13 February 2014

Review: How Music Works

How Music Works
How Music Works by David Byrne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I should preface this by saying that I'll likely give anything David Byrne does a shot. I am a fan of him even if all of his endeavors, musical or otherwise, don't always do the trick. This book is pretty much exactly what's advertised on the cover: David Byrne telling us how music works. And that's not a bad thing.

The book is part history, part biography, part polemic. It covers a lot of Byrne's experience as a recording artist and collaborator, a good deal about the machinations of the music industry, a lot of the research domestically and worldwide about music production and enjoyment, and so on. There's a lot he covers over 300+ pages, and his voice is distinct enough where, even as someone who has some background in this, it's a nice recollection/reminder/resource.

If I have a complaint, outside of its overall lack of focus, I'd be really curious as to who this is intended to reach. There's not enough biographical stuff to be a story about Byrne, the people who would grab this for the historical elements probably already know what's here, and it's through the McSweeney's group which means most of the people who would find this would already be well-read. I spent more time than I thought I would wondering who, exactly, he was writing for.

Overall, it's a solid read that I think should be read by people who see this and say "yeah, I might want to read this." It's one of those books I'm glad exists, even if it has its flawed moments.

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