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on 18 January 2017
Gives you a really amazing fundamental understanding of how music works from the ground up from they physics of sound waves and how our brains divide up frequencies/pitches. An essential first port of call for those looking at music for the first time.
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on 30 May 2016
This excellent book introduces all the technical aspects of music and musical instruments. It would have made things an awful lot easier had I read it before starting on Music Theory!
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on 21 July 2012
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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on 29 December 2016
I actually understood things for the first time
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on 23 May 2016
So interesting! Love it!
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The credentials of the author were well suited for writing the specific book: a PhD in physics and a Master's degree in music composition. The resulting book is conversational in style and authoritative in substance. On the book's completion, the reader should obtain a basic understanding on the physics of sound, the biological processes through which we appreciate we perceive and appreciate music and an exposure on music notation.

The book proceeds in in a logical, consistent and systematic way in its exposition while details are left for discussion in the concluding chapter appropriately titled 'fiddly details'.

In the course of the book of wealth of topics, definitions and notation in music are presented. A glimpse follows:

The building blocks of music comprise notes, chords, harmony, melody, loudness and so on.

A musical note consists of four characteristics: a loudness,a duration, a pitch and a timbre.

A musical note is made up of lots of frequencies all sounding at the same time: the fundamental frequency along with its other harmonics; harmonics are whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency. We identify two notes as being similar if their fundamental frequencies are identical irrespective of any differences in timbre. Timbre is the characteristic sound of a musical instrument e.g. piano vs. violin.

The degree of loudness is measured in the decibel system which is a comparative and not an absolute measuring system. A difference of 10 decibels at any range equates always with doubling the volume of sound.

A chord is the sound made by three or more notes played at the same time while a succession of chords produces a harmony. The relationship between chords and harmony is therefore similar to that between words and sentences.

Chords and harmonies form the background to the melody (tune) and also support the punctuation of the phrasing of the music. Melody are notes which sound good when they are played in sequence.
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on 31 August 2010
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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on 29 July 2017
John Powell's book is a model of clarity.If you want to understand the fundamentals of music without having the vocabulary of a professional musician, you should enjoy this book.

He's refreshingly precise and clear about what we do know and equally clear about what we don't really understand about how music works, too.

A great example- lots of music theory books flail around on the subject of "do particular musical keys have a particular feeling to them"? John Powell explains why there is a difference between the major and minor keys. Then he wondered if the people who say "oh yes, the key of A is mysterious and dark" (or whatever) are correct. So he did the scientific thing - devised an experiment and tested the hypothesis. This is all described at a really good pace whilst still covering everything you need to know: like making his test listeners listen to non-Western Indian raga music between keys to cancel out the "key change" effect. There's more information in a few pages than in several waffly chapters of other similar books on the subject. The answer from the experiment? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Oh, and his witty asides had me snorting with laughter so often I ended up having to read sections of the book aloud to my friends on holiday.

I wish all authors covering specialist subjects for non-specialist readers wrote as well as this.
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on 11 October 2010
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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on 29 July 2017
Excellent book explaining the science of music - pitch, timbre, etc. by a writer who is well-qualified to do so. I learnt a a lot from this as the information is imparted in an easy way. I liked the fact that the book is not 'heavy', there are plenty of humorous quips to lighten up the technical stuff. I bought the kindle version and it works well. The illustrations are quite readable, which makes a change for kindle editions.
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