David Byrne – ‘How Music Works’.

I went to a Q&A recently with the very great David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) at the Curzon Chelsea to coincide with the launch of his book: How Music Works. An interesting debate between himself and the very articulate composer Matthew Herbert* raised lots of issues about the future of music.

Here’s just a few points which caught my ears:

– Searching and discovering is a creative act in itself. Does the Internet make it all a bit too easy? Does it takes that creative act of searching and discovering – & the sense of identity which evolves from that process – away?

-The average conversation is 10 decibels higher than it used to be – due to the abundance of ambient noise in our worlds.

– Interesting fact: Ground breaking, era defining musical genres have often evolved from one time depression-hit industrial communities. (Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester and Detroit come to mind).

– “People aren’t applauding me or my music per se at a gig. They’re applauding the collective moment…The music and the musician create the context for celebration” David Byrne.       

– What constitutes “music” anyway? The new app Chirp transmits data via sounds and music from one phone/device to another. Matthew Herbert suggests that this kind of innovation could make the Chirp App as influential in music terms, as say the Velvet Underground.

– 75% of all iTunes music has never been downloaded. Do we have enough music? Discuss!

David Byrne also has a journal you can follow:

*Matthew Herbert is the new creative director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – the highly experimental and ground breaking sound effects units of the BBC. They formed in 1958 to produce effects and new music, orginally for radio but their output includes the atmospheric Dr Who TV theme tune and the popular science-fiction serial Quatermass and the Pit. The department closed in March 1998, but was revived in 2012. We had the pleasure of seeing them performing live at the Roundhouse last year – complete with white lab coats.