Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Learn more Shop now Learn more Fire Kids Edition Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Pre-order now Shop Men's Shop Women's

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£12.08+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 25 January 2013
"We press 'play' and a million styles, sounds, aural colours, echoes and voices breeze in towards us as if at an opened window. We are like children with a thousand games at our fingertips. We have, at last, reached a point where there are no right or wrong decisions about what music we may or may not enjoy - just one gratifyingly simple instruction: 'play'".

So ends Howard Goodall's breathless account of 42,000 years of music in 324 pages.

I love music - I have hundreds of CDs by hundreds of artists from Dolly (Parton, ofcourse) to Dvorak to Dizzie Gillespie. It is one of the most important things in my life, but I can't read music, have no formal 'appreciation' skills, I can't (so I've been told) even sing in tune: I just know what I like. And that is music which moves me. And all good music does.

However, there comes a point when you want to know how the story of music hangs together. You want to know why certain sounds and rhythms affect you and how we got to a point where Emile Sande, Dizzee Rascal and Elgar's Nimrod among other musical forms can sit happily on the same bill as they did at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in the summer of 2012.

I think Howard has done this in spades and at just the right pitch (all puns intended). He has clearly picked me as his audience and is determined to give me the whole story, with just enough theory to stretch me and plenty of modern examples of form and melody to let me get his point even without the luxury of an accompanying CD or TV programme. For example, "Syncopation is LIKE talkING with THE emPHAsis on THE wrong words TO creATE a jerKY sound." He uses well known tracks by Adele and Beyonce to illustrate how this works and why it's important.

He begins his story in 41,000BC - 'The Age of Discovery' with the discovery of an ancient flute in Slovenia and a discourse on how music was not just for the soul but for our language development, even for our very survival. From there we romp through various ages, "Discovery", "Penitence", "Invention" among them which describe how music developed through these ages to the present day, sometimes in sync with the other great shifts in human development like industrialisation and religious reform, sometimes not. He covers the importance of musical notation and tuning, the invention of key instruments, the influence of the great composers and their quite often forgotten mentors, globalisation and so much more besides........I'm risking sounding as breathless as Howard does: anxious to get it all in, and in the most straightforward way possible.

The best I can do is to say that if you are like me: you love music, but "don't really know that much about it", read this book and use it as a springboard to more reading and listening. With 42,000 years of material, the emphasis is on what is wrongly called 'Classical' music (I know why this is wrong now), but I hope to see Howard's more of fantastic pedagogy on the "Popular Ages" soon. Oh, and I can't wait to see the TV series.
0Comment| 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 January 2015
Never having the opportunities to hear much music in earlier days (apart from TV and radio theme tunes and film scores) or to play an instrument, I bought this book to try to gain an overview in a relatively short time. Howard Goodhall had presented a radio programme called The History of Music in a Fifty pieces, a whistle-stop tour of key figures in the production of mainly western music and this book seemed like a more comprehensive companion. It is. And it is less a novel or discursive format than a work book, used with the amazingly helpful Spotify where almost all the pieces discussed can be easily accessed - I used an i-Pad and headset - and with some of the earlier songs referenced, downloading the lyrics from one or two web sites. So, it is a learning curve if you are new - ish to the subject but may be a decent refresher for some more favoured folks, especially as there is a short bibliography for further reading. It has taken me a couple of weeks to engage with the whole process, because if the Listen with Howard approach, but that was how I benefited and felt a novel buzz to be able to recognise a composer heard on the radio a little after completing my 'course'. Also I could put a name to the music I had heard but never previously labelled. the author goes on to include a good smattering of inclusive references to what we have called 'pop' music. If you are better informed to start with there are still lots of ideas, cross references and absence of pretentiousness which makes for a very user friendly refresher but I have written this review from the viewpoint of relatively unspoilt ignorance! I still don't get the Circle if Fifths but could manage other examples I found this book to be a very competent introduction and I have written all over the margins, underlined and highlighted chunks, so it's one of the few books I won't be lending.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 January 2013
I was a bit nervous about buying this because I know absolutely nothing about music. And to be fair it does presuppose a bit of nous. There is a fair bit of fairly technical stuff in here. Probably stuff the author does not realise is technical for me because it isn't for him.

But in spite of all that its a good read even for a musical ignoramus like me. There's a thread to the tale that even I can follow. So it deserves its 4 stars at least.

If you have ever remarked to yourself how unusual it is that we live in a world with constant wall to wall music, and noted how in previous eons they had to somehow get by in more or less total silence, this is a good book to start with.
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 February 2013
The TV series complements the book very well. I learned more from the book, found that I agreed with Howard Goodall's views on the whole and was prompted to do more research and listen to more music - never a bad thing. Highlights - if it's a tune you can remember, it's Mozart - if it's a tune you can't remember, it's Haydn - that and his dismissal of Bruckner in a sentence!
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 October 2013
Ideal for study or pure pleasure. One can read this or just dip in and out. Ideal present for the music lover or for someone who is studying music.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 February 2016
Howard Goodall has it all: the academic background (a First in music from Oxford), award-winning achievements on stage and TV, a gift for exposition - and a wonderfully light touch. Impossible not to learn a lot from this great book (which goes into more depth than the TV series).
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 March 2013
I am a musician of 40 years experience in a vari9ety of fields from classical to jazz nad rock. I watched the TV series and found it a little patronising, but making some good points. I have studied music theory and history. None of the claims that Goodhall makes are unsubstantiable, music IS often taught in over complex and elitist ways. Goodhall has an incisive way of cutting through all the rig moral and getting to the point. In my view he gets to the jugular and achieves his aim of speaking from the point of view of letting the music speak for itself.
Its an easy read, but dont let this fool you, its also packed with facts and insights that even an accomplished musician can benefit from. Above all its a way of ecompassing the whole of music history in a musical way.
11 comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 March 2014
A first class book well researched, accurate and presented in a very easily readable manner.
I would recommend it to anyone interested in this fascinating subject
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 February 2014
My son is studying A Level music so we bought him this for Christmas. He is finding it very interesting and would recommend it to others.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 May 2014
Just brilliant. As a non-specialist I found it one of the most lucid histories of music I've come across. Really enjoying it.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)