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46 Reviews
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating journey through music!
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...
Published on 17 Sep 2010 by Rachel

versus
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good content.
This book has some good content, although it includes the very basic which is good as it means anyone can understand it, but as a musician some of it was a bit boring to read. I am not a huge fan of the authors tone of writing, it is very sarcastic and I don't find it funny, but others might so that is just personal preference. But the content covered is excellent and...
Published 23 months ago by Joe Bloggs


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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating journey through music!, 17 Sep 2010
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever wondered why Chinese opera doesn't work for you?, 31 Aug 2010
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (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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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No 5 stars for no CD, 21 July 2012
By 
D. V. Short "Enzo Short" (Orkney, UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (Paperback)
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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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book about the science and art of music., 13 Oct 2010
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (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!' and listening to music between chapters to put my new found knowledge to the test and matching the newly found concepts in the book to the notes, chords, scales and harmonies I was listening to!

The book covers all aspects of music and the way that it works, including explanations about different instruments and how they create the sound that they do, harmony, scales, the difference between notes and noise, and yes there is physics behind why these differ, why music evokes different emotional responses, rhythm, perfect pitch... and so on! Basically everything you could possibly want to know about the ins and outs of this thing we call music.

Chapter 2 explains what perfect pitch is and also provides the reader with a quick and easy way of assessing whether they themselves have perfect pitch. It's great! You never know, you could have what it takes to be the next Madonna or Michael Jackson.

Chapter 6, how loud is loud is interesting. It explains the system that we have come up with over the years for measuring loudness which is more complicated than you may first think. It also explains why ten instruments sounds only twice as loud as one and why one hundred instruments only sounds four times as loud as one. Yes that's right, it's true. We don't like that though do we? It doesn't make sense. Well as the author correctly points out, six smelly socks aren't six times as smelly as one, and ten salted peanuts in your mouth aren't five times as salty as two (even though you have five times as much salt on your tongue.) After reading this chapter you will see why simply adding more instruments to existing instruments does not add loudness proportionately. The explanation for this involves both the way that sound waves join together as well as why our brains don't add up sounds properly. This, interestingly, relates to survival the avoidance of danger. Our brain will choose what it pays attention to based on how threatening it assesses the noise to be.

This book is well written, well illustrated, entertaining and informative. I whole heartedly recommend it as an excellent read for anyone - whether you're a musician or scientist or both or even if you're neither and just love a good tune! Enjoy.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So that's how it works!, 7 Sep 2010
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last I understand!, 30 Sep 2010
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, 22 Oct 2010
By 
Matthew Allen "mallen" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (Paperback)
Superb read it in three days. Gives you an appetite for finding out more about hearing. Always wanted to know about what music actually is! Written in a very easily accessible manner!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant for guitarists, 11 Oct 2010
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (Paperback)
A great book. I have been a jazz/blues guitar player for over 20 years and there have always been things I've felt like I wanted to know about music - and here are all the answers. From things like how the same note can have a different sound depending on where you pluck the string, to where modes and keys came from. Just about any musician can learn a lot - and have a few laughs along the way.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Guide to Music and Science, 27 Oct 2010
This review is from: How Music Works: A listener's guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and the secrets of a good tune (Paperback)
As a scientist and educationalist I found this book both useful for background information and also satisfying simply as a good entertainiing read.
I like the writing style which leads me gently through the musical and scientific concepts and deposits me at the end of each chapter better informed and eager to put my new found insights into practice.
The YouTube videos and blogs which accompany this book are also fun and informative.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With CD, 21 July 2012
By 
D. V. Short "Enzo Short" (Orkney, UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can't do better for this publication than what reviewers have said for publication with ISBN: 1846143152, so I suggest prospective buyers copy this ISBN number and paste it in the search window above.

That publication (ISBN: 1846143152) has received excellent reviews (hence the five star), and has exactly the same content, except that that publication does not have a CD to go with it.

I would suggest that one makes sure that 2nd hand copies of this publication (ISBN: 0316098310) has its CD with it. It is far better to get it with the CD.

For some reason (perhaps to avoid mistaken purchases re CD) Amazon has not linked this publication to the reviews of the other publication.
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