Review of ‘The Science of Music’ by Andrew May

I love music, especially electronic music, and I’m interested in science, so this book seemed like an ideal read. I didn’t understand most of the science explanations but then the book’s blurb never said it was accessible, so that’s my fault. If you never studied science above GCSE level or equivalent, you might struggle. This volume is part of the Hot Science series.

Book cover of The Science of Music by Andrew May

The book examines what music actually is, how we perceive and process it, how artificial sounds are created, the history of electronic instruments, mathematics of scales and the very current topic of music created by AI. I picked up some very interesting facts and some concepts which made me think.

There were some elements of the book that I wasn’t too keen on. Several mentions of Kanye West (I’m in favour of separating art from the artist, but still, I wonder how wise it is to include him considering what he has been in the news for lately). Frequent references to Wikipedia and YouTube videos, which I feel could quickly become obsolete because of how the content of these platforms is subject to changes or deletion. Explanations of how to use various synthesiser apps, which again has the same problem of potential obsolescence; moreover, this wasn’t interesting to read and took up space in what is quite a short volume.

In summary, I’m probably not the target audience for this book, but if you have a scientific brain and time to spare for experimenting with apps, give it a read.

Thank you to the publisher Icon Books for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 16th May.

Leave a Reply