But none of them are music books
Articles like these are the reason i'm a subscriber. It gives me a whole other and deep ways of hearing and thinking about music. It throws us, the readers, in a new universe expecting our visit. Invites us to get in touch with special books, new thoughts and unexpected feelings.
This is gold, Ted.
Thank you for remember us that music and culture are a great adventure
Just a note from a lawyer and music writer to say I love your work.
Bar none, the best substack I’ve subscribed to… Totally life changing…
I've started reading Music A Subversive History and I can see how all these books informed your views. Thank you for listing them. I don't know if I have enough years left to read them all but I'll read what I can.
This ‘song-line’ is otherworldly fabulous. OMG, Graves’ The White Goddess. Yes! Thank you!
Thanks--I will check out some of these. Now how about listing 12 books on music that you really like?
These are all great examples of what I call (for lack of a better term) “reading sideways.” I find that if I am struggling to understand something and tackle it head on by reading obviously relevant books, I learn more or less what I expected to learn. If instead I read unrelated but thoughtful and interesting books, they often spark unexpected connections and perspectives that are far more useful to me in the long run. I’m happy to find someone else who thinks this way — it’s probably why I enjoy your writing so much!
Great column again, Ted... Each one of these books deserves a column in itself, if or when you have the time... Thanks again for these wonderful ruminations on so many intriguing topics...
Ted, you are a gem! You are helping to shape the landscape of western music. You are reuniting music with itself throughout the world. You remind your readers that music is a continuum, a conversation - not a sprint or a string of staccato strikes. Thanks to you, I view time signatures, tempo and audience interaction from the stage much differently these days. I'm grateful to Rick Beato for turning me on to you and your lens on life. So there it is - social media is good for some things.
I probably should not have majored in music in college. Looking back on it (I'm past 70 and retired), I can name a whole list of subjects I would have been better at. But I did end up talking about music for a living (public radio), and one of the reasons I don't regret my choice is that I got to take classes from a particularly charismatic, strange, and witty teacher. His suggested reading list had nary a book about music on it. He didn't teach theory or history; he was never a dates-and-names guy. He had us read "Wuthering Heights" (if we hadn't already), and "The Sorrows of Young Werther" to understand what "romantic" means in connection with music. The book that had the strongest influence on me was Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet". Thinking back on it, I'm amazed he was on the faculty in the first place. But I'm far from the only former student of his who can't believe his or her luck at having known him.
Thanks for broadening my possible palette, I'll have to get some of these books. Of course, Flow is a hugely important book. Hey, " . . . shaken and stirred . . . " This is beyond James Bond!
"It was only later that I returned to Girard with humility and respect . . . " Just as I returned to Miles Davis to recognize his genius, as I had first denigrated his trumpet playing when I was a young trumpet player. I was a strong player . . . in the classical sense, and what he did I heard through limited ears (and imagination).
Oh well, we all grow up! Thanks again for these book recs . . .
I've read "The Gift" before, but I didn't take *that* away from it. Maybe another go with "new eyes" might be a good idea! ;-)
Thank you, Ted. It is important to look large in order to see small. Once, paddling solo in a canoe, I tried desperately to reach a point on the opposite shore. But the wind kept forcing me off course. Finally, I spotted a gleaming far-off island—where I really wanted to go! I started paddling for it—and without even realizing—or trying—passed right by my original destination. PG
Great list Ted! I need to figure out how to stuff more hours into my day to read some, LOL. Here’s another good one that is directly about music (perhaps for a different list?): “African Rhythm and African Sensibility,” by John Miller Chernoff (and an introduction by David Byrne).
Excellent! Will definitely be ordering some of these. Regarding the role of the Iberian Peninsula in bringing music and rythms into Europe from the Islamic World, there is a book (In Spanish, so far untranslated as far as I know) called El ritmo perdido by Santiago Auserón, that deals with the issue in depth.
It's one of the best books on music I've ever read and written by a musician; Auserón was a member of Spanish band Radio Futura which was very successful in the eighties, and then moved on to a solo career by the name Juan Perro, and got into research specialising in the role of Spanish and Hispanic music in dispersing African and Middle Eastern rythms and songs (gross simplification).
The first week of freshman year (just had my 50th reunion a few weeks ago), a group of us met with our "Keyceptor" - a senior who would introduce us to the "keycepts" (key concepts) that we needed to know to get us acclimated to college. He warned us that there were three universalities coming our way: our hair would get longer, our thinking would become more liberal, and we'd break up with our high school girlfriend. He neglected to reveal the all-important fourth: we would come face-to-face with the vast expanse of our ignorance. A life-long love of reading has made nary a dent in that expanse; perhaps that's why I'm chagrined whenever I pass the Roanoke bookstore called "Too Many Books." You're not helping the cause!
But let me return the favor - a couple of years ago, I immersed myself in Eric Kandel (the 2004 Laureate in Medicine) with In Search of Memory and The Age of Insight. In between, I read his Reductionism in Art and Brain Science. These are brilliant works (though Search and Insight are both very long) and end up being an owner's guide for anyone with a brain. How our noggins process images - both visual and aural - is obviously a fascinating topic; that we do so without necessarily understanding how is fortunate, but it certainly is richer when we have at least a superficial grasp of what the heck is going on.
Adding this treasure trove of reading material that you serve up to an already-long stack reminds me of the reentry problem that we heard so much about when the Mercury flights were sent up - come down too shallow and you bounce off into oblivion, but come down too steeply and you risk getting incinerated. Ah, well...I'll have to add some of your suggestions to the pile and just keep plunging in. Thank you (I think!)