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Download How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond, by John Powell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (421 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Powell Narrator: Walter Dixon Publisher: Gildan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781596597068
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What makes a musical note different from any other sound? How can you tell if you have perfect pitch? Why do ten violins sound only twice as loud as one? Do your Bob Dylan albums sound better on CD or vinyl? John Powell, a scientist and musician, answers these questions and many more in How Music Works, an intriguing and original guide to acoustics. In a clear, accessible, and engaging voice, Powell fascinates the reader with his delightful descriptions of the science and psychology lurking beneath the surface of music. With lively discussions of the secrets behind harmony, timbre, keys, chords, loudness, musical composition, and more, How Music Works will be treasured by music lovers everywhere. The book also includes a CD of examples and exercises from the book.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “By reading Powell’s book we can gain a more solid knowledge of the foundations of music and therefore be better able to appreciate it.”

    New York Journal of Books

  • “Any readers whose love of music has somehow not led them to explore the technical side before will surely find the result a thoroughly accessible, and occasionally revelatory, primer.”

    The Spectator

  • “In this distinctive combination of scientific treatise and laugh-out-loud commentary, composer and physicist Powell…has carved out an intriguing niche by using humor to enliven what could have been an otherwise dry introduction to acoustics…readers…should glean some useful background for music study while simultaneously being entertained.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bobby | 2/15/2014

    " Very engaged in the beginning, seriously slumped in the middle, but picked back up at the end. I learned quite a bit about music that I didn't know before so not a total loss. Still I was hoping for better. And the "humorous" tone got old very quickly even though I'm a fan of the dry British wit. This was not that. It felt more like your dad trying to tell jokes to your high school friends that were awkward and forced. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Garrett | 2/8/2014

    " He's a scientist, a musician, and a funny guy. This makes John Powell the perfect guy to explain things like why 10 violins aren't 10 times louder than 1 violin, why certain notes sound good together, and how microphones work. For musically inclined, you'll get a nice little dose of science to explain all those eardrum waggling vibrations. For those who cannot read music, you'll learn how (and why) key signatures work. It is fun and interesting with a few illustrations along the way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anthea | 1/29/2014

    " This is a very easy yet thoroughly informative read. I looked forward to reading it every night. The author is witty and engaging. He writes with authority and without condescension. I'd love to meet him - you get a great impression of the real John Powell through the text. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Tuchman | 1/26/2014

    " This book takes on a difficult task - survey all of music theory in a short volume for an audience of novices. Powell's shows superior taste in his choice of topics as well as his ability to simplify. The only complaint about the book comes from the occasionally clever comments. These comments are ostensibly intended to keep the reader believing he's an ordinary fellow, and not an egghead, but they come off as sounding rather condescending. Powell writes well enough that he does not have to resort to this. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Qi Zeng | 1/18/2014

    " When the author is targeting his audience like a group of tourists who happened to have one hour free in between their other more exciting destinations, he is forgiven for trying to appear as intertwining and "down-to-earth" as possible. Trying to cajole the wavering attention and general apathy, he is mimicking the amusing circus master. Naturally this approach would stymie others who find such attention-grabbing performances and find them insupportably distracting. On such ground this book has failed this particular reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arun Karthik | 1/10/2014

    " Entertaining and informative approach to the history of music, and why Western music is approached the way it is today. The terminology used is simple, and explanations are given where needed. Excellent book for anyone even remotely interested in music, and for those who consider themselves to be experienced in music as well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jamie | 1/6/2014

    " love this..great voice, funny, and it made me understand things a lot better even without a background in music or science. imo, it was everything he intended it to be "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 12/29/2013

    " If you have a decent grasp of science and a love of music, then this book is for you! I really enjoyed how the author explained things in an easy-to-understand manner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Azem | 10/29/2013

    " This book followed a tv series with the same name. I loved reading this as it explains in fairly simple language how the complex science behind sounds and composing music really works. You will never listen to music in the same way again! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 7/8/2013

    " I've always been interested in knowing more about the theory and physics behind music, and this book does a good job of explaining the basics and how the history of music motivated the standards and conventions of classical and modern Western music. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 6/11/2013

    " This is a very good introduction to, um, how music works. The book's witty and up-beat writing style make it a pretty quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kail | 3/23/2013

    " Interesting, I learned some useful info. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ken Rogerson | 3/13/2013

    " Some things about music I knew, some things about music I didn't, some dry British humor. Fun. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 12/8/2012

    " Fantastic. Super informative and got quite a few chuckles out of me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jen8998 | 11/25/2012

    " An interesting survey of how music appeals to us. Admittedly, I skimmed some of the technical bits but overall the author's amusing style makes music theory accessible. There's an included CD along with the book but I don't think it added much to the explanations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave Shields | 6/16/2012

    " A very fun book that was worth the read. I actually kind of preferred the voice of the author to the narrator in the few post chapter commentary but I can see why he chose to have someone else do it. Great review and contains plenty of fun moments when things get dry. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucas Miller | 2/10/2012

    " hilarious writing redeemed this one but, overall, I think this is not quited advanced enough for musicians and too advanced for non-musicians. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Radu | 11/27/2011

    " Pretty interesting and explained in an easy to understand style. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carlos Burga | 11/8/2011

    " Clear and conscise introduction to the physics of music. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 To'c | 6/10/2011

    " Knowing nothing about music theory before reading this I know understand why my little music generating app fails when it fails and succeeds when it succeeds. Time to code! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 4/6/2011

    " An excellent job - the author presents quite a bit of information, well organized, clearly and with a minimum of jargon. Beyond that, he does it in a way that had me laughing aloud often enough for my wife to be curious about what I was reading. I'll be looking for anything else he's written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jen8998 | 1/15/2011

    " An interesting survey of how music appeals to us. Admittedly, I skimmed some of the technical bits but overall the author's amusing style makes music theory accessible. There's an included CD along with the book but I don't think it added much to the explanations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angelica | 12/8/2010

    " It was really good, I got to discover how music really works and I got the deeper meaning of what music really is :P I love that it has a bonus c.d too :D "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz Vegas | 12/8/2010

    " Fun and technical. At the same time. "

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