The Science of Music: How Technology Has Shaped the Evolution of an Artform

Icon. (Hot Science). May 2023. 176p. ISBN 9781785789915. pap. $16.95. MUSIC
The fifth book (after Astrobiology: The Search for Life) by physicist May in the publisher’s “Hot Science” series is conversational, approachable, and entertaining. While some of the chapters discuss details of mathematics and physics, it is not necessary to digest them thoroughly to learn something and enjoy this book. The author makes many references to classical works and composers. Just as often, he also refers to popular music from the 1950s forward, but he does not put them in a cultural or updated context. For example, mentions of Kanye West’s work from the early 2000s are included, but there’s nothing about the artist’s name change or recent newsworthy actions. The last chapter is called “Music and the Brain,” but it is very light on neuroscience and psychology; it discusses non-brain-related topics, such as big data and whether machines can write music. But readers would do well to have a device handy to listen to the music that the book showcases, often with footnoted URLs. A bibliography, lists of online resources and software, and a “Chronological Playlist” of the referenced music referred to are also included.
VERDICT An engaging introduction for any adult interested in the mathematics and physics of music.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing