2007 at 3:14 pm

I’m with you on all of the above. I blogged on Levitin’s book and am reading it again. I love that he’s half rocker-dude and half cognitive scientist in music.

I just came from a meeting at UCLA where we are trying to convince colleagues to toss out the old models and start anew.

I’m on the front lines on this one and it’s stimulating but a tough battle.

ComposerBastard July 13, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Yaaa…good luck in that battle. I’m well versed on pitch theoretics – the usual Morris, Lewin, Cone stuff. I use it quite a lot for my own structural or perhaps psychological reasons just to give me some writing goal, but really only about 10% seems to serve a composers needs (or at least mine). I find the rest myopic and baseless, and its always my personal battle to work into something (which i guess is part the challenge).

Fred Lerdahl’s stuff (A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, Tonal Pitch Space) was I thought for a while on the right track. Interesting, but I still see no scientific basis, and he tended to fall back into the “crisp” east coast school mentality of rules – maybe out of fear for his tenure….

I’m still looking for new ideas…

Anyway…if you have any other Cog-Sci/music recommendations please throw some up in the future…

PK July 14, 2007 at 7:02 am

It really makes my morning, reading your discussion on this, and noticing the willingness to ponder the possibilities. The world is awash with music departments hanging on to some very old models (this has been my experience in returning to academia in the last few years). There are open people, here and there, but the institutions themselves are being very slow.

I think that the wall that mus cog/per is pushing against, is like many of the sciences at this time, a function of too small a focus. The need to step back, and maybe through a closer look at the evolutionary process behind our neurological development, garnering a greater understanding of the total creature and music’s true biological function.

I find film music so particularly interesting, as it seems closer to the original purpose of human musical development, as an adjunct to narrative survival tools (stand alone music has developed into a more complex and higher level function, making it even more difficult to assess).

Anyway, you guys have made my morning.

ComposerBastard July 16, 2007 at 5:28 pm

I picked up a copy over the weekend. This turned out to be a great read and helpful in the context of ones own private musical education as well =).

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