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Q&A: David Byrne on the future of music and his new book, 'How Music Works'

Image Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Legendary Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has become a jack of all trades over the past decade: bicycle tour guide, tech expert, TED talk lecturer — not to mention rock star. His recently-penned book called How Music Works does in fact try to explain everything about music.  There are by-the-numbers breakdowns of different record label contracts; musings on the ways in which technology and society influence the kinds of music composed and performed; discussions of public arts funding; even an analysis of the mathematical and cosmological contexts of music throughout history.

But never fear, Talking Heads addicts: he spends ample time recounting his experiences touring and songwriting with the Heads, working with superproducer Brian Eno and shifting to becoming a solo artist.  It’s a loosely-ordered, quasi-academic work of non-fiction with plenty of anecdotal and generally well-researched credibility.  And given the breadth of the content, there is something here for virtually everyone (for instance, an aspiring musician could start with the section on self-producing an album, while a casual Byrne fan could soak up his memories of the late CBGB).

As Byrne prepares to embark on a nation-wide press tour–not to mention an actual tour with recent collaborator St. Vincent–EW spoke with the quirky Scottish-born Manhattanite about the book’s expansive contents.  How Music Works, published by McSweeney’s, will be available Sept. 12.

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