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How Music Works by David Byrne

How Music Works (2012)

by David Byrne

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8431517,685 (3.93)21
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.… (more)

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David Byrne is one of those people that's always one small gesture, one jam session, one marimba solo away from being the most pretentious asshole on the planet... and yet, somehow, he always remains in my affections. Early in the book he casually diagnoses himself as Aspergers-- I wouldn't know-- but if his naiveté, good humor and sincerity is a put-on, it's a pretty good put-on. There's an element of surprise in all of his performances and in his writing, too, like he is feeling his way in the dark and has just arrived at something really extraordinary and can't wait to share it. Is he kidding? Is this just some weird schtick? Why does a white dude on stage with a dude in a dashiki make me so uncomfortable? I DON'T KNOW, but I give him a free pass every time!!!

This is a great book, a history of performance, recording, and practice, written in a tone that alternates between cool and clinical science to warm and affectionate reminiscience. It's a weird thing to address what "beauty" is or what makes music "good", a bit like explaining why a joke is funny, but it works here quite well. Aspergers or no, I don't think anyone else could write a book like this. ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
David Byrne, formerly of the band Talking Heads, explores what music is, how it's created, its function for humans, and the business of recording and sharing it.

The practical music business chapters were informative and could be useful, though they sometimes leaned a bit too far into the music autobiography category. But I really enjoyed the musings on the nature of music - why it gets composed in certain ways, how we listen to it, how it differs across cultures - even if they were occasionally disjointed and vague. ( )
  rhowens | Nov 26, 2019 |
David Byrne does a fantastic job of tackling how music works, from composition, to live gigs, to producing, to physics. It's a fantastic and really easy read. His style is incredibly personal and some of the things he talks about are mind blowing.

Would definitely recommend. ( )
  simonspacecadet | Jul 29, 2018 |
How Music Works is as detailed and as well organized as you’d expect from a book written by a (self diagnosed) Aspergian. Actually, it's not so much a 'book' as it is a collection of essays that cover a wide array of topics relating to the mechanics and aesthetics of music plus some history of the Talking Heads and the NYC club scene of the early 80's. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Byrne truly covers every aspect of the title in this book - from the hard science, to the social science, to the history, to the business of music. And he does it in a very down-to-earth way. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Jan 29, 2016 |
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