I received David Byrne’s new book, How Music Works, through the post yesterday. It is a beautifully produced object. The cover is subtly padded, (as if the book itself was actually sound proofed), while the layout is sensitively understated.
Byrne pulls on his vast experience as a musician to explore how technological changes in the production of music has affected music itself, looking at what it means to go on stage, and many other associated topics. Therefore, it is both part autobiographical, and, as he puts it himself, a series of ‘think pieces’.
Byrne avoids being highly technical, as well as steering clear of stories about rock star excess and redemption, it is therefore the perfect antidote to the ego massaging rockumentaries being spewed out by the BBC of late. This is not a trawl through the history of his many musical projects, although they are used as a contextual sounding board to discuss the business of music, (as opposed the the music business). As an introduction to some of the contexts discussed, and the self-effacing nature of the man himself, it is well worth watching the Ted.com talk Byrne gave in 2010, where he talks about how architecture has helped to shape the evolution of music.
Intelligent and accessible, interesting and engaging, this book comes highly recommended.