In Music: A Very Short plays Introduction, Nicholas Cook invites us to really think about music and the role it plays in our lives and our ears. Drawing on a number of accessible examples, the author prompts us to call on our own musical experiences in order to think more critically about the roles of the performers and the listener, about music as a commodity and an experience, what it means to understand music, and the values we ascribe to it.
This very short introduction, written with both humor and flair, begins with a sampling of music as human activity and then goes on to consider the slippery phenomenon of how music has become an object of thought. Covering not only Western and classical music, Cook touches on all types from rock to Indonesian music and beyond. Incorporating musical forms from every continent, Music will make enjoyable reading for beginner and expert alike.
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"But when we speak of music we are really talking about a multiplicity of activities and experiences; it is only the fact that we call them all 'music' that makes it seeem obvious they belong together."
-- Nicholas Cook, Music: VSI
Vol N° 2 of Oxford's Very Short Introductins series.
'Music: A Very Short Introduction' is one of the very first books in Oxford's series. It is both MORE and LESS (not to be confused with more or less) than what I was expecting. It was more of an academic, post-modern, post-colonial, Marxist look at music. Since the Western Canon is the elephant in the room for any discussion of Music, it gets most of the attention, but Cook also spends a lot of time wandering around the idea of Music as cultural system, language, and representation of culture and society. He also explores critical theory, musicology, music theory, and the potential for music as a means of cross-cultural understanding and insight. There was a part of me (the part that will occassionally flirt with Wittgenstein AND John Cage) that enjoyed the academic and cerebral approach to understanding Music.
There was also a part of me that wanted to tightly wrap a brass trumpet around Cook's neck. I don't think these books need to be easy, but part of the issue with academics in many fields is their tendency to write for their own little group (the less of my more AND less). I'm not sure this book would be of interest for many beyond a MUSIC501 (Introducton to Musicology) course at Duke, etc. I guess for me this type of a book, as an amatuer music listener, would be more Schönberg and less Mozart. It is aimed at the few and not the many.
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Very academic and dull treatment of topic
First of all, this is not an introduction to music. This is a book where the author discusses competing models for understanding music. It is not very exicting.
Then the author makes selective use of facts to back up his assertions. I'm no music expert but he leaves out obvious examples when they don't agree with what he is trying to present.
Moving onto the narrative. I feel like I am being lectured for the bad things that I have done while listening to her. I could tolerate her reading in another book where the topic was of particular interest to me. But her reading combined with content that was annoying me was too much.
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