Jimi Hendrix meets Oliver Sacks in this great new science book

Gary Marcus is the director of NYU’s Center for Language and Music and the author of several well-regarded books about the brain’s inner workings. His newest, Guitar Zero, describes his effort to master (or, at the very least, learn to play) a musical instrument—a task he undertakes despite his self-confessed lack of musical talent. Along the way, Marcus interviews a few A-list guitarists, surveys the cognitive science involved, and answers some basic (but fascinating) questions about musical ability, musical taste, and the various things that make musical works work. Like all good science books, this one is brisk, lucid, and thought-provoking. (N.B.: Marcus is also the creator of a free iPhone music app, the 3-in-1 Improviser, which we’ve linked you to below.)

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