“The Speed of Sound”, by Thomas Dolby

This book is, without a doubt, the most engaging and most enjoyable book about music that I have read. It is not about music per se, rather it is about the psychology of listening to music. I love it.

The Speed of SoundThis is such a fun book! The truth is, I had never even heard of Thomas Dolby before I picked up this book. In fact, I had mistaken him for electrical engineer Ray Dolby, who developed the noise suppression system. (As a matter of fact, this becomes an interesting development in their lives, when Ray Dolby sued Thomas Dolby to change his name!)

Thomas Dolby has had several interesting careers in music and technology. First, he was a keyboard player, specializing in playing synthesizers. He composed eclectic rock music, and played with a number of English rock bands. He eventually had a chance to perform his own music, and produced some excellent albums and rock music videos. He became a music producer/engineer, helping to engineer the sound and songs of a number of rock bands.

Then Thomas Dolby went to Silicon Valley, where he founded a company that would eventually become successful. As I understand it, his company developed a software synthesizer using the Java language, that would become the ringtone generator in most of the world's cell phones. And, presently, Dolby is a professor of music and film at Johns Hopkins University.

Throughout the book, Dolby comes out sounding like a sincere, dedicated, human being. He cares strongly for other people, and is deeply offended by the corruption in which the music and film industries are mired. Dolby is a good storyteller, and his stories are worth reading.