Das neue Buch von Oliver Sacks: So funktioniert Musik

Das Buch „Der Mann der seine Frau mit einem Hut verwechselte“ habe ich verschlungen. In ihm berichtet der Neurologe Oliver Sacks von den unterschiedlichsten Krankheitsfällen, zum Beispiel von einem Mann, der sein Bein nicht mehr wiedererkennt und denkt, es sei ein fremdes, das er aus dem Bett wirft (würde ich mit einem fremden Bein in meinem Bett auch so machen) und sich gleich hinterher. Klasse Buch, sehr zu empfehlen!

Im Oktober bringt Sacks nun sein neues Buch „Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain“ auf den Markt und es handelt von den Reaktionen des Gehirns auf Musik. Auf Wired gibt es ein fantastisches Interview:

Wired: When you were growing up, hearing music often required going to see it performed. But iPods make music ubiquitous, like mental air-conditioning. What have we gained or lost by that?

Sacks: At first it would seem to be a wonderful gain. Darwin might have had to go to London to see a concert. But I can’t help wondering if the incidence of earworms and musical hallucinations is higher now, with background music in every public place. You can’t go to a restaurant without music, and they get offended if you ask them to turn it off. They feel it’s part of their creativity — they’re doing it for you.

The brain is very sensitive to music; you don’t have to attend to it to record it internally and be affected by it. I think we may be exposed to too much loud and repetitive music. One patient of mine has epileptic seizures induced by music and has to wear earplugs in New York City. It’s a dangerous place for him.


Wired: You write that there was a time in med school when you took a lot of amphetamines. What’s the most vivid experience of music you ever had on drugs?

Sacks: Hume wondered whether one can imagine a color that one has never encountered. One day in 1964, I constructed a sort of pharmacological mountain, and at its peak, I said, “I want to see indigo, now!” As if thrown by a paintbrush, a huge, trembling drop of purest indigo appeared on the wall — the color of heaven. For months after that, I kept looking for that color. It was like the lost chord.

Then I went to a concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the first half, they played the Monteverdi Vespers, and I was transported. I felt a river of music 400 years long running from Monteverdi’s mind into mine. Wandering around during the interval, I saw some lapis lazuli snuffboxes that were that same wonderful indigo, and I thought, “Good, the color exists in the external world.” But in the second half I got restless, and when I saw the snuffboxes again, they were no longer indigo — they were blue, mauve, pink. I’ve never seen that color since.

It took a mountain of amphetamine, mescaline, and cannabis to launch me into that space. But Monteverdi did it too.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (englisch)
Der Mann, der seine Frau mit einem Hut verwechselte