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How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune Paperback – 26 Aug 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Particular Books (26 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846143152
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846143151
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Thoroughly accessible, and occasionally revelatory ... It's hard to imagine how Powell could have done a better job (Spectator)

About the Author

John Powell holds a PhD in Physics from Imperial College, London and a Masters' Degree in Music Composition from Sheffield University. He divides his time between scientific research, running a laser firm and composing music, and is a Visiting Professor of Materials Science (specialising in laser research) at The University of Nottingham (UK) and The University of Lulea (Sweden).

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on 17 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
I am, sadly, neither a musician nor a scientist, but music has been a passion for as long as I can remember! Without understanding why, I've always been aware that certain pieces of music will provoke certain emotions; 'How Music Works' provides all the answers. This insightful book is written in a friendly, down-to-earth style, and left me feeling as though I'd just had a long conversation with a friend (albeit a rather one-sided conversation with a friend far more intelligent than me), rather than scratching my head in a rather nonplussed manner. 'How Music Works' is unlike any other book on the topic; the science and psychology of music is a topic that remains largely inaccessible within literature to anyone who doesn't already have a Phd in it. However, this fantastic book is full of interesting and witty anecdotes, helpful illustrations, and explains even the most complicated aspects of musicology in a way that is easy to understand, without seeming patronising. 'How Music Works' is a book to be enjoyed by anyone of any age with a keen interest in music!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Rioch on 31 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
I am not a musician but have always been an avid listener. I have always wondered why certain pieces of music are more pleasing than others, and `how music works' provided the answer. Written in a very light hearted and informative style it covers the basics all the way through to complex musical techniques which are explained by way of interesting and sometimes amusing anecdotes. Definitely a book that will appeal to those interested in music from the beginner to the aficionado.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By D. V. S. on 21 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This publication (ISBN: 1846143152) does not have a CD with it, whereas the publication with ISBN: 0316098310 does have a CD with it.

Both publications have exactly the same content, so I suggest prospective buyers copy the ISBN number 0316098310 and paste it in the search window above to get the one with the CD.

Unfortunately, I bought both books, so I can see they are exactly the same. The reviews for this publication (ISBN: 1846143152) would therefore apply to the other publication (ISBN: 0316098310) as well.

Get the one with the CD, which is obviously a worthwhile bonus.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By laura on 7 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Witty writing made this book accessible for me, someone who knows nothing about music, apart from the fact that I enjoy so much of it. John Powell's explanations are enlightening, for example, he explains and illustrates the difference between noise and sound. Useful for me as a Speech and Drama teacher: I just wish my music teachers at school had taught me the facts behind the sounds.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Karina B on 13 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
I have always had an aptitude for and interest in science. I am a medical student and am interested in the human brain and how we as humans see the world and interact with our environment.

One thing that I love perhaps as much as science is music. I find it possibly the single best cure for emotional disturbance, especially stress of any kind and have often wondered why this is?

I have noticed that music can have a profound affect on mood and state of mind. Sometimes it brings about nostalgia attached to a memory that I doubt I would remember without the auditory cue. Sometimes it makes me so happy that I walk down the street with my headphones in my ears grinning at passers by, and sometimes it simply brings tears to my eyes. It is certainly a very emotive tool and science in its own right.

When I discovered the book `How Music Works' by John Powell I thought to myself `this might be worth a read!' I certainly was not wrong.

This book does what it says on the tin really. The author uses a scientific approach to explain exactly how music works, without isolating the lay person. He uses examples and analogies we can all relate to explain concepts in a logical and understandable manner without compromising on detail and depth of explanation, which in my humble opinion is quite a skill.

The style of writing is witty and light hearted so this book makes for an entertaining as well as interesting and informative read. Several times I found myself subject to a few funny looks on the tube as I laughed out loud whilst reading the book on my daily commute. I also found my self thinking `ok so now I get it!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Swindon Ian on 30 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the book I've been waiting years to find - one which explains in understandable terms the underlying maths and physics of music. I'm not musical in any sense, but have always been fascinated by the nature of music. Maybe you've never wondered why a note has the frequency it does? I mean, who decided? Well, this book explains it. Or what is a key really, does it make any difference, and is there any necessary link between a key and an emotional mood? I'd also been trying to make sense of equal temperament in tuning, but had had no luck finding a comprehensible explanation until I read this book.

One reviewer does comment on the author's humour, and the book is written in a light-hearted way, with lots of jokey comments. However, I think this is just what a normally po-faced and technical subject like this needs; I laughed a lot, and I'm definitely not a teenager. Highly recommended.
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