The Psychology of Music:
A Very short Introduction

Also available in Hungarian (Pallas Athene), Spanish (Alianza), and Japanese (Fukumura Shuppan)


  • As an author acclaimed on both sides of the humanities-sciences divide, Margulis provides the kind of sensitive analysis that opens up the field to readers with diverse backgrounds, and readers who simply have a love for music.

  • Considers the very latest, up-the-minute research in the cognitive science of music

  • Chronicles not only the potential of the psychology of music, but also its pitfalls, in hopes of advancing the field and its relationship with other modes of thinking about music


Music has been examined from multiple perspectives: as a product of human history, for example, or a product of human culture. But there is also a long tradition, intensified in recent decades, of thinking about music as a product of the human mind. Whether considering composition, performance, listening, or appreciation, the constraints and capabilities of the human mind play a formative role. The field that has emerged around this approach is known as the psychology of music. 

Written in a lively and accessible manner, this volume connects the science to larger questions about music that are of interest to practicing musicians, music therapists, musicologists, and the general public alike. For example: Why can one musical performance move an audience to tears, and another compel them to dance, clap, or snap along? How does a "hype" playlist motivate someone at the gym? 


The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.