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This is important book which deserves a wide readership well beyond its obvious musically minded target audience if music’s potential benefits for the human psyche and physical well being are at last to be fully appreciated. And hopefully the odd politician will pick it up.

Why an important book? Well, Victoria Williamson, a British lecturer/researcher in the psychology of music, does a huge service by pulling together the voluminous international research on the effects music can have on the brain/nervous system and distilling it in an intelligent yet accessible and utterly readable fashion. The range of references is mind-boggling, yet the book wears its intellectual outer-garments lightly. Not the least fascinating aspect is the sheer ingenuity of the myriad research projects in this field – even in unlikely countries (you might pompously think) such as Tunisia.

Williamson’s framework is a narrative progression from prenatal perceptions of music through to old age – where music’s potential role in treating such conditions as dementia and Alzheimer’s is outlined. Music’s appropriate place in work and leisure environments is explored. There is a wealth of practical advice on how to use music to positive effect in our lives, whether to enhance mood or improve performance – memory or physical training, for example. There is even a section offering clear-headed thoughts on the role of music in romance – dating businesses, it seems, are well aware of the importance of taking musical preferences into account when match-making.

In short, there is something relevant to most people’s life-condition in You Are The Music, although those who merely dip in will miss out on much that’s fascinating and intriguing. The only mild complaint is that the range of visual images thrown up by the nature of the subject matter and Williamson’s vivid writing somehow demands actual illustrations to enhance the text. Never mind.

ANDREW GREEN Read the full review on Agora Classica

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