Story of Music
Howard Goodall

Book cover image

Narrated By: Howard Goodall

Duration: 12 hours and 36 minutes

What to expect

*** Accompanies BBC2's major new TV series and The Story of Music in 50 Pieces on Radio 3 ***

Music is an intrinsic part of everyday life, and yet the history of its development from single notes to multi-layered orchestration can seem bewilderingly specialised and complex.

In his dynamic tour through 40,000 years of music, from prehistoric instruments to modern-day pop, Howard Goodall does away with stuffy biographies, unhelpful labels and tired terminology. Instead he leads us through the story of music as it happened, idea by idea, so that each musical innovation – harmony, notation, sung theatre, the orchestra, dance music, recording, broadcasting – strikes us with its original force. He focuses on what changed when and why, picking out the discoveries that revolutionised man-made sound and bringing to life musical visionaries from the little-known Pérotin to the colossus of Wagner. Along the way, he also gives refreshingly clear descriptions of what music is and how it works: what scales are all about, why some chords sound discordant and what all post-war pop songs have in common.

The story of music is the story of our urge to invent, connect, rebel – and entertain. Howard Goodall’s beautifully clear and compelling account is both a hymn to human endeavour and a groundbreaking map of our musical journey.


Music, Popular culture, Theory of music & musicology

Listen to a sample

A lively zip through some 45 milennia

Sunday Times

Highly knowledgeable, and a brilliant communicator, Goodall has an infectious enthusiasm and is genuinely respectful of all forms of music

Good Book Guide

[Goodall] knows his stuff, and tells it well


Goodall is an engaging and erudite guide and this work is both accessible and illuminating

Daily Express

Great length but still leavened with lively wit