How Music Works


I read How Music Works by David Byrne last summer and was very inspired by it. If you love music, the creative process involved in making music, the history of modern music and the history of recording, I strongly recommend reading this book. Here are some quotes that inspired me and that I find are great food for thought:


"The act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different and possibly more beneficial effect on us than simply consuming those things. And yet for a very long time, the attitude of the state toward teaching and funding the arts has been in direct opposition to fostering creativity among the general population. It can often seem that those in power don't want us to enjoy making things for ourselves - they'd prefer to establish a cultural hierarchy that devalues our amateur efforts and encourages consumption rather than creation."


"Not all music was played by amateurs - But a hundred years ago most people didn't live in big cities, and for them music was made locally, often by friends and family."


"By encouraging the creativity of amateurs, rather than telling them that they should passively accept the creativity of designated masters, we help build a social and cultural network that will have profound repercussions."

"In the modern age, though, people have come to feel that art and music are the product of individual effort rather than something that emerges from a community. The meme of the solitary genius is powerful, and it has affected the way we think about how our culture came into being. We often think that we can, and even must, rely on blessed individuals to lead us to some new place, to grace us with their insight and creations - and naturally that person is never us."

"I know it's not exactly the same as learning the skills involved in mounting a multidisciplinary work like opera, but I would say: show someone three chords on the guitar, show them how to program beats, how to play a keyboard, and if you don't expect virtuosity right away, you might get something moving and affecting.You as a listener, or as a creator, might be touched in a way that is every bit as deep as you would be by something that demands a more complicated skill set."

"Over time (a lot of time) I learned a lot more chords and I began to “hear” harmonies and tonal relationships. And, of course, I learned a lot more grooves over the years, and how to instinctively feel and enjoy them. I learned these things; I wasn’t born knowing them. But even at first, playing only a few notes, I found I could express something, or at least have fun using my extremely limited means and abilities."

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