How Music Works

David Byrne
How Music Works is David Byrne’s remarkable and buoyant 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 even the business of making music, How Music Works is a brainy, irresistible adventure and an impassioned argument about music’s liberating, life-affirming power.


Reviewed: 2018-02-11
"How Music Works" is a great read. In addition to give the reader a very refreshing sort of 360 degrees perspective on what music is and "how music works", David Byrne gives great insight - based on a very open account of his personal financial experience - on the business and economics of modern day pop music. In particular, I enjoyed reading chapter 9 on "amateurs!" where Byrne convincingly argues that the essence of music is actually the music that you write or perform yourself as an amateur (someone who loves what they are doing) as opposed to the passive, consumption of perfected music written and performed by professionals. This argument also puts my own elitarian and snobbish preference for classical music in some perspective :-)
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