Book Review: How Music Works

A couple weeks ago my parents went to a concert. David Byrne they told me.  Never heard of him, I said back.  And now here I am having read his book!

The book is a little bit autobiography and a little bit history and technology, though I wouldn’t say it goes in to really HOW music works like the book I read a while back does. (Book Review: How Music Works by John Powell) and it is interesting to hear about it all from the perspective of a musician.

I found interesting where he talked about how the length of a song was influenced greatly by the length of time that would fit on one side of a 45, which also changed the style of writing.  Now, music is digital and can be as long or as short as you’d like but it seems like the 3 minute song to 3.5 minutes is still the norm.

His thoughts on royalties were also interesting – I am always curious to know how much an artist gets depending on how you buy their music – digitally or on CD, etc.

Definitely an interesting read for anyone looking to make it in the industry, interested in how it works or just looking for a good book to read!

I received a free e-copy of the book from the publisher in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

How Music Works is David Byrne’s remarkable celebration of a subject he has spent a lifetime thinking about. In it he explores how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and he explains how the advent of recording technology in the twentieth century forever changed our relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music.

Acting as historian and anthropologist, raconteur and social scientist, he searches for patterns – and shows how those patterns have affected his own work over the years with Talking Heads and his many collaborators, from Brian Eno to Caetano Veloso. Byrne sees music as part of a larger, almost Darwinian pattern of adaptations and responses to its cultural and physical context. His range is panoptic, taking us from Wagnerian opera houses to African villages, from his earliest high school reel-to-reel recordings to his latest work in a home music studio (and all the big studios in between).

Touching on the joy, the physics and the business of making music, How Music Works is an irresistible adventure and an impassioned argument for music’s liberating, life-affirming power.

Category: Book Review
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