Talent, practice, excellence, and the joy of music

Daniel Levitin(McGill University, Montréal)

I will review the literature on nature vs. nurture in the acquisition of musical ability; some definitional and psychometric issues in the study of musicality; and the literature on the neurochemistry of music, in particular the biological and psychological underpinnings of musical pleasure.

Friday August 30, 16.45-17.45
Keynote lecture

About Daniel J. Levitin

Daniel J. Levitin is the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill University.  He holds Associate Appointments in the School of Computer Science, Faculty of Education, Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery, and School of Music.  He received the Principal's Teaching Prize in 2006 at McGill, the University's highest teaching honor.

Dr. Levitin earned his Ph. D. in Cognitive Psychology with a Ph. D. minor in Music Technology from the University of Oregon, his B.A. from Stanford in cognitive psychology, and completed post-doctoral training at Stanford University Medical School and UC Berkeley.  He has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford University where he taught courses in the Departments of Psychology, Computer Science, Human Biology, Music, Anthropology, and the School of Education.  He has also been a visiting professor in Psychology at UC Berkeley and Dartmouth.

Levitin has published more than 100 scientific articles in leading journals including Science, Nature, PNAS, Neuron, JEP:HPP, and Cognition. He is credited with fundamental discoveries about the nature of musical memory and absolute pitch, the neural correlates of musical structure, and the role of the cerebellum in mediating musical emotion.He is a frequent guest on NPR and CBC radio.

Daniel is the author of the book "This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession" (Dutton/Penguin, 2006) which stayed on TheNew YorkTimes and The Globe and Mail bestseller lists for more than 16 months. "The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature" (Dutton/Penguin, 2008) debuted on The New YorkTimes list, reached #1 on TheGlobe and Mail bestseller list, and was named one of the best books of the year by the Boston Herald and Seed magazine. 

As a musician (tenor saxophone, guitar and bass), he has performed with Mel Tormé, Nancy Wilson, David Byrne, Roseanne Cash, Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Rodney Crowell, Victor Wooten, Blue Öyster Cult, members of the Steve Miller Band, and Santana.  Levitin served as Vice President of Artists & Repertoire at 415/Columbia Records (now Sony Records) from 1984 - 1988, and as President in 1989.For his technical and marketing contributions to the recording industry, Levitin has been awarded 14 gold and platinum records, and two of his projects received Oscar nominations.  Records and CDs on which he worked have sold in excess of 30 million copies.