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Music Notation (Crescendo Book) Paperback – 1 May 1979
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From the Back Cover
Music Notation is authoritative in every respect: written by a teacher and composer of international reputation; devoted to every phase of modern practice in the subject; concisely presented against a minimum historical background; all terms are defined upon first use. The text describes and illustrates not only the elements of notation common to all forms, but idiomatic notation for instruments and voices as well. It offers detailed guidance concerning music manuscript writing and the preparation of score and parts.
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Top customer reviews
Which is what this book is about: It has - I dare say! - all the music notational information you will need to have, collected in a way that is both interresting and inspiring. If you want to know how to score for the timpani's, for a harp, for cymbals - if you want to write a cluster in the avantgarde way - or if you just cannot remember how to organize the rythm instruments or write a cleff - THIS is the book.
Here is a wealth of information, clearly and exact directed against each instrument from the classical orchestra to the modern jazz and rythmical groups. Limits and playing style is discussed, in order for you as composer to be able to express the music - and also in order for you as player to understand what in the world the strange symbols actually means.
If I should point at just one thing to make better, that would be a more extensive index. You can find what you are looking for, but it can be better. Other that that, the book is so good!
After a brief history of music notation's development through the Middle Ages, Mr. Read systematically examines every part of notation, giving plenty of examples and also providing new innovations in that area. Every chapter is well organized, and the reference tables are a particularly helpful resource.
Being a young composer, I found this book extremely valuable for providing me with the knowledge that, although essential to all musical fields, is rarely taught in any manner. A must buy for all musicians.
One part is on 'Idiomatic notation' for vocal, keyboard, harp etc.... This is somewhat outdated and more about obsolete notation practice especially harp that has evolved a lot, and jazz that is a country so foreign to the author, that he shouldn't even mention it. A lot of this is better covered in Stone's.
His part on Manuscript Techniques is quite good though although it deals with the manual notation - ink and paper.
Many of these things Sibelius and Finale does automatically, but anyone serious on notation, should have this one as well as Kurt Stone's.
I fell in love with the book on the first page. After all only a master typesetter is entitled to comment on two attempts to notate the same peace of music, saying "...In this notational nightmare the musical amateur stands revealed .... The performer does not live who would not prefer to read the precicely notated, clear and accurate version below."
Harsh words indeed, but the book moves on to prove that Gardner Reed really knows the subject and its history. The language is clear and numerous examples shows the good, the bad and the 'dubious' solutions to notation problems.
Recommended as well as a 'go-to-guide', as it features Italian/German terms for tempo, and includes a very useful index highlighting all the notation symbols in the book, with picture, name and page reference.
A manual indeed - and the only one you are likely ever to need.
I was searching for a book to expand my knowledge of notation and to keep as a reference manual when in need.
It did the job, 'cause the amount of info is huge and pretty much every topic is covered and explained in a clear and direct way, with many illustrations and without redundant words.
Anyway, I later found out about "Music Notation in the Twentieth Century: A Practical Guidebook" by Kurt Stone, that has a slightly different approach, dedicating more space and focus to the (relatively) newest developments of contemporary writing. A topic covered by Read as well, but with less indepth.
If you're a beginner, this book is a blessing for you.
If you are interested in getting deeper in practical notation (even if you use softwares, this is required knowledge for a composer), it's your book too.
If you're more focused in contemporary writing, the Stone is better.