TONE DEAF AND ALL THUMBS? by Frank R. Wilson

TONE DEAF AND ALL THUMBS?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An Invitation to Music-Making for Late Bloomers and Non-ProdigiesA synthesis of science and music, with an emphasis on the science. Wilson, a professor of neurology, has parlayed a late entrance in the mysteries of the piano into an exploration of just what goes into the playing and listening of music from an auditory, muscular, and neurological standpoint. Music, he says, stems from four physiological mechanisms: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic (the conscious manipulation of muscular contractions to control an instrument). In addition, a verbal system also allows either intra- or inter-personal feedback about one's performance. Unfortunately, this kind of approach, while informative, will disappoint those who, led on by the title, might expect helpful advice (or an easy way out) in learning an instrument. Quite the most interesting chapter, thrown in almost as a diversion, is one on stage fright, in which Wilson discusses the problem and the supposed solution in the form of the drug, propranolol. He suggests as an ultimate natural cure, a return to the root concept of music, in which the musician and the audience were part of the celebration. No need to fear an audience which is involved with you. The problem comes when the audience is poised for a virtuoso performance, thus placing an ominous responsibility on the part of the performer. Wilson looks toward a day when music might once more be a shared experience. Wilson is a witty writer, but with too oppressive a subject here. Fortunately for him, Sir Thomas Beecham isn't around any more. The man who said, ""A musicologist is a person who can read music, but can't hear it"" might have had a bit to say about a new breed of music-""muscleologists.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking