How Music Works

The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond


By John Powell

Formats and Prices





  1. Trade Paperback $17.99
  2. ebook $5.99

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 2, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

"Any readers whose love of music has somehow not led them to explore the technical side before will surely find the result a thoroughly accessible, and occasionally revelatory, primer."—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

What makes a musical note different from any other sound? How can you tell if you have perfect pitch? Why do ten violins sound only twice as loud as one? Do your Bob Dylan albums sound better on CD vinyl? John Powell, a scientist and musician, answers these questions and many more in How Music Works, an intriguing and original guide to acoustics. 

In a clear and engaging voice, Powell leads you on a fascinating journey through the world of music, with lively discussions of the secrets behind harmony timbre, keys, chords, loudness, musical composition, and more. From how musical notes came to be (you can thank a group of stodgy men in 1939 London for that one), to how scales help you memorize songs, to how to make and oboe from a drinking straw, John Powell distills the science and psychology of music with wit and charm. 


On Sale
Dec 2, 2011
Page Count
272 pages
Little Brown Spark

John Powell

About the Author

Scientist and musician John Powell holds a PhD in physics from Imperial College (London University) and a Master’s degree in music from the university of Sheffield (UK). He is the author of How Music Works.

Learn more about this author