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
"Powell conveys the material with enough humor and cocktail party facts to keep the book light and fun." (Publisher's Weekly)
The book was entertaining, enlightening, and educational, plus funny. The only problem was the book was written by a Brit, using many humorous British expression and slang. The reader was American and the contrast of British writing and American reader didn't work. At the end of each chapter the author, John Powell, comes in and demonstrates with guitar or other instrument what the chapter was about. The author is hilarious and I wish that he or another Brit had read it. I recommend it highly and I learned a lot!
Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.
As a guitarist, choral director and musician of over 30 years, I have a pretty good understanding of the physics of music as well as music theory. However, I came away learning a number of new things from this book AND with a more solid understanding of things I already knew.
While I agree that a British reader may have made the listen a little more fun, the narrator was fine for me. The author's recordings at the end of chapters were good in most cases, but his demonstration of vibrato and rubato were generally not that obvious, even to someone who knew exactly what he was doing and trying to communicate.
His explanation of the overtone series and how they contribute to an instrument's sound was VERY good, as was his explanation of how the pentatonic scales were mathematically derived (something that I didn't know).
The author also did a good job near the end of the book explaining the weird "names" for classical compositions. His appendix explaining the intervals and songs that used them was also very good.
Only other criticism (and it is a small one) is that the use of terms tone and semi-tone is less common than whole step and half step, which may confuse some readers a bit.
All in all a really nice read and the author has a GREAT sense of humor!
A easy and fun read about everything music. A complete explanation of how sound and music work, from origins to how and why we listen. I recommend this to every musician and every music lover. Rikki Swin
avid audio books listener
I am just starting guitar lessons and the info in this audio is amazing. I knew some of it, but not the background. I've recommended it to several other friends who are music students.
I would listen to this again so that I could brush up on some of the very helpful points this book makes.
This book is so entertaining! It is funny and clever and very enlightening. The narrator has just the right style, the right mix of humor and seriousness to make it funny and informative. I enjoyed almost all of it. It is written for non-musicians in an effort to help them understand what music is all about. The author does a great job of hitting so many aspects of music, but for me, a professional musician, it was a little elementary. With that said, I did learn a few things that I can use in my classroom, and that made it all worth it. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the workings and meanings of music.
I must add that I am glad the editors did not have the author read his own book. He interjects on several occasions with musical examples that have been discussed by the narrator. He is very hard to understand. I liked his interjections and loved his use of his guitar playing examples, but the narrator, Walter Dixon, brings the book to life.
I've already listened to it three or four times. It really is interesting and well presented.
First time I've heard Walter Dixon. I like his presentation.
The examples and the author's comments at the end of each chapter
No, it is a book to study slowly
I enjoyed this book beginning to end. It provided a wide variety of information, examples and stories about music that anyone could gleam insight from. Very entertaining and educational.
Rather lifeless narration, as others have said. His voice is quiet and tedious. I also felt for much of the book that this company had discovered a man incapable of humor. Wasn't there a Saturday Night Live sketch about a disease where people were incapable of finding anything funny...He tells these jokes like he has no idea what a joke is. There is very little change in voice. The information was pretty interesting though, somewhat basic. But it will teach you to tune a pentatonic harp, and I learned enough that I felt my money was well spent. I'd have listened to it all in a few days if I could have kept my head up for more than two hours straight through the narration. Though he seemed more subtle and understated than stodgy by the end, when I'd adjusted to him.
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