How Music Works

  • by David Byrne
  • Narrated by Andrew Garman
  • 13 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"Anyone at all interested in music will learn a lot from this book." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

"David Byrne is a Human" by a Talking Heads fan

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Byrne writes like a Malcom Gladwell in the music world. To me, that was interesting enough to keep me hooked because I didn't realize David Byrne was so smart and normal. I would recommend this book if you are trying to "figure out" music. Not that he claims to understand music completely. He tries to keep a balanced view and show the realm of possibilities of "how music works." Sometimes he goes on long tangents, talking about his projects after Talking Heads (which was sometimes interesting).

It was a great book to have in the car on the way to and from work.


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

His section on music writing collaboration. For me, as someone in a band, I really took away some great communication techniques.


What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator was OK. I felt he seemed to miss Byrne's connotation sometimes. He also doesn't know how to pronounce "timbre." I feel like Byrne definitely didn't listen to this audiobook and OK everything.


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

Nothing too extreme. There were parts that were very exciting, like when he related to exactly what my band is going through right now.


Any additional comments?

I would say that if you are still enchanted with The Talking Heads sound, don't read this book. I haven't listened to them since reading it, but I suspect some of the magic may be gone when I do. This is ok for me, because one day I hope to reach levels that David Byrne reached. Or if you are a music fan, and want to see behind the scenes, it will be a fun read. You may want to skip through some parts, but overall it's worth it.

It's very unfortunate that the only other review on here was from some conservative person. Yes, Byrne goes on a few little rants in favor of liberalism, but i wouldn't say that's his main objective.

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- Daniel

Very Good

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I am a music fan first and although I really enjoy Talking Heads and David Byrne I would not consider myself a huge fan. With that said this is a very good book for anyone who likes music and want to understand it more. It comes off as thoughtful and well researched, with a point of view. I recommend it highly with those caveats and parameters.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Well David Byrne is essentially the character here ....his viewpoint is fascinating. I like the fact that he is explaining why his artistic taste and choices are what they are. Whether you agree or not, it's interesting.


Have you listened to any of Andrew Garman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No but I thought he did a good job, well done Andrew.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Having been to CBGB's I thought it was funny how he clinically described that down trodden club. His focus on acoustics and performance context was something I never thought of when in that space.


Any additional comments?

There have been a few other good music books I have read recently "The Life and Times of Brian Eno" and "Love Goes to Building on Fire"; both were very good. I would put this book on that par. If you are fan of musicology, the process of how art is made, anecdotes about a localized music scene and insight into how music gets made this is a great book. This is not a revealing, personality driven book about the rock n roll lifestyle. It descries music as art. I really enjoyed it, and I am glad I read/listened to it.

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- thomas

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-25-2012
  • Publisher: Recorded Books