How Music Works

Front Cover
McSweeney's, Sep 12, 2012 - Music - 352 pages
862 Reviews
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: How Music Works

User Review  - Ben Richmond - Goodreads

I blazed through this book. Sometimes it feels like just a sort of tour of things that David Byrne finds interesting, a compendium of factoids and occasional anecdotes--but David Byrne, to me, is into ... Read full review

Review: How Music Works

User Review  - Josh - Goodreads

A great 101 survey course on everything music. I love Byrne's writing voice—he's folksy (he'll say "a bunch of" and other things) but wise, with each chapter you could imagine him filling a book just ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2012)

David Byrne is a Scottish-born Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and cofounder of Talking Heads. He has been the recipient of many awards, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The author of Bicycle Diaries and The New Sins, Byrne lives in New York City.

Bibliographic information