This NATO Advanced Study Institute was the fourth in a series devoted to the subject of phase transitions and instabilities with particular attention to structural phase transforma~ions. Beginning wi th the first Geilo institute in 19'(1 we have seen the emphasis evolve from the simple quasiharmonic soft mode description within the Landau theory, through the unexpected spectral structure re- presented by the central peak (1973), to such subjects as melting, turbulence and hydrodynamic instabilities (1975). Sophisticated theoretical techniques such as scaling laws and rermalization group theory developed over the same period have brought to this wide range of subjects a pleasing unity. These institutes have been instrumental in placing structural transformations clearly in the mainstream of statistical physics and critical phemena. The present Geilo institute retains some of the counter cul- tural flavour of the first one by insisting whenever possible upon peeking under the skirts of even the most successful phemelogy to catch a glimpse of the underlying microscopic processes. Of course the soft mode remains a useful concept, but the major em- phasis of this institute is the microscopic cause of the mode softening. The discussions given here illustrate that for certain important classes of solids the cause lies in the electron phon interaction. Three major types of structural transitions are considered. In the case of metals and semimetals, the electron phon interaction relie6 heavily on the topology of the Fermi surface.