How Music Works by David Byrne

Talking Heads’ music has changed many people’s lives and their founding member David Byrne began to wonder, how is it that music does this?

How Music Works is the result of his research. Due to his position within the industry, he’s been able to get up close and personal with an incredible array of musical devices, approaches, musicians and more and it’s an extraordinary book.

Why We Love How Music Works

At its core, this book is an exploration of the business of music but it’s also an exploration of bird and whale song, creativity and much more. 

How Music Works

Unlike many books, this doesn’t take a “straight line” approach to its central thesis but it’s happy to meander to wherever the author’s vision focuses next.

And most of all, it attempts to answer the big questions such as:

Do we need music at all?


What is music good for?

Final Thoughts On How Music Works

How Music Works made us think long and hard about something we normally take for granted and we would recommend it to anyone just for that.

It’s a bonus that it’s also well-written and highly entertaining. 

David Byrne’s book was a strong contender for our essential music books list but it didn’t make the final cut. You can see what did here.

You can grab a copy online here.

And if you think How Music Works is appealing, you might also want to check out Environmental Sound Artists and Mavericks Of Sound, as they’re both awesome too. 

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