Books about Music

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Books about Music

Post by Actumen on Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:28 pm

DICKBALLS I ALREADY TYPED THIS THREAD ONCE FUCK THIS I'LL TRY AGAIN

I'm tired of making new threads when I find cool music books and not knowing where to put them so HERE IT IS!

I got thee books to talk about today, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century, Noise / Music: A History, and Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. So... Blue scadoos, we can too!

The Rest is Noise:
Anyone who has ever gamely tried and failed to absorb, enjoy, and--especially--understand the complex works of Schoenberg, Mahler, Strauss, or even Philip Glass will allow themselves a wry smile reading New Yorker music critic Alex Ross's outstanding The Rest Is Noise. Not only does Ross manage to give historical, biographical, and social context to 20th-century pieces both major and minor, he brings the scores alive in language that's accessible and dramatic.

Take Ross's description of Schoenberg's Second Quartet, "in which he hesitates at a crossroads, contemplating various paths forming in front of him. The first movement, written the previous year, still uses a fairly conventional late-Romantic language. The second movement, by contrast, is a hallucinatory Scherzo, unlike any other music at the time. It contains fragments of the folk song 'Ach, du lieber Augustin'--the same tune that held Freudian significance for Mahler. For Schoenberg, the song seems to represent a bygone world disintegrating; the crucial line is 'Alles ist hin' (all is lost). The movement ends in a fearsome sequence of four-note figures, which are made up of fourths separated by a tritone. In them may be discerned traces of the bifurcated scale that begins Salome. But there is no longer a sense of tonalities colliding. Instead, the very concept of a chord is dissolving into a matrix of intervals."

Armed with such a detailed aural roadmap, even a troglodyte--or a heavy metal fan--can explore these pivotal works anew. But it's not all crashing cymbals, honking tubas, and somber Germans stroking their chins. Ross also presents the human dramas (affairs, wars, etc.) behind these sweeping compositions while managing, against the odds, to discuss C-major triads, pentatonic scales, and B-flat dominant sevenths without making our eyes glaze over. And he draws a direct link between the Beatles and Sibelius. It's no surprise that the New York Times named The Rest Is Noise one of the 10 Best Books of 2007. Music nerds have found their most articulate valedictorian. --Kim Hughes --

Noise/Music:
Can silence be "noisy"? Why do punk bands downplay their musical abilities? What do 37 minutes of ceaseless feedback and squawking birds tell us about the human experience? Calling upon the work of noted cultural critics like Jean Baudrillard, Georges Bataille and Theodor Adorno, philosophy and visual culture professor Hegarty delves into these questions while tracing the history of "noise" (defined at different times as "intrusive, unwanted," "lacking skill, not being appropriate" and "a threatening emptiness") from the beginnings of 18th century concert hall music through avant-garde movements like musique concrete and free jazz to Japanese noise rocker Merzbow. Ironically, it is John Cage's notorious 4'33", in which an audience sits through four and a half minutes of "silence," that represents the beginning of noise music proper for Hegarty; the "music," made up entirely of incidental theater sounds (audience members coughing, the A/C's hum), represents perfectly the tension between the "desirable" sound (properly played musical notes) and undesirable "noise" that make up all noise music, from Satie to punk. Hegarty does an admirable job unpacking diverse genres of music, and his descriptions of the more bizarre pieces can be great fun to read ("clatters and reverbed chickeny sounds... come in over low throbs"). Though his style tends toward the academic (the "dialectic of Enlightenment" and Heidegger appear frequently), Hegarty's wit and knowledge make this an engaging read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Audio Culture:
Product Description
The groundbreaking Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum; September 2004; paperback original) maps the aural and discursive terrain of vanguard music today. Rather than offering a history of contemporary music, Audio Culture traces the genealogy of current musical practices and theoretical concerns, drawing lines of connection between recent musical production and earlier moments of sonic experimentation. It aims to foreground the various rewirings of musical composition and performance that have taken place in the past few decades and to provide a critical and theoretical language for this new audio culture.

Via writings by philosophers, cultural theorists, and composers, Audio Culture explores the interconnections among such forms as minimalism, indeterminacy, musique concrète, free improvisation, experimental music, avant-rock, dub reggae, Ambient music, HipHop, and Techno. Instead of focusing on the putative "crossover" between "high art" and "popular culture," Audio Culture takes all of these musics as experimental practices on par with, and linked to, one another. While cultural studies has tended to look at music (primarily popular music) from a sociological perspective, the concern here is philosophical, musical, and historical.

Audio Culture includes writing by some of the most important musical thinkers of the past half-century, among them John Cage, Brian Eno, Glenn Gould, Umberto Eco, Ornette Coleman, Jacques Attali, Simon Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros, Paul D. Miller, David Toop, John Zorn, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and many others. The book is divided into nine thematically-organized sections, each with its own introduction. Section headings include topics such as "Modes of Listening," "Minimalisms," and "DJ Culture." In addition, each essay has its own short introduction, helping the reader to place the essay within musical, historical, and conceptual contexts. The book concludes with a glossary, a timeline, and an extensive discography.

I seriously recommend this book, it's a whole lot of primary sources and a good bathroom read. Take a peek at the Table of contents here:
http://www.continuumbooks.com/Books/detail.aspx?ReturnURL=/Search/default.aspx&CountryID=2&ImprintID=2&BookID=121897

Anyway, yeah, I had something written up of my own about each but this vile monster deleted them.

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Re: Books about Music

Post by Känge on Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:39 pm

blah blah blah FUCK DA POLICE

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Re: Books about Music

Post by Actumen on Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:43 pm

NO U

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Re: Books about Music

Post by El Decapo on Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:59 am

Last one I read was Glorious Times: A Pictorial History of The Death Metal Scene (1984-1991). It was pretty fucking awesome.
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