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How Music Works (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 17. September 2013

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“The book [Byrne] was born to write. I could make a good case for calling this How Art Works or even How Everything Works.”
Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“David Byrne is a brilliantly original, eccentric rock star, and he has written a book to match his protean talents.”
John Rockwell, The New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating . . . It was wildly ambitious to try and turn this galaxy of theory into a readable work of scholarship, but Byrne has done it, and done it with style.”
Mark Ellen, The Guardian

"No matter how dedicated or casual a music fan you are, David Byrne's insights into the inner world of music and creativity are likely to make you listen to music in a different way." —The Current

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

David Byrne is a Scottish-born Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and a cofounder of Talking Heads. He has been the recipient of many awards, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Also the author of Bicycle Diaries and The New Sins, Byrne lives in New York City.

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Great read for people interested in the history, present and future of music. Not only for Byrne/Talking Heads-heads but a little background knowledge sure helps, as he frequently refers to his career and experiences. This subjective perspective though is what distinguishes this book from similar attempts at describing and evaluating the wide field of making and experiencing music. Few revelations but thoroughly entertaining and interesting.
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Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
While Byrne's observations on how music genres are linked to their performance and composition environments are very perceptive, there is much in the book which is a bit chatty, autobiographical and probably mainly of interest to David Byrne's fans. The real meat of the book is at the beginning and in the last few chapters. Nonetheless, good food for thought and in the end a concise, insightful view of the business of music, particularly relevant in the current phase of transformation where music production, sales and distribution have become nothing short of revolutionized
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Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I found this very relaxing, inspiring and interesting. I can recommend it to all musicians and all music-listeners (which means: everybody).
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Von S. A. Wilson am 16. Dezember 2013
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
grat book nice packaging More or less what I expected. He's an interesting writer. Appeals not just to music fans
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9aaae084) von 5 Sternen 204 Rezensionen
178 von 190 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a3abc00) von 5 Sternen Musical Musings: A Hodge-Podge 7. September 2012
Von Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Byrne begins his wide-ranging historical, technological, psychological and sociological examination of music with a novel insight: architecture of musical venues shape composition and instrumental arrangements. Regarding huge gothic cathedrals, intimate nightclubs, and jungle camp sites, room reverberation, volume of space, and audience vocal ambience dictate modal versus scale works, instrument development, and performance dynamics. The great revolutionary divide was recording technology, and musicians discovered that what works live does not necesarily achieve the same result on vinyl, tape, CD, or .mp3, and vice versa. Expectations often lead to disappointment and the performance and performer suffers. With such an interesting introduction, the book offers much promise. It almost fulfills expectations with both personal and general tidbits and theses that reward the reader, though for myself his personal examples are somewhat weaker.

The second chapter is an musical autobiographical section describing the evolution of his music and stage attire over the succeeding eras of rock. In his world travels, his encounter with Japanese and Balinese traditional music and theatre art had a profound influence on the development of his stage craft. One of his suits clearly had classic Japanese origins.

Chapters 3 and 4 return to musicology with an expansion of the role of technology, recording and playback. The historical account is amusing when considering the delusions of reality instilled by each new device on the unconditioned and uneducated ear. The ideal of recordings was and remains an actual live performance, particularly among classical music fans; but the alternative worthy philosophy is the electronic creation of uniquely shaped sound itself, as with tape editing, synthesizers and digital programming, and electric instrument design. Oddly, computerized editing of recordings to achieve perfection in tempo, pitch, and so forth proved imperfect to the ear and lacking in warmth and positive emotional value. Byrne does not elaborate in later chapters, but recordings (and its transmission over radio) changed society by uniting peoples, speeding musical development, and (for instance, in Brazil) of overturning governmental policy of approved musical forms. I do not share Bryne's lament about the calculus-like wave sectioning of digital CDs over analogue LPs because of psychoacoutics, an aging ear, and the fact that speakers are yet analogue in their cone movement and shaping. Of interest is Byrne's belief that we are now so awash in music, indeed private music on personal .mp3 players and smart phones, that live performances are becoming more important, as that increasingly rare commodity, silence. I enjoyed Bryne's relating, in brief James Burke fashion, the connection of the Chinese mouth organ, the shen, to digital computers.

