on 15 October 2001
I originally saw the C4 series of the same title and was impressed enough to buy the book of the series. However the book is much more than a printed representation of the series. There is a lot more detail than could be presented in a one hour slot as well as interesting diversions and personal insights from the author as well. Mr Goodall has an excellent writing style (rather like his delivery on screen) and the whole book is suffused with his wit and humour-you can almost hear him delivering the text! The subject matter could have easily been 'stuffily' presented as often happens when writing about music, but Big Bangs was always refreshing and fun to read.
This is a superb and long overdue book. It's perfectly pitched (ha,ha!)at the lay person with a strong interest in music whether it be classical or popular. I'm now looking out for the hard backed version to keep for posterity and there will be a few copies on my Christmas shopping list.
Buy this and read it over and over again. Well done Howard!
on 14 November 2012
It would help one enjoy the book even more if one has a bit of background on history of Western Music, but not necessary. History text books record events in chronological order, but big events may evolve over time. This is where the author excels in telling the stories. He jumped through time from Ancient Greek to modern era and picked up five important events. In five longer chapters out of eight, he tells the stories of each invention. I shall not repeat what he told, but I would say each that invention is described in enough detail and not too technical to put readers off. To sum up - well written.
In three other shorter chapters, the author writes about the secret musical score kept by the Vatican, one of his experience composing a musical work, and the influence of Jews to Western music. He also emphasized that the effect of music to any person is amplified at the right time and place for a particular piece of music. These shorter chapters are not Big Bang but are probably of the author's favorite topics.
A few more pictures would be even better, but I am merely nitpicking here.
I still wonder why musical notation was not invented earlier, since human culture is based on passing knowledge from generation to generation by having things written down in words.
I finished the book in under ten days, and my time for TV watching during that few days had been greatly reduced. This is my rating to how enjoyable reading this book is.
on 12 August 2014
Confession - I bought this book because I had already read a borrowed copy and loved it. I have friends I need to lend it to so they can enjoy it too!
But it's a matter of taste - my mother, also an accomplished musician - disliked the lighter style and was unmoved by the topics, except for the chapter on what it means to be a composer (I also loved that one). I found the clear and friendly recap of what are really earth-shaking changes that gave us the architecture of harmony, symphonies, classical music and some of the greatest joy in my life really fun to read, and, I hope, to reread. Especially because it will be so easy now to go to one chapter at a time, or dive into the whole book again, from start to finish.
on 24 March 2010
As a musician who recently started backtracking the routes of Western music, this was a good place to start. The only minor gripe I had was with Goodall seeming to talk down to those of us who aren't classically trained. Though this was such a brief part of the book, I quickly got over it!
Chapters of particular interest involved the history of notation and the beginnings of the piano. I would have liked more because the book does seem a little rushed to cover such a broad subject but there are other materials out there where you can expand this knowledge. Some of this book also ties in nicely with the BBC series Sacred Music so that's worth having a look at if you enjoyed this book. It will probably expand on some of the areas covered in this book.
Overall I think this is a great little introduction for those of us interested in musical history. It certainly opened up some doors for me in terms of further reading so if you're interested in how music has progressed over the ages, then this is a good investment to get the ball rolling.