- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 4 hours and 59 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 4 Aug. 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQDKDI
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Music: A Very Short Introduction Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
For most of us, music is not a new subject. In fact every person has been influenced and affected by the phenomenon be it consciously, subconsciously or simultaneously both. Whether we know it or not we all assign values and feelings to the variety of genres on offer and, fueled by globalisation and technological advance, today's postmodern and pluralistic society offers an abundance of music.
Apparently (according to the product description) this book "invites us to really think about music and the values and qualities we ascribe to it" - and for sure, this is how the book commences in the first chapter. It's an exciting and promising introduction.
Unfortunately as the book progresses in the second chapter, "Back to Beethoven", the book begins to become intensely heavy. Whilst the subject matter is understandable to the layman the explanation is at times extremely burdensome and did not offer a "stimulating" introduction to me. Whether or not you find the subject of ethnomusicology / musicology and/or the nuances of notation interesting, the area of the field did not warrant such an in depth breakdown. Indeed, the excitement of the wealth of opportune areas of attack for the author fades gradually throughout the book as the subject matter remains stubbornly attached to 18th Century classical music and notation/performance. Valid in its own right, it wasn't "drawing on a wealth of accessible examples".
Nevertheless, amongst the detail there are some fascinating concepts that are touched upon. Particularly: the crumbling barriers of the conservative music approach, musical pluralism and the effect of the capitalist/consumerist model on the music industry. Specifically the comparison of the three staged process of proudction/dsitribution/consumption (capitalism) to the composition/performance/appraisal in music is profoundly enlightening.
Ultimately I was relieved to reach the conclusion, which was the most lucidly put section.
[A note on the kindle edition is that the pictures often don't correspond correctly with the text and often pop up a few pages after the discussion - this is a problem with a lot of kindle publications, and often makes me wonder why i don't just pay a pound or so extra to have the neat little book on the bookshelf]
Beethoven is a recurring reference for the author. He did not just revolutionize music, he had something to say about the decay of aristocratic Europe. He never wanted a fixed, salaried position: he wanted to write the music he wanted to write, when he wanted, if he wanted. Cook argues this was the opposite of Rossini, who thrived in that Europe of pomp and ostentatious luxury. Others would disagree: Rossini mocked the rich and the noble in his operas, just look at the Barbiere di Siviglia, where everyone is a crook.
Mass production of records, now internet streaming: talk about music as you talk about cuisine: everything is available everywhere. Also, the average technical quality of musicians is on the rise, musicians face harder competition to emerge.
This is indeed a very very short introduction to music, but a useful one to stimulate interest especially for those who maybe listened to music but never thought about it, and never "read" it!
What did I hope to learn? Well, something about music itself would have been nice. The book should really be titled something like 'Music History with Some Popular Music Examples to Make Me Seem Relevant, and a lot of Stuff About How We Listen to Different Genres These Days', though I suppose that would be difficult to fit on the cover.
However, it drops into a rather protracted midsection on composition- and reception-based models ... "we need both" ... you don't say! And then you're soon into an extraordinary chapter on Music and Gender, or more specifically, the sex act. So Beethoven's masculine style is aggressive thrusting, and Schubert's more feminine offering is gay. This is exactly the kind of highfalutin agenda-laden balderdash which fixes a great divide between the intelligentsia and ordinary folk, both middle and working class. Not ideal for A Very Short Introduction!
I would also question his summarising point that music is "not a phenomenon of the natural world but a human construction". Your average songbird may question this, not to mention any human who happens him/herself to be a phenomenon of the natural world. Hmm. Have another think for the second edition.
I hoped for something on melody, harmony, rhythm, around the world. And there was some, but other things predominated. An interesting book, but ultimately frustrating.