Chapter 5 is again more personal with Bryne's experiences in a recording studio and the art, engineering, and strategy of creating an album. Entire books have been written and documentary films have focused on this subject, but the use of computers on mixing boards is a new phenomenon.

The following chapter discusses his collaborations. He had already mentioned his albums with Brian Eno, but now Byrne moves beyond Talking Heads by developing music with Caetano Veloso and choreographer Twyla Tharp and creating with Norman Cook [Fatboy Slim] a theatrical piece on the Philippine's Imelda Marcos.

Chapter 7 is all about the business and financial side of the music industry. There are pie charts. He explains the very recent changes in industry, when musicians can edit and mix their music on their laptop computers and distribute it via digital download and cloud companies and promote themselves with YouTube videos and have kickstarter campaigns to get public underwriters. The giant brick & mortar record shops (Tower, Borders, Virgin Megastore) are no more and the power of music labels are severely diminished. This chapter should be read by anyone considering how to create and promote their own music; he describes various business models.

The next chapter furthers practical advice on the choice of venues, song material, the courage to be different, responsibility to band members and fellow musicians, and so on. It is a peculiar chapter for such a book.

Chapter 9 pulls back to a shotgun approach critical of musical elitism and lauding the amateur musician. In the days before mass-marketed recordings, there was a piano in the parlor. Even in the 1960s, every kid (yours truly included) had an acoustic guitar, singing folk songs. Until very recently, courses in music appreciation were dedicated only to classical music and rarely jazz. Governmental and corporate funding erected costly symphony halls and museums. Byrne seems to ignore the reality that these measures were to preserve and encourage endangered music styles and that the masses are doing fine in supporting pop and avant-garde culture, filling stadiums and arenas and small local music joints. Symphony halls are not restricted to dead European composers; I have heard contemporary American, Japanese, Argentinian, Iranian, and other world composers. Still, the point is taken when middle and high schools do not offer music and art classes and other nations support amateur musicians, music clubs, and youth bands and orchestras. Music and art should not be passive art forms.

The final chapter covers music as a human, biological, and indeed metaphysical essence. This historical and anthropological section sketches prehistorical, ancient, and early modern musical instruments, musical sciences, and philosophies. Everything vibrates, from atoms to planets. He does not include it, but string theory of matter involves vibrating strands of energy. Bryne briefly mentions the differing scales of music across the planet, the relationship of language and speech to music, neurological imprinting of music and its performance, music in religious rituals [Taliban and similar zealots aside], the natural ambient music appreciated by John Cage and the composed ambient music of Satie, Eno, and Feldman, and various other aspects of music. Bryne can only touch upon these large subjects as he closes the book. While it may lead to further reading, I find the section too scattered to be truly effective.

This grand book, with its padded cover, offers a little of everything to everyone. Fans of Bryne, as leader of the Talking Heads or as musicologist, will surely find much to appreciate here. I do think, however, that he could have prepared two smaller books, one dedicated to the practice of musicmaking today and one to music's historical and anthropological aspects.
47 von 47 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a3abe4c) von 5 Sternen Terrific book for music lovers and content creators alike 27. September 2012
Von David Meerman Scott - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This is David Byrne week for me. On Sunday, I caught the sensational David Byrne and St. Vincent show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. The last time I saw Byrne live was when I caught the Talking Heads on August 19, 1983 at the old Forrest Hills Tennis Stadium in New York City. So, clearly I was already a Byrne fan.

How Music Works

The other part of David Byrne week is his fabulous new book How Music Works. The book is Byrne's take on the industry he's succeeded in. He offers keen observations about the music industry, the art of making music, telling stories in the book using a combination of history, anthropology, and music theory. I love this book!

In particular, Byrne has a fascinating take on the development of music, which is quite different from what other music historians say. In a chapter titled "Creation in Reverse" he argues that music evolves to fill the space where it is performed.

