How Music Works is an unparalleled account of a life in music and an explanation of how and why music works from one of the world's most accomplished performers. With his albums for Talking Heads, his work with Brian Eno or his solo output, David Byrne has been consistently at the forefront of musical - and artistic - innovation. In this extraordinary book Byrne explores why the past matters and what the future might bring. From personal accounts of devising and performing his most famous work, to an exploration of the possibilities of new technologies, Byrne discovers that artistic creation is less about an internal creative spark than we thought and more about external factors such as history, architecture and technology. "The universe of music follows broad and basic evolutionary patterns-as does birdsong, to take one example. It seems the will only triumphs if the context is amenable, just as in Darwinian adaptation. What we hear is determined by what we want to hear, by what can be heard, and by the circumstances that allow it to come into being."
Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2012: It's no surprise that David Byrne knows his music. As the creative force behind Talking Heads and many solo and collaborative ventures, he's been writing, playing, and recording music for decades. What is surprising is how well his voice translates to the page. In this wide-ranging, occasionally autobiographical analysis of the evolution and inner workings of the music industry, Byrne explores his own deep curiosity about the "patterns in how music is written, recorded, distributed, and received." He is an opinionated and well-educated tour guide, and the resulting essays--on topics from rockers' clothes to the role of the turntable, concert stages to recording studios--will give you an entirely new perspective on the complex journey a song takes from conception to your iPod. --Neal Thompson