Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Reader's Diary #2023- David Byrne: How Music Works

I'd consider myself a part-time fan of David Byrne. Beyond a few singles (Talking Heads and solo work), I'm not overly familiar with his music and definitely not the man. For all that, I managed to have an idea of him that wasn't supported by reading his book How Music Works.

Not that the book is really an autobiography (he does, however, use anecdotes and examples from his own life and career to illustrate his points), but I'd pegged him as decidedly more avant-garde than he comes across in his writing style. He's certainly artistic but his ideas are expressed very lucidly and with scientific, economic, and historic support.

It's a fascinating book for both fans of music and musicians themselves delving into a whole slew of music related topics. On that note, I suppose the title doesn't exactly capture the theme of the book but nor is there a single theme besides music. It's really a series of essays each with their own angle, ranging from the business side to the cultural growth of music. I think one of my favourite takeaways from the whole book is the way we tend to create constraints for music, whether intentional or or not, and yet we find a way to create music despite it all and fitting for the various contexts.

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