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How Music Works: The Science and Psychology…

How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from… (edition 2010)

by John Powell

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2331449,595 (3.81)5
Title:How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond
Authors:John Powell
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2010), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, Psychology and Cognitive Science, (Other) Science and Math, Arts / Architecture
Tags:music, psychology, acoustics, librarything early reviewers, popular science

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How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell


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With a lot of humor and avoidance of technical detail, Powell breaks down everything about music including physics, acoustics, decibels, rhythm and melody, and musical scores. Despite the simplicity of the book, I still find myself challenged in remembering all that I learned, but I suspect that this is a good introduction to music for most readers. ( )
  Othemts | Nov 21, 2016 |
Not a bad book, but the author gets totally bogged down in musical jargon towards the middle, which he said he wouldn't do and which I hate. You can avoid this by skipping chapters 7, 8.and 9 and going to the last three chapters, which are more interesting.
The author uses examples which I know, which makes this part of the book fun. ( )
  annbury | Aug 3, 2016 |
Exactly what it says, an overview of the basics from instruments to writing to physics. Well done, even if I knew most of it already, I still learned something by the fact that it’s so clearly written. ( )
  bongo_x | May 16, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was a pretty enjoyable book about music and music theory. I thought Powell's writing really shone in his discussion of the acoustics of various instruments / sound in general, although my interest in those topics might be biasing my opinion somewhat. Regardless, his explanations about harmonics, waveforms, etc were particularly well done; I've taken a few courses on speech acoustics in the past, and I wish my professors had been so clearly spoken! I found the book dragged somewhat in the middle, where music theory dominates-- I'm not sure the book truly benefits for 60+ pages on scales/keys, for instance. It picks back up at the end again, happily, although the final chapter ("Listening to Music") seemed to be a bit of a hodge-podge. His discussions of analog/digital technology and how microphones/speakers work were very clearly written, however, if a bit too simplistic for my tastes.

Anyway, if you're looking for a book on basic music theory that isn't super dry, I'd certainly recommend the title. If you're looking for something more physical/psychogical science oriented, this may not be your title. ( )
  kelsiface | Jan 11, 2013 |
Interesting approach, I was surprised he was able to avoid naming the notes as long as he did. Strong on the physics and acoustics. Humor veered a bit too the cornball on occasion. ( )
  encephalical | Dec 5, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316098302, Hardcover)

What makes a musical note different from any other sound? How can you tell if you have perfect pitch? Why do 10 violins sound only twice as loud as one? Do your Bob Dylan albums sound better on CD or vinyl? John Powell, a scientist and musician, answers these questions and many more in HOW MUSIC WORKS, an intriguing and original guide to acoustics. In a clear, accessible, and engaging voice, Powell fascinates the reader with his delightful descriptions of the science and psychology lurking beneath the surface of music. With lively discussions of the secrets behind harmony, timbre, keys, chords, loudness, musical composition, and more, HOW MUSIC WORKS will be treasured by music lovers everywhere. The book also includes a CD of examples and exercises from the book.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:10 -0400)

John Powell, a scientist and musician, answers questions about harmony, timbre, keys, chords, loudness, musical composition, and many more in this intriguing and original guide to acoustics.

(summary from another edition)

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