The best books about making noise

Who am I?

Music is a major passion of mine. I’m highly involved in making and promoting independent music both locally and internationally via social media. The primary focus of all my endeavors is promoting a do-it-yourself ethos. Whenever I work with musicians, I’m always fascinated by how their creativity allows them to do a lot with a little. Hence, I suppose, the story of Frankie Lumlit. It’s a story about falling in love with music and finding a way to make it even when the world says no.

I wrote...

Frankie Lumlit's Janky Drumkit

By Marc Schuster,

Book cover of Frankie Lumlit's Janky Drumkit

What is my book about?

When his parents tell him that he can’t have a drumkit, Frankie Lumlit builds one out of odds and ends he finds in the family recycling bin. Frankie’s excitement, however, is dimmed when his friend Alfonse laughs at his creation. But then Frankie’s favorite band overhears his drumming and asks if they can borrow his drums. As a token of appreciation, they invite him to that night’s concert where Frankie Lumlit’s janky drumkit takes center stage. 

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The books I picked & why

How Music Works

By David Byrne,

Book cover of How Music Works

Why did I love this book?

More than anything, what comes across in How Music Works is how much David Byrne loves music. He’s not offering a technical or theoretical explanation in this tome so much as exploring the value of music in society—what music gives us, how it shapes us, and how it emerges from various scenes and other social settings. Above all, Byrne argues, music is rooted in time and space. Music blossoms when it has a place in which to gestate, and the peculiarities of that place inevitably inform the shape the music takes. It’s impossible to read this book and not want to start making music immediately.  

By David Byrne,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How Music Works as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How Music Works is David Byrne's buoyant celebration of a subject he has spent a lifetime thinking about.

Equal parts historian and anthropologist, raconteur and social scientist, Byrne draws on his own work over the years with Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and his myriad collaborators - along with journeys to Wagnerian opera houses, African villages, and anywhere music exists - to show that music-making is not just the act of a solitary composer in a studio, but rather a logical, populist, and beautiful result of cultural circumstance.

A brainy, irresistible adventure, How Music Works is an impassioned argument about music's…

Book cover of Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division

Why did I love this book?

I’ve loved the music of Joy Division for years, and bassist Peter Hook is a master storyteller. Through a series of anecdotes strung together with track-by-track analyses of the Joy Division albums and recollections of specific gigs, Hook examines the band’s brief and idiosyncratic history in intimate detail. For example, Hook and drummer Stephen Morris were both under suspicion for the Yorkshire Ripper murders because Hook’s van had been seen in the neighborhood where the murders took place; they were actually just there to play some gigs, but Morris was taken in for questioning due to his antsy demeanor. Key takeaway: Joy Division made a lot of mistakes on the road to pop stardom, but Hook wouldn’t have had it any other way.  

By Peter Hook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unknown Pleasures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joy Division changed the face of music. The sound of music. The meaning of music. Godfathers of the current alternative scene, they reinvented rock in the post-punk era, creating a new sound -- dark, hypnotic, intense - that would influence U2, Morrissey, R.E.M., Radiohead and many others. The band's image, once subversive and alienating, has become an internationally renowned 'look' well documented by photographers Anton Corbijn, Kevin Cummins and graphic designer Peter Saville.

Inspired by the attitude, energy and sound of Punk, particularly the Sex Pistols, Peter Hook and his old school friend Bernard Sumner started a band which continues…

Book cover of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever

Why did I love this book?

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire looks at the New York music scene from 1973 to 1977. What makes this period (and this place) so fascinating is that so many different styles of music emerged from and evolved through it: punk, hip-hop, jazz, and the more traditional rock ‘n’ roll of Bruce Springsteen. What makes the book so fascinating is that Hermes examines how the different movements informed and energized each other. If you really want to understand the roots of contemporary music, this is the book you need to read. 

By Will Hermes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love Goes to Buildings on Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Punk rock and hip-hop. Disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown composers known as Minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was a laboratory where all the major styles of modern music were reinvented—all at once, from one block to the next, by musicians who knew, admired, and borrowed from one another. Crime was everywhere, the government was broke, and the city’s infrastructure was collapsing. But rent was cheap, and the possibilities for musical exploration were limitless.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire is the first book to tell the full story of the era’s music scenes…

Book cover of Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music

Why did I love this book?

Phil Ramone has been involved in producing records for some of the biggest acts in music, including Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Paul Simon. Ostensibly, his book is about record production, but really it’s about people. Yes, Ramone worked with some big names over the course of his long career, but at the end of the day (as he emphasizes throughout the book), they’re all human beings, and while some degree of technical expertise is necessary when it comes to making music, what really matters is knowing how to talk to people. At the end of the day, making music is all about making human connections. 

By Phil Ramone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Records as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sinatra. Streisand. Dylan. Pavarotti. McCartney. Sting. Madonna. What do these musicians have in common besides their super-stardom? They have all worked with legendary music producer Phil Ramone.

For almost five decades, Phil Ramone has been a force in the music industry. He has produced records and collaborated with almost every major talent in the business. There is a craft to making records, and Phil has spent his life mastering it. For the first time ever, he shares the secrets of his trade.

Making Records is a fascinating look "behind the glass" of a recording studio. From Phil's exhilarating early days…

Book cover of Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector

Why did I love this book?

I knew that Phil Spector had a reputation for being mercurial (and that he was in prison for murder), but I never realized how off the rails he really was. I also never realized how many people he’d worked with—both as a producer and just as a guy who was trying to network his way into the business. I knew about his “girl groups,” about his work with the Beatles and some of their solo projects, and about his work with the Ramones, but I didn’t realize that he was very good friends with Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records and that he saw Berry Gordy of Motown as one of his biggest competitors. Overall, a bizarre, tragic life, but an interesting read with a lot of information about some of the big names in rock history that Spector encountered. 

By Mick Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tearing Down the Wall of Sound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning biography of "pure self-interest and cruelty, tempered only slightly by the great musical achievements of Mr. Spector's golden age in the early 1960s" (The New York Times).

He had a number one hit at eighteen. He was a millionaire with his own record label at twenty-two. He was, according to Tom Wolfe, “the first tycoon of teen.” Phil Spector owned pop music. From the Crystals, the Ronettes (whose lead singer, Ronnie, would become his second wife), and the Righteous Brothers to the Beatles (together and singly) and finally the seventies punk icons The Ramones, Spector produced hit after…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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