Et cetera(Guardian Unlimited Books)

How Music Works by John Powell, The Num8er My5teries by Marcus de Sautoy and Click by Ori and Rom Brafman

How Music Worksby John Powell (Penguin, £12.99)If the Advertising Standards Authority regulated book titles, this one would get a slap. The author cheerfully introduces the basics of acoustics, musical instruments, chords and so forth, but what he has to say about how music actually works is limited to implausible pseudo-evolutionary speculation, weird anthropomorphism (does major-key music really sound “self-satisfied”?) and near-useless generalisation (the fact that we find faster tempos exciting is “probably linked to our dislike of uncertainty”).

Denser arguments about the science and psychology of music are to be found in Philip Ball’s The Music Instinct, but Powell (a physicis

Read more over at: Guardian Unlimited Books


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