For example, the Talking Heads evolved in the 1970s at New York punk club CBGB requiring volume to overcome the din. The sparse music that came out of the CBGB scene such as the Ramones and Television worked perfectly for that room.

Music that evolved in gothic cathedrals (lots of reverberation) has long notes with no key changes. Carnegie Hall and other similar rooms require texture. With discos, people made music to exploit the fantastic sound systems and people's need to dance. Rock music played in hockey arenas (the worst acoustics on the planet) must be straightforward with medium tempos. You get the idea. The music that is successful works perfectly for each venue.

With personal sound systems (starting with the Walkman in the 1970s then evolving into MP3 players such as the iPod), all of a sudden you can hear every single detail. This allowed pop music to evolve from its early radio form.

Byrne has a 2010 TED Talk on this idea: "How architecture helped music evolve."

How Content Works

As I devoured How Music Works I was constantly thinking how Byrne's ideas apply to other forms of content. I think the ideas are valid when thinking about the written word, video content, and the Web. I used the ideas in How Music Works to formulate ideas about content in general.

David Byrne's How Music Works is amazing. Read it. And as you do if you're not in the music business, feel free to substitute "content" for "music" and see where the ideas lead you.
28 von 29 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a3abe10) von 5 Sternen For music geeks by a music geek 27. September 2012
Von stutron - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Let me begin by saying I wouldn't consider myself a David Byrne/Talking Heads fan. I deeply admire and respect Mr. Byrne as an artist and he would be the kind of person I could listen to ramble on hours about music. Well, this is the closest I'll ever get to that conversation. Be forewarned, those looking for a tell-all about his time with Talking Heads or as a solo musician will be generally disappointed, I found his personal anecdotes generally the weakest part of the book. This did not make me want to rediscover his works the way Keith Richards' Life had me digging through every Rolling Stones record ever made.

What this book offers are fascinating musings, anecdotes and his personal thoughts (infused with his dry wit) on music that made it difficult to put the book down for any length of time. The writer of Psycho Killer discusses psychoacoustics (the study of how the brain perceives sounds), how Bing Crosby's love for golf advanced recording technology, and how the record companies' greed forced MTV to stop broadcasting videos and get into the reality TV business.

I think there are flaws in this book but from one of the most cerebral musicians working today, it is still a great read and one I'm telling every musician and music geek I know to read this book!
36 von 44 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a3b0408) von 5 Sternen Overall quite excellent, but in Chapter 9 he's faking it 18. Mai 2014
Von Jerome W. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I enjoyed this book. It has transparency and thoughtfulness I haven't seen in other books about music. Mr Byrne gets to the guts of what's going on in music today.

I claim, however, that in Chapter 9 he's faking it. For those who have not read this chapter, one premise is loosely that classical music is over-venerated, over-funded and that pop music is the true underdog: underfunded and never getting enough respect from critics especially for works emerging from amateur musicians. David writes: "I never got Bach, Mozart or Beethoven - and don't feel any worse for it".

I suggest the exact opposite of his premise is the case: look at the budgets for pop music albums. In fact look at the budget Byrne himself tables in the book for a recent album - $218,000. The documentary 'Sound City' talks of budgets reaching $400,000 to $600,000 in the 1970s for pop albums - one can only imagine what they are today. Do you think classical music has anything like these budgets? Try raising kickstarter money for a woodwind quintet, or better yet - approach a record label for funding. Those I know trying to get new works off the ground in the classical tradition are lucky to raise a few thousand dollars to do this work. Today the tradition emerging from classical times is the underdog.

