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Psychobiology & Communication

Why Do We Have Music?

Why is music in all cultures and all parts of the world?    What purpose does music serve?  And if we need it, what does it do to us?  You Are What You Hear provides the answers to all these questions with the most up-to-date science and humorous anecdotes from the history of pop culture, revealing why music makes us feel so good — or why the wrong music makes us feel so bad.

But this book goes further.   Dr Witchel, who researches music, pleasure and the brain, suggests that we evolved music for the same reason as birds and gibbons.   We use music to establish social territory.  In this way, music can influence what you think, what you decide to buy, and even how smart you are. Music stirs such powerful emotions in us because territory is not a place — it is a state of mind. 

The book explores, in a way never previously done, the human relationship with music and how music makes us who we are.  It is a fast and engaging read where each chapter teases apart a simple but deep enigma.

Chapter Titles

  1. Why do we listen to music?
  2. Why does music make sex better?
  3. Why do some people love Beethoven and others rap music?
  4. Is musical taste 100% nurture, or is there a role for nature?
  5. Why do aggressive young men blare out booming music from their cars?
  6. Why do people listen to sad music?
  7. Does listening to violent music make you violent?
  8. Does listening to Mozart make you smarter or just happier?
  9. Can learning music enhance your brain?
  10. Can music secretly influence what we decide to buy in shops?
  11. Can music cure?
  12. The Power of Music

News and Events

book cover You Are What You Hear 

Who Should Read This Book
Part science, part fun, the book is as suitable for the casual reader as it is for students, culture mavens, researchers, and musicians. Written in a lively and engaging style, the book will have a broad appeal not only to the general public, but to students interested in the relationship between music and culture. Because of this, anyone from seventeen to seventy will gain something from this book.

For the students of cultural studies, media studies, and music technology, the book contains over 500 references with easy to follow citations back to original sources. For music lovers and casual readers, the book makes its points by telling surprising and often humorous stories. For example, to illustrate the all too human basis of music, the book recounts amazing stories from pop culture and the history of music, ranging from the tale of a student bar where they dance naked to the theme tune from Baywatch, to the purchase of a woman's disguise to be used by Hector Berlioz to sneak up on his cheating fiancee and future mother-in-law so he could murder them.