Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste” as Want to Read:
Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  24 reviews
From the chief architect of the Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project comes a definitive and groundbreaking examination of how your mind, body, and upbringing influence the music you love.

Everyone loves music. But what is it that makes music so universally beloved and have such a powerful effect on us?

In this sweeping and authoritative book, Dr. Nolan Gasser―a composer, pia
Hardcover, 720 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Flatiron Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why You Like It, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why You Like It

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  49 ratings  ·  24 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Temporarily rating this 5-stars to combat the extremely selfish people unfairly giving this book a poor rating just because they haven’t received their free copy.
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
' We tend to take too much of our musical taste for granted. But it is not to be taken for granted that the laws of physics and mathematics stipulate that steady frequencies produce overtones that align in perfect proportions, stacking up to produce intervals that comprise major, minor, and dominant 7th chords. It is not to be taken for granted that we humans evolved a capacity to hear individual tones across a wide bandwidth of frequencies, to discern octaves, fifths, and triads as pleasing ent ...more
Ryan Hatch
If Gasser had actually written the book he outlines at the beginning this might be one of my favorite books ever. As the primary architect of the music genome project, he states that his intentions are to write a pretty relatable dive into music structure and why people have certain affinity for various songs and genres. The portion describing the history of Pandora and his role creating it's musical taste database is fascinating. However, once he moves into music structure and how to clas
Carol Tilley
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, science
Best for someone with at least some perfunctory musical understanding (e.g. the ability to read music), but immensely informative and thoughtful.
**I received my copy through the publisher in Goodreads Giveaways.**

Super well researched and broad in scope, but hard to recommend for a casual reader. This feels more like a tome for a music theory major than a pop neuroscience book.
Amy Bruestle
May 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review

I had a really hard time with this. Although the idea and premise of it I found to be super interesting, i just couldn’t keep reading. I found myself daydreaming as i was following along reading. Sorry!
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, probably because I had been waiting for someone to answer exactly that question: why do I like that song in particular? Is it because it’s in A minor? The chord progression? The singer’s voice? The bass line? I read John Powell’s How Music Works some years ago, but somewhat felt short of explaining everything.
Nolan Gasser provides a thorough and detailed explanation of the science behind music, citing authors and research and giving examples of music works and artists as he go
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
An intense book that goes way in depth on the subject. Not for the novice (I think) but those really into music theory will learn a lot in my opinion.
I put several hours into the book and decided to abort the book. I made the mistake of expecting more of a neuroscience type of a book based on the title. The approach of the book might be very valid for lots of people, but I think the author is trying to reach too many people with one very big book. A more successful product might be to discuss the Pandora experience in one book, the music genome project in simplicity for non-musicians in another book, and the more advanced aspects of the music ...more
Gasser claims to shed insight on music tastes, but I didn't think the genres and genotypes idea was very relatable since I listen to music from multiple genres. Plus I only recognized two of the songs on his list.

I've taken basic harmony and was in bands through high school and skimming over the theory sections I am pretty sure nobody with no music theory knowledge could have made sense of this book.

Plus the writing style is kind of longwinded, and the musical notation isn't printed in a very h
Nick Ertz
Jun 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Where is the editor when you need one? This book is twice as long as it should be. It seems the author wanted to show he was a smart guy. That he accomplished, but I still don't know why I like the music I do. The material purports to give enough music theory to understand - but the information presented wasn't able to teach me. I don't even know what a "third" or a "seventh" is. The one thing the author got write is: Taste is a personal thing and not a matter of judgement. What works for one pe ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
"Hemiola" : proof formal music theory allows for arbitrary interpretation of deliberately ambiguous structure

Our hearing apparatus has resolution far more detailed than the semi-tones of a piano; overtones allow us to distinctly enjoy various instruments.

I could use a different approach to learning music theory. Any suggestions?

Pandora playlists (USA-only?) and chapter notes and figures (with embedded mp3) found on the book's web site
Richard Santos
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Written by the creator of Pandora's Music Genome Project, this book is equal parts music textbook, exploration of the science of music, and a missive to place music at the center of, well, everything. Pair it with the audiobook if you can't read music.
Lee Barry
There were parts that were of interest (especially on the musicological aspects), but it’s much too long and too much of an investment of time with other books waiting to be read.

No mention of Alan Lomax?! (Or wasn’t indexed) Really?
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
GR asked me to review this book. However, I never received it.
Gunther Rogahn
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Large book. Took me two weeks of off and on reading, but I normally read 4 or 5 books at a time. Very interesting and I think it would be excellent for a music major.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
David Taffner
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: skimmed
Glasser says at the beginning that he wanted to write a big book on music and he succeeded. Problem is, there is only enough interesting stuff in it to make a regular sized one.
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting, though a bit difficult for me to understand at times as someone with a deep love for music, but a rather limited knowledge of it.
Jun 01, 2019 added it
DNF. More deep than I wanted (or expected based on how the author himself describes his goal). I did REALLY appreciate the links to hear examples of the musical things he was explaining.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2-goodread_wins
I just received the ARC that I won in a GOODREADS giveaway... will update shortly - but it looks AWESOME so far!!
Max Hechter
rated it really liked it
Jun 18, 2019
Rory Harden
rated it really liked it
Jun 30, 2019
rated it really liked it
Mar 31, 2019
rated it really liked it
May 19, 2019
rated it really liked it
Mar 17, 2019
Patrick C.
rated it really liked it
Jul 05, 2019
Anna Craig
rated it it was amazing
Jun 17, 2019
May 25, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
*I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways*

I wanted to like this book, I was so excited to receive it, but ultimately it's a bit too heavy on the "science" of 'The Science and Culture of Musical Taste'; in fact, this book would probably, by itself, be an excellent foundation for a music theory class at a college. Unfortunately though, that meant for me that my eyes glazed over far more than I would of like when things were explained and I ultimately ended up jumping through a few
Kathleen Hohler
rated it really liked it
Apr 29, 2019
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs
  • Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'n' Roll in America's Loudest City
  • Visualising The Beatles
  • Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop
  • Beatles vs. Stones
  • Henry VIII's Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady-in-Waiting to the Tudors
  • The Patterer
  • Katherine Howard: The Tragic Story of Henry VIII's Fifth Queen
  • The Third Plantagenet: George, Duke of Clarence, Richard III's Brother
  • The Return of Cassandra Todd
  • Red Roses: Blanche of Gaunt to Margaret Beaufort
  • Here She Comes Now: Essays on Women in Music
  • New York Rock: From the Rise of The Velvet Underground to the Fall of CBGB
  • C Is for Castle: A Medieval Alphabet
  • The Tudor Brandons: Mary and Charles - Henry VIII's Nearest & Dearest
  • Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child
  • Lady of the Highway (The Highway Trilogy, #3)
  • The Clash on the Clash: Interviews and Encounters
See similar books…