Cumulatively pop music spends over 13 billion dollars a year on recording, arranging and performance fees for its songs. And yet they still collectively haven't made a piece as good as Beethoven's 9th symphony. So who is the underdog in this battle? They have multi-core workstations, high-speed data links to each others studios, world-wide access to musical talent in an international studio system, an international payment system...what else? When they get sick they have MRIs, vaccines, antibiotics, modern psychotherapy, robotic surgery, even now stem cell therapies - so following a bout of illness they are right back to work - same for Beethoven? When they need cash for 2 months they have access to credit cards and a modern banking system. My god, who is the underdog? A 30-year-old German living in 18th century conditions we would consider poverty today or a man living in Manhattan with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on an international network of studios, musicians and arrangers. David Byrne can send over an mp3 of a piece he's working on for review by Eno, Bowie etc - could Beethoven have done the same in his time with contemporaries in England or France? David Byrne while writing a piece and looking for inspiration has access to the world's entire collection of recorded music via Spotify, download sites, and the New York Public Library - what did Beethoven have to listen to? Again, who is the underdog in this? The deck is stacked so embarrassingly in favor Mr Byrne and his fellow pop musicians they should be writing works 4 to 5 times better than anything Beethoven created, is it not true?

And yet Beethoven with .1% of the resources of Mr. Byrne persists. Byrne knows full well it is not just the vanity of the rich that sustains Beethoven's popularity: during the Chinese cultural revolution many western works were banned but Beethoven's 9th was an exception - they loved playing that piece. Same with the Soviet Union banning so-called 'decadent western capitalist' works but somehow Beethoven's late work was an exception during times of celebration. It was played when both west and east German olympians won medals before 1992. It is the de facto anthem of the European Union today. It is venerated in Japan and one of the most played works in the United States. Even revolutionary movements like the Shining Path in Peru used it as a soundtrack to their cause.

How does Beethoven have this effect on such diverse groups of people? Why do such different people see their highest aspirations embodied in his music? Is it Beethoven's rich, vain patrons in the United States who give him a kind of enduring marketing budget? That's an absurd suggestion by Mr Byrne and I think he knows it. "I never got Beethoven" - seriously, the whole world gets Beethoven but David Byrne - a musician writing a book called How Music Works? Sir, a book with your title demands that you to rise to meet Beethoven - to take him on at his best - not rebel against him or dismiss him. Can you imagine Julian Barnes writing "I never got Shakespeare" in an essay on English authors? I believe pieces like the andante from Mozart's 21st piano concerto, or the second movement of Ravel's piano concerto in G, or even Beethoven's 1st symphony are an enigma for pop musicians. Despite the billions they spend, pop musicians can't make better art than those operating by candlelight in the 18th century. It is pop which is the overfunded drone army, and classical music the peasant with pitchfork still managing to win a few battles. And for that this music - hammered out under brutal conditions...Mozart was one of 7 children 5 of whom died as infants, he himself had lifelong scars from smallpox - earns our respect.

Perhaps the gods and muses are indifferent to this generation of composers because they are not the gods of small things.

David Byrne can't understand why pop music doesn't garner as much respect as classical music. I've already offered some thoughts on this. I wonder if Mr Byrne has considered what pop musicians do to get attention? If their music is so good, why would they need 'performance artists' to vomit on them, or to twerk and choreograph 'wardrobe malfunctions'. I don't recall Vladimir Horowitz doing much twerking while he performed Scriabin? And I wonder how a pop piece would stand up arranged and performed on piano with no vocals (Musak, anyone)?

Allow this line to travel one step further dear reader: what music would you wish for at your closest family member's funeral? And what music would not honor the event? And if some music is not austere enough for that event - what in it lacks austerity? If some pieces would dishonor their memory - what about that music is dishonorable to you right now as you read this? Allow yourself to detach from the goal of finishing this review and hold that question as you understand it right at this second. What in this moment do you find tawdry in pop music?

Buy this book. That I disagree with Mr Byrne on one issue does not mean this book is not worthy of your time. He has written some excellent compositions and I include this book among them.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a3b0624) von 5 Sternen Best gift ever 27. September 2012
Von Bridgitte Bardot - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I bought 3 copies. One for myself and 2 others for my friends who have everything(difficult to buy a gift for)If you like his music, you will love this book. If you don't like his music and you are a lover of books, you will appreciate the book's unique style.Easy read. Coolest cover ever.
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