John Powell


the books

John is the author of two books about music.  How Music Works was published in 2010, and translated into nine languages.  In John's quirky and entertaining style it clearly explains the hows and whys of music.  Why do ten violins only sound twice as loud as one?  How can you tell if you've got perfect pitch?  What's the difference between a note and a noise?


Why You Love Music (Why We Love Music in the UK) is his latest work.  In the same informal style, John explores the psychology of music, from the effects of music therapy to the psychological tricks of film composers.

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how music works

why we love music



Have you ever listened to an incredible piece of music and wondered exactly why it makes you want to dance or cry? Are you mystified by how musicians just 'know' what notes to play next when they're improvising? Or why certain notes sound great together and others clash?


Discover the answers in this ear-opening tour of how music works. John Powell, a classically-trained composer and a physics professor, decided to write this entertaining, pain-free guide to the ingredients of music when he discovered that all the other books on the subject gave him a headache. Here he reveals the often little-known facts and fascinating science behind what we listen to, explaining the basics of harmony, scales, chords, keys and rhythm in a way that's easy for everyone to understand.


He also shows us why a note has a different sound to a normal noise, why Chinese people are more likely to have perfect pitch, and even why Beethoven and Led Zeppelin are musically similar.


This book reveals things that people who play music should know but often don't, and will help all of us - even if we can't read a note - increase our listening pleasure.

Did you know that...


 carrying a musical instrument makes you more attractive?

 music can cure insomnia?

 music can change the taste of wine?

 Barry Manilow songs can be used for crowd control?

 music is linked to human survival?


Why does music affect us so profoundly?  It alters the way we think, talk, feel, behave and even spend money.  In Why We Love Music scientist and musician John Powell reviews decades of psychological and sociological studies into our love of music.  In it you'll find the reason why you suddenly start to dislike that pop song you loved last week.  You'll discover that the Mozart effect has nothing to do with Mozart, and you'll be intrigued to find out that music can reduce pain at the dentist - but only if the dentist lets you hold the volume control.  And you'll learn alot about the psychological, sociological and evolutionary reasons why we humans love music.


A delightful journey through the pyschology and science of music, Why We Love Music is the perfect book for anyone who loves a tune.

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