Theme and Variations by Carl Ellenberger, M.D.

Musical Notes by a Neurologist

Did you ever wonder why you like certain kinds of music more than others? Or why musical talent is rare when love of music Is nearly universal?

Part neuroscience, part memoir, Theme and Variations makes the latest evidence about how we process music in our conscious and unconscious mind accessible to every reader.

Through his own experiences, the author, a musician and neuroscientist, shows how he came to understand the importance of music in his life – in all of our lives – revealing a number of surprises that will fascinate physicians, musicians, and the music-loving public alike, raising and answering such questions as:

Why have homo sapiens always made music?
Can music make kids smarter or better students?
Can listening to or playing music improve brain capacity?
Why do we like the music that we like?
Do music and sex activate the same parts of the brain?
Can music heal? Delay dementia? Help Parkinson’s patients?

Music, Dr. Ellenberger tells us, is an affirmative medium that stimulates us to imagine and embrace our fullest human potential.


This book fascinated me as soon as I read the blurb on NetGalley.  I have no medical knowledge and I won’t pretend I understood all of what this doctor was trying to tell us through this book.

The book is in two parts, Part One – Music in the Brain and Part Two – Reflections on a Musical Life.  Chapters include questions such as: Why There is Music?, Can Learning Music Make Us Smarter? and Can Music Heal?  The author looks at these questions in depth and includes many references for further reading and follow up.

I am at my happiest with soft music playing whilst I read, but prefer upbeat pop/rock music when I am doing housework.  There are few times where I don’t have music on around the house and my taste in music varies as wide as is possible with my music collection having something from each genre in todays world.

I think we all enjoy some quiet time with music and we individually know which tracks will make us feel better depending on our mood at that current time.  This book looks into the reasons why. There are chapters that look at more serious medical conditions and ask can music be of any assistance to those suffering with Alzheimers, Dementia and Parkinson’s as well as many other conditions.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sunacumen Press for the opportunity to read and review this novel prior to publication.

  • TITLE: Theme and Variations – Musical Notes by a Neurologist
  • AUTHOR: Carl Ellenberger, M.D.
  • PUBLISHER: Sunacumen Press
  • PUBLICATION DATE: 1 November 2018



NetGalley, Amazon, Kobo


Carl Ellenberger MD author photo
Carl Ellenberger, M.D. has a website where you can learn more about this amazing man and his studies into music and the brain.

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