This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You

Norton. Sept. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780393541250. $27.95. MUSIC
Rogers, who worked with Prince on his 1984 album Purple Rain and produced the 1998 Barenaked Ladies hit “One Week,” lays out seven dimensions of experiencing music—four musical dimensions (melody, lyrics, rhythm, timbre) and three aesthetic dimensions (authenticity, realism, novelty)—that create an individual’s unique listener profile. Cognitive neuroscientist Rogers, now a professor at Berklee College of Music, and her coauthor, science writer Ogas, write chapters covering each of the seven dimensions, usually beginning with an anecdote from Rogers’s career before explaining the dimension and the neuroscience behind it. Rogers uses the idea of a “record pull”—sharing personally meaningful albums or songs for discussion—to illustrate her points. While pitched as a method of self-understanding through music, the book doesn’t enumerate concrete steps or tools (like a questionnaire) that would help readers to create their own music profiles. Although the book’s neuroscience can be dry at times, Rogers’s personal anecdotes shine.
VERDICT As long as readers are up for a record pull, they won’t be disappointed. Sure to appeal to many popular music lovers, particularly young adults.
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