How Music Works

Byrne, David

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
How Music Works
The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee and co-founder of Talking Heads presents a celebration of music that offers insight into the roles of time, place and recording technology, discussing how evolutionary patterns of adaptations and responses to cultural and physical contexts have influenced music expression throughout history and culminated in the 20th century's transformative practices.

Publisher: San Francisco, Calif. : McSweeneys, c2012.
ISBN: 9781936365531
Characteristics: 345 p. :,ill. (chiefly col.) ;,24 cm.


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Apr 24, 2014
  • uncommonreader rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I stopped reading after a couple of chapters as I did not find the book that interesting or insightful.

Apr 24, 2014
  • CRRL_CraigGraziano rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

How Music Works offers many answers to a question that I had never even asked. Now that I've read it I wonder, "How could I have gone so long without this information?" Musician and writer David Byrne crafts such an enticing collection of essays, dropping factoids and anecdotes along the way, that I was equally informed and entertained.

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Jul 03, 2013
  • ReidCooper rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This book needed both better editing and better proofreading. In many cases, I found myself wishing the library had the key books Byrne keeps drawing on, so I could go directly to the sources instead. "How Music Works" shines, though, when Byrne writes based his own first-hand knowledge -- such as how he has written songs or staged different performances, or the practical realities of the music business today in contrast to what he lived through in the 1970s and 80s.

Jun 09, 2013
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Have you ever wondered why pop songs are roughly three minutes long, or how improvisation in jazz began? Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne answers these questions and more in his ambitious survey of musical creation. How Music Works combines a unique array of topics, looking at music from anthropological, historical, economical and autobiographical angles. A great read for music lovers!

Apr 16, 2013
  • michael12 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I expected this to be an "aging rock star bio", but it's much more than that. Byrne does describe his own musical genesis, the formation and career of Talking Heads, and his own solo projects. But he uses this as grist for the mill in his larger discussion of what is music, how did it go from being something one played in a social context to a consumable object. I followed most of what he said about space determining the type of music which works best in it, the technology of recording, the business of music. But he lost me (through my own ignorance, I admit) when he started talking about scales and the music of the spheres. Great book, much to think about.

Nov 14, 2012

A true Renaissance man, David Byrne is a painter, photographer, and writer in addition to being a Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee and co-founder of the new wave band Talking Heads. In How Music Works, which Booklist calls "endlessly fascinating, insightful, and intelligent," he presents a celebration of music that offers insight into a plethora of topics. From mixtapes and venues to birdsong and technology, the book ranges broadly - and entertainingly. Though his topic of choice is the evolution of music, Talking Heads fans will appreciate his riffs on the band, as well. Review in Next Reads Popular Culture newsletter November 2012



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