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How Music Works Hardcover – September 12, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
The second chapter is an musical autobiographical section describing the evolution of his music and stage attire over the succeeding eras of rock. In his world travels, his encounter with Japanese and Balinese traditional music and theatre art had a profound influence on the development of his stage craft. One of his suits clearly had classic Japanese origins.
Chapters 3 and 4 return to musicology with an expansion of the role of technology, recording and playback. The historical account is amusing when considering the delusions of reality instilled by each new device on the unconditioned and uneducated ear.Read more ›
How Music Works
The other part of David Byrne week is his fabulous new book How Music Works. The book is Byrne's take on the industry he's succeeded in. He offers keen observations about the music industry, the art of making music, telling stories in the book using a combination of history, anthropology, and music theory. I love this book!
In particular, Byrne has a fascinating take on the development of music, which is quite different from what other music historians say. In a chapter titled "Creation in Reverse" he argues that music evolves to fill the space where it is performed.
For example, the Talking Heads evolved in the 1970s at New York punk club CBGB requiring volume to overcome the din. The sparse music that came out of the CBGB scene such as the Ramones and Television worked perfectly for that room.
Music that evolved in gothic cathedrals (lots of reverberation) has long notes with no key changes. Carnegie Hall and other similar rooms require texture. With discos, people made music to exploit the fantastic sound systems and people's need to dance. Rock music played in hockey arenas (the worst acoustics on the planet) must be straightforward with medium tempos. You get the idea. The music that is successful works perfectly for each venue.
With personal sound systems (starting with the Walkman in the 1970s then evolving into MP3 players such as the iPod), all of a sudden you can hear every single detail.Read more ›
What this book offers are fascinating musings, anecdotes and his personal thoughts (infused with his dry wit) on music that made it difficult to put the book down for any length of time. The writer of Psycho Killer discusses psychoacoustics (the study of how the brain perceives sounds), how Bing Crosby's love for golf advanced recording technology, and how the record companies' greed forced MTV to stop broadcasting videos and get into the reality TV business.
I think there are flaws in this book but from one of the most cerebral musicians working today, it is still a great read and one I'm telling every musician and music geek I know to read this book!
I claim, however, that in Chapter 9 he's faking it. For those who have not read this chapter, one premise is loosely that classical music is over-venerated, over-funded and that pop music is the true underdog: underfunded and never getting enough respect from critics especially for works emerging from amateur musicians. David writes: "I never got Bach, Mozart or Beethoven - and don't feel any worse for it".
I suggest the exact opposite of his premise is the case: look at the budgets for pop music albums. In fact look at the budget Byrne himself tables in the book for a recent album - $218,000. The documentary 'Sound City' talks of budgets reaching $400,000 to $600,000 in the 1970s for pop albums - one can only imagine what they are today. Do you think classical music has anything like these budgets? Try raising kickstarter money for a woodwind quintet, or better yet - approach a record label for funding. Those I know trying to get new works off the ground in the classical tradition are lucky to raise a few thousand dollars to do this work. Today the tradition emerging from classical times is the underdog.
Cumulatively pop music spends over 13 billion dollars a year on recording, arranging and performance fees for its songs. And yet they still collectively haven't made a piece as good as Beethoven's 9th symphony. So who is the underdog in this battle? They have multi-core workstations, high-speed data links to each others studios, world-wide access to musical talent in an international studio system, an international payment system...what else?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The quoted reviews misrepresent the content. Should be re-named "How Music Works for David Byrne". Interesting content, but much narrower then I expected.Published 22 days ago by Francis S.
The book is excellent.
But it seems it must have been a lil bit damaged in the shipping.
such a great book... a wonderful collection of thoughts on an individual's journey through their own experiences...Published 2 months ago by Jonathan
I highly recommend this book to people who really want to understand musicology, how music affects people and conversly the use of music to change environments. Read morePublished 2 months ago by KRR
A must read for any professional in the business and for music amateurs who wish to understand the creation process of music. a real eye opener.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I listened to this as an audiobook I downloaded. That means that there were points that I wanted to write something down, but may not have been able to fully capture. Read morePublished 5 months ago by J. Edgar Mihelic, MBA