How Music Works

How Music Works

How Music Works is David Byrne’s remarkable and buoyant celebration of a subject he has spent a lifetime thinking about. In it he explores how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and he explains how the advent of recording technology in the twentieth century forever changed our relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music.

Acting as historian and anthropologist, raconteur and social scientist, he searches for patterns—and shows how those patterns have affected his own work over the years with Talking Heads and his many collaborators, from Brian Eno to Caetano Veloso. Byrne sees music as part of a larger, almost Darwinian pattern of adaptations and responses to its cultural and physical context. His range is panoptic, taking us from Wagnerian opera houses to African villages, from his earliest high school reel-to-reel recordings to his latest work in a home music studio (and all the big studios in between).

Touching on the joy, the physics, and even the business of making music, How Music Works is a brainy, irresistible adventure and an impassioned argument about music’s liberating, life-affirming power.

Title:How Music Works
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781936365531
Format Type:

About David Byrne

A cofounder of the musical group Talking Heads, David Byrne has also released several solo albums in addition to collaborating with such noted artists as Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Brian Eno. His art includes photography and installation works and has been published in five books. He lives in New York and he recently added some new bike racks of his own design around town, thanks to the Depar


    How Music Works Reviews

  • Darwin8u

    “But at times words can be a dangerous addition to music — they can pin it down. Words imply that the music is about what the words say, literally, and nothing more... ― David Byrne, How Music W...

  • Loring Wirbel

    I approached Byrne's latest with a little trepidation, due to a less than stellar NY Times review, and due to the number of people in the music industry (notably his own former bandmates in Talking H...

  • Vicki

    There is a lot of information about musical roots and how musicians worked to perfect their sound according to what worked best with their style. I was fascinated by the facts about the designs of ope...

  • Jud Barry

    Byrne gives us his take on music in a style that is very pleasant, straightforward, and conversational. He comes across as someone whose wide-ranging, collaborative experience and creative intelligenc...

  • yh

    I've loved the music of Talking Heads for a long time, so when I first heard about this book, I made sure to file it away so that I could read it. I finally did, and I'm really glad that David Byrne w...

  • julieta

    Una maravilla de libro. De verdad, me gusta mucho más que el anterior, diarios de Bicicleta, me parece que se llamaba. Este es David con todo, y eso que no puedo decir que he seguido su carrera, aunq...

  • Tomas Ramanauskas

    David Byrne, a legend, becomes your professor for duration of this book and delivers a fascinating deep dive into the world of music, its hows and whys. He scatters autobiographical experiences amid b...

  • Charles

    I have been a Talking Heads listener for 30 years. For some reason that escapes me now I began to read How Music Works. To my delight I found it compelling.While much of the text is almost a autobiogr...

  • Alan

    David Byrne's How Music Works was a perfect book for me to take traveling—dense with information, observations and concrete advice, all organized in manageable sections and copioiusly illustrated. B...

  • Cheryl

    Fascinating. Even though I know nothing about music, not even to know the difference between a chord and a chorus, nor have I been able to either enjoy or appreciate Talking Heads or Byrne's other mus...