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How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell Review

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

Author: John Powell

First published January 1, 2010

272 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780316098304 (ISBN10: 0316098302)

Rating: 4.02


If you’re curious about the mechanics of music, then John Powell’s How Music Works is a must-read. Whether you’re a musician or just an avid listener, this book will answer all your pressing questions: How do we distinguish a musical note from other sounds?

How do we develop perfect pitch? Powell expertly delves into acoustics and explores the secrets behind harmony, keys, chords, loudness, and musical composition.

With engaging writing and delightful anecdotes, he takes you on a journey through the history of music and the science that underpins it. Whether you’re a fan of Beethoven or the Beatles, you’ll discover something new and fascinating in this captivating book.

About the Author

Meet John Powell – a man of many talents. With a PhD in physics from Imperial College, London University, he has taught the subject at the University of Nottingham and the University of Lulea in Sweden.

But his interests don’t end there. In 2003, he also earned a master’s degree in music composition from the University of Sheffield in Great Britain.

John Powell is truly a multidisciplinary individual.

Editoral Review

John Powell’s How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond is a fascinating exploration of the theory and practice of music. Released on January 1, 2010, this book is an entertaining and educational read that will appeal to anyone curious about the role of music in our lives.

Powell is a composer, musicologist, and physicist who brings a unique perspective to the subject of music. He uses scientific principles to explain how music works, from the physics of sound to the psychology of perception.

Powell’s passion for his subject is evident in his lively writing style and engaging anecdotes. The book covers a wide range of topics, from the history of Western music to the science of tone and melody.

Powell explores the role of music in different cultures and shows how music has evolved over time. Through his analysis of classical music, rock and roll, and other genres, Powell demonstrates how music can evoke emotion and convey meaning.

What makes How Music Works so compelling is Powell’s ability to connect the science of music to our daily lives. He explains how music can evoke memories, influence our moods, and even affect our physical well-being.

By providing concrete examples, Powell makes his ideas accessible to readers unfamiliar with the technical aspects of music. While How Music Works is a well-written and informative book, it does have some limitations.

Powell’s focus on Western music means that other musical traditions, such as African and Asian music, are only briefly discussed. Additionally, some readers may find the technical aspects of the book overwhelming, though Powell generally does an excellent job of breaking down complex ideas into understandable parts.

Overall, How Music Works is a must-read for anyone interested in the science and psychology of music. Powell’s passion and expertise make for an entertaining and enlightening read.

This book will appeal to music lovers of all genres, as well as anyone curious about how music affects our lives. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Powell’s clear writing style and engaging anecdotes make this a compelling read. While the book’s focus on Western music and technical aspects may limit its appeal for some readers, overall, How Music Works is an excellent introduction to a fascinating subject.