I love music of all types. I’ve never learned a musical instrument other than the recorder but I have always sung in choirs and operatic/musical societies. I generally have music on in the house and it might be the local pop station or it might be a classical symphony. My tastes are quite wide-ranging so when I saw this book in the library it seemed like an obvious pick.
The author, Susan Rodgers, is a musical engineer who worked with Prince on Purple Rain as well as a range of other artists and then moved into Neuro-Science. In the book she explores how people react differently to music and some of the reasons for this.
A lot of the book is about her personal experience and that of her friends and the students that she has taught and I found much of it fascinating. It’s not a difficult read and the sections where she moves into the Scientific basis for why things happen are perfectly understandable to a non-Scientist such as myself. I loved the personal anecdotes as well as the nuggets of information such as how Frank Sinatra turned himself into the amazing singer that he was.
The book is divided into chapters that focus on one element of music such as melody, lyrics etc which makes it easy to read. I particularly enjoyed those two chapters as I think that it’s the melody and lyrics that attract most of us to any particular piece of music. I know in my case, nearly all of the pieces I love, whether classical or popular have a melody line that I can easily sing along too.
In each of the chapters, she discusses various tracks of music that illustrate the points that she is making and one of the things that I loved is that all of the tracks are available on a website. It was really helpful to be able to click on each of the songs and see how it fitted into the point that she was making. The songbook can be found at https://www.thisiswhatitsoundslike.com/songs
I’m not sure that the book actually gave me very many insights into why I like the music that I do or what it says about me, but it was certainly an enjoyable and fascinating read. As a non-specialist, I did learn a lot about how popular songs are created, how records are produced and how pop music in particular changes over time.
I would definitely recommend this for any one who enjoys popular music of any type and is interested in the hows and whys behind its creation.
This is the my second non-fiction book of 2023 and so it keeps me on track with my target of at least 6 non fiction books for the 2023 Non Fiction Reader Challenge