How Music Works

How Music Works

eBook - 2012
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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: 9781938073489
Characteristics: 1 online resource (345 p.) : ill. (chiefly col.)


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LibrariAndy Feb 25, 2019

I loved this book. It gives a glimpse into a variety of music scenes and discusses the importance of hearing music in the appropriate context. It is probably longer than it needs to be, but I enjoyed it to the end.

Jun 22, 2018

Besides meditations on the nature of music from cultural perspectives, there is some fine material on The Talking Heads and the band's recordings, as well as Byrne's solo work, plus some surprisingly practical analysis of the music industry along with considerations on how a musician can still make a living.

Jul 11, 2015

I guess I'm too young (teenager) to really appreciate this book, since I found it difficult to engage with the parts that focus on music and technologies from before my time. Other parts, like those that focus on cultural differences and the music business I found very interesting though. So it balanced out to be ok. I'm sure many other people would enjoy the aspects that I didn't though.

CRRL_CraigG Jun 26, 2015

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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Apr 24, 2014

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

Jul 03, 2013

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.

WVMLStaffPicks Jun 09, 2013

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

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.

ChristchurchLib 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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