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Music: A Very Short Introduction

af Nicholas Cook

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Serier: A Very Short Introduction (2)

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"The world teems with different kinds of music--traditional, folk, classical, jazz, rock, pop--and each type of music tends to come with its own way of thinking. Drawing on a wealth of accessible examples ranging from Beethoven to Chinese zither music, this Very Short Introduction considers the history of music and thinking about music, focussing on its social and cultural dimensions. Nicholas Cook balances the Western Classical traditions within the context of many other musical cultures in today's world, tracing the way in which their development since the eighteenth century has conditioned present-day thinking and practice both within and beyond the West. He also considers the nature of music as a real-time performance practice; the role of music in contexts of social and political action; and the nature of musical thinking, including the roles played in it by instruments, notations, and creative imagination. of colonisation and decolonisation to its present-day significance as a vehicle of cross-cultural communication.In this new edition Cook explores the impact of digital technology on the production and consumption of music, including how it has transformed participatory music-making and the music business. He also discusses music's position in a globalized world, from the role it played in historical processes of colonisation and decolonisation to its present-day significance as a vehicle of cross-cultural communication." --… (mere)
  1. 00
    Teoría de la música : una guía af Claude Abromont (a20008137)
    a20008137: puede servir especie de complemento musicológico a este libro, para la gente que recién se inicia en el estudio de la música, e incluso para quienes están ya metidos en ello.
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» Se også 13 omtaler

O problema dessa introdução razoavelmente curta ao tópico geral "música" é que o autor está muito preocupado demais com a musicologia, não apenas como o que dá nome aos entendimentos do que é música, mas como disciplina, e com isso não consegue evitar de se deter em controvérsias na área, que de fato demorou a estudar seu assunto como uma prática, uma arte, algo social e histórico. Nesse movimento, é antipático porque quer nos convencer (e talvez isso seja um sinal de euro-eua-centrismo) de que estávamos seguindo teorias erradas e concepções muito restritas do que era música. Nisso, há um euro-EUA-centrismo: pressupõe que levamos a sério todo aquele corpus a ponto de ser essencial ele aparecer numa introdução ao assunto; pressupõe que uma introdução deve cuidar do herdeiro do universal - o multicultural; mas leva isso a cabo pincelado primeiro como "estivemos equivocados". Dito isso, não é um livro ruim, mas como disse, antipático - com frases exageradas sendo corrigidas logo após o dito, além de uma interessante discussão inicial sobre como música e obra musical não coincidem e não precisam coincidir. ( )
  henrique_iwao | Oct 25, 2023 |
The author sets out his aims very early in the piece: He "wants to spread out a map that all music could, in principle be put onto".....To talk about music in general is to talk, not about staves and quavers but about what music means.....I love the quote, attributed to Elvis Costello, that "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture". (So why am I reading this book?)
He talks about the role of authors and interpreters of music and points out that classical music has promoted its performers as stars, just as in pop music. And he suggests that the main message of the book is "that we have inherited from the past a way of thinking about music that cannot do justice to the diversity of practices and experiences which that small word 'music' signifies in today's world".
Since Beethoven's time it has become the normal expectation that great music should continue to be performed, long after the death of the composer. (That wasn't always so). There is an intuition that music is a kind of a window into an esoteric spiritual world ...dating back to Pythagoras. Today, entering a concert hall is like entering a cathedral. Within the inner sanctum a strict code of audience etiquette prevails. And the confident distinction between high and low art (in music) still persists in the standard format of musical history or appreciation Textbooks.....totally eurocentric ...ignoring the contribution of other cultures..Asian, African. Though since the 1980's a sea change has taken hold in the academic disciplines of Musicology.
He suggests that all descriptions of music involve metaphor and when we study music, we aren't just studying something separate from us, something 'out there': there is a sense in which we are studying ourselves too.
The history of music has been very much about the constructionist view of art ...that the important part is the composing and performing but Cook draws attention to the "reception-based' approaches to music. He suggests that the two approaches have to work in harmony. But the reception based approach is inclusive rather than exclusive; that we can best understand music by being in the middle of it.
Beethoven wanted to produce a complete and authoritative edition of his music but this never eventuated. A consequence for his music, and virtually all the composers, is that their work was copied and reproduced with errors or corrected and redrafted so that what we have today is more or less a bit of a guess at what the composer intended.
A historical performance movement emerged where the objective was to perform music the way it was originally performed for/by the composers (eg with harpsichord rather than piano) but in most conservatories these days you can hear historical and unhistorical performances of Bach....it's just become a fact of life.
There's an interesting mention of ethnomusicologists working in Ethiopia with the Beta Israel community who consider their origins to be Jewish but the ethnomusicologist's study of their liturgy placed them as of Christian origins. It became a political question rather than a musical issue whether to reveal this.And with modern critical theory analysis of musicology one really big issue has been gender and music. Women were allowed to play music (in some societies) but certainly not encouraged to compose it or play professionally. And there are arguments that strong, assertive music is masculine and soft more flexible music is feminine......and gay composers write gay music etc. As Cook says, "You can read the same stereotypes into nineteenth century composers Beethoven and Schubert". And interpretations of music open up its ability to function as an arena for the negotiation of gender politics, and indeed, of other personal and interpersonal values.
I thought when I first read this book that it was easily understood. Yes, Cook writes clearly in a way that is easy to understand but on re-reading, I've realised that it's very difficult to capture the essence of what he's written. There are just so many different threads running there. He ends up (as he'd begun) with a kind of warning about the seductive power of music (though advertising) to seduce us. Hence advocates maintaining vigilance and an eternal critical attitude towards music and its ideologies.
Four stars from me. ( )
  booktsunami | Jul 9, 2022 |
If you are expecting a book about different types of music, how to read music, or the lives of composers, this book is not for you; it is largely concerned with the philosophy of music. Nonetheless it is a very interesting read, particularly in the discussion of the role of a classical musician vs. that of a manufactured pop singer. ( )
  martensgirl | Oct 19, 2014 |
The recurring themes of this book are that the performer and listener are just as important as the composer and that what music does is more important that what music is. These approaches are more easily generalisable beyond the Western musical canon (an idea that is very bound up with the 19th century) into music from other cultures and into different traditions and types of music within Western culture. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Feb 2, 2014 |
I quite enjoyed this little book – and in general find the idea of the Very Short Introduction series a good one. I’m trying to learn about music, a topic which I know almost nothing about, and this was probably a good place to start. It doesn’t review any formal topics, more esoteric ones – the concept of the composer/artist as primary source, authenticity and relative importance of one genre vs. another. I don’t feel well versed enough to analyze things any further at this point, but I plan to reread once I’ve got some more knowledge. But here are some quotes I found interesting:

