How Does Music Work? David Byrne Explains in ‘Large, Slightly Squishy’ New Book

Sure, you can analyze a Peter Saville-designed album cover for days and doodle treble clefs with the best of them, but explaining music is something else entirely (reader, if you asked us to write an album review, we would end up sobbing into a pile of unsuitable adjectives). Not to fear! David Byrne is on the case. The design-minded, art-loving, bike-riding, musical genius, who earlier this week shared with the world his recipe for shrimp tacos, has spent the last few years writing How Music Works, out next month from McSweeney’s.

“It examines how music is affected by a multitude of contexts—financial, technical, social, and architectural,” wrote Byrne in an e-mail he sent this morning to friends and fans. “There are personal anecdotes and pictures and some pie charts, as well.” The book will be available as a physical book, an eBook, an enhanced eBook (embedded with audio snippets), and an audio book. Each format caters to different senses, according to Byrne, who seems partial to the print volume. “The physical book is truly a lovely object—the McSweeney’s folks are known for this—so if you like to touch things, this is your best option,” he said. “It’s large and slightly squishy. I gave my mom my advance author’s copy for her birthday.”