We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
How Music Works Audiobook

How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond

Regular Price:$24.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

An enthralling investigation into the mysteries of music. Have you ever wondered how off-key you are while singing in the shower? Or if your Bob Dylan albums really sound better on vinyl? Or why certain songs make you cry?

Now, scientist and musician John Powell invites you on an entertaining journey through the world of music. Discover what distinguishes music from plain old noise, how scales help you memorize songs, what the humble recorder teaches you about timbre (assuming your suffering listeners don’t break it first), why anyone can learn to play a musical instrument, what the absurdly complicated names of classical music pieces actually mean, how musical notes came to be (hint: you can thank a group of stodgy men in 1939 London for that one), how to make an oboe from a drinking straw, and much more.

With wit and charm, and in the simplest terms, Powell explains the science and psychology of music. Clever, informative, and deeply engaging, How Music Works takes the secrets of music away from the world of badly dressed academics and gives every one of us—whether we love to sing or play air guitar—the means to enhance our listening pleasure.

©2010 John Powell (P)2010 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

"Powell conveys the material with enough humor and cocktail party facts to keep the book light and fun." (Publisher's Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (363 )
5 star
 (125)
4 star
 (114)
3 star
 (83)
2 star
 (26)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
3.9 (291 )
5 star
 (106)
4 star
 (94)
3 star
 (57)
2 star
 (21)
1 star
 (13)
Story
3.9 (298 )
5 star
 (101)
4 star
 (97)
3 star
 (74)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (10)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Sam 05-08-15
    Sam 05-08-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "For the layperson or curious scientist"

    Finally, an accessible discussion of what music actually is, from the nature of harmonious sounds all the way to the equal temperament system!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 01-26-15
    Mark 01-26-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "increased my knowledge of music"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm not a musician, but was interested in learning the theory of music. This book delivered brilliantly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    McCoffee Saratoga, CA, United States 01-17-15
    McCoffee Saratoga, CA, United States 01-17-15

    I like history and biography, novels too. I do have a thing for zombie books as well. I need crappy thrillers now and then.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    78
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    91
    48
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Some good chapters, but no musical sound bites"

    A few chapters--like those on the development of the diatonic scale are really interesting. The author himself steps in at the end of some chapters to demonstrate principles on his guitar, and this really helps. Problems: there are spoken passages referring to notes and scales that could easily have been backed by musical audio. There are hundreds of places where this could have been done. In a description of a flute, there's no sound bite of a flute. Curious why they didn't bother to use more sounds. Some of content is poorly suited to the audio format.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. 01-06-15
    Dr. 01-06-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good companion book for college music students.."
    Would you consider the audio edition of How Music Works to be better than the print version?

    depends on the reader/listener. I am the kind of person who focuses best while driving, so audio books are great.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It covers a lot of basic information on sound and music in a straight-forward, easy-to-understand manner with enough humor to keep it from being dry.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Film???? no


    Any additional comments?

    YES - the writer should have a music theorist edit the terminology. There is a difference between a note (what we see on paper) and a pitch (what we hear). the author confuses these. There are a few other discrepancies which might hinder other music theory teachers from adopting this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 05-04-14
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 05-04-14 Member Since 2015

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1057
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    106
    106
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    78
    15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Huckleberry Jeeves"

    This was mostly an entertaining and educational explanation of what it says on the label: How music works. I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

    As for the narrator, what were they thinking? If you made a recording of Huckleberry Finn would you cast actors with posh English accents? No, because that would sound stupid wouldn’t it? Similarly, in this book, the author uses many English expressions about going to pubs and eating chips with gravy, and these sound ridiculous out of the mouth of the American narrator.

    Whenever I wasn’t distracted by this conspicuous miscasting, I was enjoying the audiobook.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcin Bagsik Gliwice 04-14-14
    Marcin Bagsik Gliwice 04-14-14 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "That's how it works!"
    What did you love best about How Music Works?

    Easly explained diference between ordinary music listener and those with perfect pitch, why some sounds match together and others not. How acients tuned their instruments and why it was standardized just in 1939. It's must have! for everyone who like to play or just learn to play an instrument.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, it was.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. C. Thailand 02-19-14
    J. C. Thailand 02-19-14 Member Since 2015

    I live in Thailand, and love to listen to audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    28
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good"

    Actually I liked it read by an American with intermittent blurbs read by the British author. It was really neat. I learned a lot and had fun listening. Highly recommended! The narration is wonderful. Add a little multi media with some music thrown in, and you have a winner! Loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ez 12-05-13
    ez 12-05-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent material - so so narrator"
    If you could sum up How Music Works in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting explanation of many musical concepts. Music was a "magical talent" to me until I listened to this book.

    First I didn't get the humor, but quickly got used to the British humor and started enjoying the book.

    I thought the narrator was annoying and that, unfortunately, didn't change much till the end of the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the material is excellent


    What aspect of Walter Dixon’s performance would you have changed?

    Wrong narrator. Pauses too often without a need. The most unnecessary pauses are often between "the" and what comes after it. Why do you need to say "the pitch"???


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Irene 02-04-13
    Irene 02-04-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "childish, worst book I've downloaded"
    Would you try another book from John Powell and/or Walter Dixon?

    absolutely not. couldn't even get past the first 20 minutes, tried skipping ahead, no better. speaker was very amateurish, like he was speaking to a 6 year old. substance of book much, much more simple than it needed to be.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    no, only that I could return it


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Knut Oslo, Norway 01-21-13
    Knut Oslo, Norway 01-21-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gives you the understanding and the connections"
    Would you consider the audio edition of How Music Works to be better than the print version?

    I have only been through the audible version


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How Music Works?

    The explanation of connection between the various frequences


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    Everything was ok, very clear reading


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.