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  • Published: 5 October 2022
  • ISBN: 9781847926562
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $35.00

This Is What It Sounds Like

What the Music You Love Says About You




A legendary record-producer-turned-brain-scientist explains why you fall in love with music

Despite being unable to play an instrument, Susan Rogers became an extraordinarily successful record producer - and certainly one of the most successful women record producers in history - because of her ability to listen. (She was an engineer on Prince's "When Doves Cry", which inspired the title of the book.)

This is What It Sounds Like distils a lifetime's expertise as a producer and an award-winning professor with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience, to present a new theory of listening for everyday music fans. Each person has a unique identity as a listener, she explains, determined by seven influential dimensions of musical listening: authenticity, realism, novelty, melody, lyrics, rhythm and timbre.


In helping readers understand and embrace their personal musical identity, Rogers explores the different ways music appeals to our mind and body, how falling in love with a song is a lot like falling in love with a person, and what your preferred music reveals about what you need to feel whole. Told in a lively, empathetic style, with fascinating stories of encounters with musicians from Prince to Miles Davis to David Byrne, This is What it Sounds Like will change your musical life.

  • Published: 5 October 2022
  • ISBN: 9781847926562
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $35.00

Praise for This Is What It Sounds Like

This Is What It Sounds Like is a revelation... extraordinary insights about music, emotion, and the brain... An instant classic, [it] should be read by anyone who has ever been moved by a piece of music-in other words, everyone

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Your Brain on Music and The Organized Mind

If you've ever wondered why you love a song and what that says about you this book will help you understand why. Susan is one of the smartest people in the world of music and this book will help you hear music more deeply and more thoughtfully. You can tell why Prince loved working with her

Touré, author of I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon

A deliciously nerdy resource for music lovers, and for anyone who thinks deeply about music and how it moves them

Jessica Hopper, author of First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

Susan Rogers found her superpower in the music world not as a musician, but as a master listener. Rogers' book is a gift to music listeners of all kinds - because in listening, we hear not only the music, we hear the sonic signature of our own soul

Dan Charnas, New York Times bestselling author of Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

Why do we like the music we like? With a provocative blend of studio stories and fascinating neuroscience, celebrated producer and engineer Susan Rogers sets out to answer this eternal mystery - and, along the way, just might turn you into a better listener

Alan Light, music journalist and author of Let's Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain

A groundbreaking study of great intervention. The immense value of the insights into tastes, preferences, and aesthetics on offer cannot be underestimated. Beautifully written, this is the book that scholars and fans of popular music across all disciplines have impatiently waited for. It is truly inspiring, the kind of book you fall in love with, that gets us to reflect over how and why records become a condition of the heart

Stan Hawkins, Professor of Musicology, University of Oslo

Susan Rogers is one of the greatest listeners and feelers of music... This Is What It Sounds Like is just like having a great conversation with her... she has opened my mind to how we hear music, and has once again inspired me as both listener and musician

Steven Page, Barenaked Ladies

An essential music handbook - not only for its smart exploration of why we're drawn to different genres and styles but for its joyous celebration of the art of listening. Susan Rogers's words dance on the page with their sheer enthusiasm and eloquence. The way she illuminates what makes music so effective - from breaking down a Kanye West instrumental to the vocal skill of Frank Sinatra - will have you reconsidering songcraft and the way you process it. I wish I'd had a book like this when I was starting out as a music journalist. And, of course, I could read her personal stories about being in the studio with Prince forever. This Is What It Sounds Like is a triumph of the personal, technical and philosophical, fizzing with energy and insight, and a crucial addition to the canon of music must-reads

Kate Hutchinson, journalist and broadcaster

Like a therapist that untangled my musical relationships, Susan Rogers helped me understand my past and gave me a map to work out where I want to go next. I understood why I love the records I do and now I've got a map for my next treasure hunt

Mobeen Azhar, award-winning journalist and filmmaker

The mysterious gravitational tractor beam of musical obsession that has directed my entire life has now been explained so eloquently by Susan Rogers. She has guided me on a righteous riff to the engine room of my own unique musical journey

Craig Northey, musician and film and TV composer

Susan Rogers is the only person who could have written this incredible book. Her passionate love of music, her vast experience creating history in the recording studio, and her deep knowledge about the subject helped me understand WHY I love the music in my life. She will open your ears and eyes in a way you won't expect. I cannot get this book out of my head

Duane Tudahl, Author, Television Producer

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