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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This!, 3 Dec 2010
By 
Tiernan Henry (Galway, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Listen to This (Hardcover)
Alex Ross has one of those great jobs that seem to only exist in movies and/or in New York: he writes about music for the New Yorker. Then he goes all over the place talking about and reading what he's written. If he didn't write so well, so passionately and so engagingly it would be easy to hate him. And, by all accounts, he's a nice man too. Feck sake.
After the deserved success of "The Rest Is Noise" Ross has followed up with "Listen To This", which is essentially a collection of essays and pieces that he's written (mostly from the New Yorker). It's a really well collated collection and it displays his catholic tastes, from Bjork and Dylan to Brahms and John Luther Adams, and it also allows him to rove and range with an idea across the musical landscape: his long and engrossing piece on bass lines makes the book worth purchasing alone. But don't think this is a fusty exercise in musical elitism; Ross is extremely knowledgeable about music and he writes beautifully about structure, melody and composition, but his real gift is how he draws readers in and takes them on his journey too. His enthusiasm for his subjects is open and unguarded (but not uncritical) and he sweeps you along.
I'd been reading his pieces only every so often when I first read his great tale of his road trip with Dylan back in 1998. I was taken aback with how well he wrote about Dylan's music and his performances; I've been a Ross fan since then. Writing about music and musicians is fraught, at best. When it goes wrong, or more commonly when it goes flat and stale, it can be dreadful; when it works it really works. Good writing about music is unusual and the best of writers soar with the songs and melodies. And, most importantly, they send you back to the music. Ross is one of the good ones and you'll find yourself putting the book down to root through your records or cds or ipod to listen to something. And you'll find new stuff too: Ross' gorgeous description of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's singing of Bach Cantatas had me off to Amazon. And I wasn't disappointed.
Have a look at Ross' website where he has appended musical tags and tips for each chapter of the book.
And, in the meantime: read this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting and informative, 10 July 2013
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This review is from: Listen to This (Hardcover)
A very enjoyable book written in a way that non musically trained people (which I happen to be) will find interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner, 28 Jun 2013
By 
J. Myles (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Listen to This (Kindle Edition)
Alex Ross on fine form again. If you liked The Rest Is Noise then you will love this as well.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to This, 6 Jan 2011
This review is from: Listen to This (Hardcover)
Brilliant. I want to know more about music and this book was refreshing and informative....it links to a web site as well so the reader can listen to music referred to...it can't get better than that.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I still have to read the other 3 books. Pls come back later on . tks!, 2 May 2013
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This review is from: Listen to This (Hardcover)
have read the two books by alex ross and found them highly competent, informative and well documented. Would recommend them to anybody looking for literature regarding music, their authors & performers -
ettore ulivelli
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The unity of music, 15 Dec 2010
By 
Serghiou Const (Nicosia, Cyprus) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Listen to This (Hardcover)
If there is an underlying theme in this beautiful book this is the unity of music, classical and popular. The distinction between classical music as 'high art' and popular music as 'low art' is false. As Berg once aptly remarked to Gershwin, music is music. The author in providing an insight into the music of the Finn song-writer and singer Bjiork is simultaneously expressing criticism to both classical and popular musicians but also possibly expressing an ideal:'music is restored to its original bliss, free both of the fear of pretension that limits popular music and of the fear of vulgarity that limits classical music. The creative artist once more moves along an unbroken continuum, from folk to art and back again.'

The elements that comprise the book's fascination are the erudition of the author -music critic for the New Yorker - his unbound love for the subject, his charisma in writing exemplified in the compelling narrative and the unimpeded flow of the prose, his personal interaction with the living musicians presented in the text and his uncanny ability to sketch the personalities of musicians - live and dead - appearing in the book and to provide a profound insight into the character and characteristics of their music.

The book organized in three parts combines revised New Yorker articles, with one long piece written for the occasion. The first part comprise three aerial surveys of the musical landscape, encompassing both classical and pop terrain. The first chapter is a kind of memoir turned manifesto. The chapter 'Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues' is the new thing - a whirlwind history of music told through two or three bass lines. 'Infernal Machines' brings together thoughts on the intersection of music and technology. The verdict is positive on Technology in that it democratizes music.

The second part traces a dozen or so musicians living and dead:composers, conductors, pianists, string quartets, rock bands, singer-song writers, high-school band teachers. These essays generally excellent, some masterly are self-sufficient and consequently they can be read in any sequence and not necessarily in the order they appear in the book.

The final part describes three radically different figures - Bob Dylan, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and Johannes Brahms who touch on things almost too deep for words. I found the essay on Dylan particularly fascinating and intriguing and possessing an elusive personality. Dylan is seldom talked in musical terms:his work is nalysed instead as poetry, wisdom or causing bafflement.

Somehow I feel the urge to conclude the review with three Dylan songs of the several that appear in the text:

William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled round his diamond finger
At a Baltimore society gathering.

Me, I'm still on the road, heading for another joint
We always did feel the same, we just saw from a different point
Of view
Tangled up in blue.

A saxophone someplace far off played
As she was walking on by the arcade
As the light burst through a beat-up shade
Where he was waking up
She dropped a coin into the cup
Of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate.
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1 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done!, 12 Jan 2011
By 
Mary Fletcher (Assisi, (Pg.) Italy) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Listen to This (Hardcover)
Thank you, seller, for excellent service. The book was well-packaged and arrive in good order and in good time. Mary F
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