Audiobook Review: How Music Works by David Byrne

Title: How Music Works
Author: David Byrne
Narrator: Andrew Garman
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Released: September 1, 2013
Source: borrowed from local library

Synopsis (from Recorded Books):

Best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the iconic band Talking Heads, David Byrne has received Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the insightful How Music Works, Byrne offers his unique perspective on music – including how music is shaped by time, how recording technologies transform the listening experience, the evolution of the industry, and much more.

How Music Works is a non-fiction loving, eclectic reader’s dream. It covers history, culture, science, psychology, technology, politics, business, entertainment, and so much more, all with a hefty dose of memoir thrown in. Information and ideas are presented in a logical order, each point setting the foundation for ruminations yet to come.

The subject matter is what kept me listening; the narration was completely uninspiring. I wish the author had read the book, because I enjoyed listening to his prologue. Many times I wondered if narrator Andrew Garman either didn’t understand what he was reading, or wasn’t interested in it much at all.

The business aspects of the recording industry and how music scenes are created started to lose my interest. I also felt there were times when Byrne was overly and unfairly judgmental of the classical music world. But for the most point, Byrne had my brain whirling with thoughts and ideas. This book offers so much to think about and discuss. I was especially fascinated by the way our brains process sound, and how recordings have changed the way we listen to and judge the music we hear.

There was a beautiful explanation of the communal aspects of music: why people still attend live concerts when they can simply listen on their own devices at home, alone. And I loved when Byrne talked about the mixtape as an expressive form, communicating what we can’t or are too shy to put into words. Eleanor & Park, anyone? 🙂

How Music Works is a thought-provoking journey through all the disciplines and details that guide our musical experiences.