Book Review: This Is What It Sounds Like (What The Music You Love Says About You)

This Is What It Sounds Like Cover

Give me a book about music, and I am a happy reader.

This new book by Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas goes beyond that. This Is What It Sounds Like is a tour de force, a well-written invitation to think about our choices in the music we listen to and that we love in the moment and over time, and Rogers (who is the primary voice here) is the perfect tour guide.

Rogers’ background is impressive, beginning as someone who helped build recording studios, to a stretch of time as a producer/engineer with Prince, to a producer of many other artists, to her time now as a cognitive neuroscientist and professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Ogas is a published author of books about the brain and the way we think.

The book weaves in and out of Rogers’ stories in the music recording field, but finds it anchors in some key areas as the book explores why we love the music we do, why everyone’s tastes in music will be different, and how we can expand our ideas of not just what art is but how art provides an opportunity to enrich our lives.

The chapter titles give an overview of the topics of music listening:

  • Authenticity
  • Realism
  • Novelty
  • Melody
  • Lyrics
  • Rhythm
  • Timbre
  • Form and Function
  • Falling In Love

In each section, the reader is given insights on the listening to music that is intriguing, with “Record Pulls” — the sharing of songs with others that gives an insight to someone else on your own personality. The songs we share with others say something about ourselves, and Rogers believes in the idea of “Record Pulls” to shine a light on not just our listening but aspect of our personalities. (You can even join the online Record Pull that they have set up at their website: https://www.thisiswhatitsoundslike.com/record-pull)

All in all, this book was beautifully written (a few sections veer deeper into brain science, in relation to music, but it was definitely approachable to the general reader) and the insights had me thinking in new ways on songs and artists and music that have defined who I am for years.

I highly recommend This Is What It Sounds Like. Plus, you can listen in to the Virtual Jukebox of songs referenced in the book.

Peace (and song),
Kevin

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