From Publishers Weekly
In this enlightening book, Powell, a British scholar and professor, sets out to explain how we experience music. He selects examples from all manner of disciplines--music composition, simple mathematics, physics, engineering, history--and offers his insights, such as how Bach' s Prelude in C Major is similar to Led Zeppelin' s Stairway to Heaven. In the first half, he defines the elements of music like pitch, frequency, harmony, rhythm, and decibel. Building on this foundation, Powell hits his stride in the book' s second half as he demonstrates, using both classical and pop music, how musicians create sound and how we listen to it. Some of the information can get scientific but Powell conveys the material with enough humor ( I think the decibel was invented in a bar, late one night, by a committee of drunken electrical engineers who wanted to take revenge on the world for their total lack of dancing partners ) and cocktail party facts ( when we listen to Mozart' s music nowadays, we are hearing it a semitone higher than he would have intended ) to keep the book light and fun. Included in the book is a 10-track CD.
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"By reading Powell's book we can gain a more solid knowledge of the foundations of music and therefore be better able to appreciate it."—Amanda Mark, New York Journal of Books
"Any readers whose love of music has somehow not led them to explore the technical side before will surely find the result a thoroughly accessible, and occasionally revelatory, primer."—James Walton, The Spectator
"In this distinctive combination of scientific treatise and laugh-out-loud commentary, composer and physicist Powell...has carved out an intriguing niche by using humor to enliven what could have been an otherwise dry introduction to acoustics...readers ... should glean some useful background for music study while simultaneously being entertained."—Barry Zaslow, Library Journal