Excellent introduction to the technology and science behind music. I learned lots from the majority of this book such as the relative qualities between different instruments and the reasons why volume isn't just additive based on the number of players. Recommended to anyone who loves music and wants to find out more.

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Dates 21 May 2012 – 01 June 2012
Time spent reading 5 hours, 6 minutes
Highlights 31
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Many people think that music is entirely built on art, but this is not true.

Learning how a complicated dish is prepared makes you appreciate it even more, and doesn't change how good it tastes.

it doesn't take long for our finely tuned intellects to work out we are unlikely to be eaten by a xylophone.

it is now generally accepted that it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve expert level in almost any activity

The distinctive sound of each instrument is called its timbre (pronounced ‘tarmbruh’)

This is useful stuff if you are a violin-playing maggot farmer

A chord played as a stream of its individual notes is called an arpeggio

This method of playing the same tune after a certain delay is called a canon.

a piece which relies on the interplay of counterpoint as its main content is often called a fugue.

harmony (drones, chords, arpeggios and counterpoint) will have been used in nearly all the Western music you have ever heard

harmony is almost as important as the tune in Western music.

Generally a scale covers an octave. So we start at a note of one frequency and go up to a note of double that frequency.

civilisations all over the world independently developed a system of tuning their instruments to the pentatonic scale.

This ability to tune a harp to the pentatonic scale is the musical equivalent of the invention of the wheel.

Pythagoras, as you no doubt know, was a mathematician with an unhealthy interest in triangles

Moving from one key to another during the course of a piece is called modulation

The technical term for any phrase ending in music is a cadence.

music is organized by musicians, with their unkempt hair and faraway expressions.

there is no link between key and mood.

it’s the movement from key to key which provides a change in mood.

There is a strong link between rhythm and vegetarians.

learning to read music is a pain in the neck - and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

hemidemisemiquaver (no, I am not joking)

The distance between two bar lines (where we write the notes) is technically called a measure

syncopation makes the music sound less predictable and more sophisticated.

no one has ever said how long a whole note is.

the bottom number of the time signature gives us little or no information about how the music sounds.

people have always enjoyed shaking their bits in the general direction of people they fancy.

playing a musical instrument is just a skill to be learned like any other.

Another problem conductors had to deal with in those days was naughty percussionists.

Approximately 90 per cent of the information on a CD can be discarded in this way to produce an MP3 file.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

It probably can, but I doubt the MP3 file would sound that great. I think the description of sampling and creation of compressed music files here is too high-level and slightly misleading.