“Words do work because they do not simply reflect how things are. We do work with words by using them to change things, to make things the way they are. Or to put it more abstractly, language constructs reality rather than merely reflecting it. And this means that the languages we use of music, the stories that we tell about it, help to determine what music is – what we mean by it, and what it means to us. The values wrapped up in the idea of authenticity, for example, are not simply there in the music; they are there because the way we think about music puts them there, and of course the way we think about music also affects the way we make music, and so the process becomes circular. It is this kind of continuity in thinking about things that creates what we call ‘traditions’, whether in music or anything else.”

“High art or ‘art’ music, meant the notation-based traditions of the leisured classes, … Low art meant everything else, that is to say the limitless variety of popular and mainly non-notated – and hence historically irretrievable – musical traditions. Some low art, according to this view, might have valuable qualities of its own, in particular the rural folksongs … such folksongs were seen as conveying something of the unspoilt national character of the countryside and its inhabitants. But that did not stop them being seen as low art, because they did not spring from the individual vision of an inspired composer. The voice of the people might be heard through them, but hardly the voice of Music.”

“students are being inducted into the world of Western musicianship, in which music is made up of ‘things’ to hear, constructed out of notes in the same sense that houses are constructed out of bricks. And this has two results. The first is that music is transformed from being primarily something you do (but do not necessarily know how you do) to something you know (but may not necessarily do); … The second is that it becomes increasingly difficult to conceive that music might work in other ways, or to hear it properly if it does; the harder you listen, the more you hear it in terms of the notes and chords and formal types of the Western tradition, and the less you can understand music that works primarily in terms of timbre and texture, say.” ( )
2 stem janemarieprice | Jan 9, 2013 |
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"The world teems with different kinds of music--traditional, folk, classical, jazz, rock, pop--and each type of music tends to come with its own way of thinking. Drawing on a wealth of accessible examples ranging from Beethoven to Chinese zither music, this Very Short Introduction considers the history of music and thinking about music, focussing on its social and cultural dimensions. Nicholas Cook balances the Western Classical traditions within the context of many other musical cultures in today's world, tracing the way in which their development since the eighteenth century has conditioned present-day thinking and practice both within and beyond the West. He also considers the nature of music as a real-time performance practice; the role of music in contexts of social and political action; and the nature of musical thinking, including the roles played in it by instruments, notations, and creative imagination. of colonisation and decolonisation to its present-day significance as a vehicle of cross-cultural communication.In this new edition Cook explores the impact of digital technology on the production and consumption of music, including how it has transformed participatory music-making and the music business. He also discusses music's position in a globalized world, from the role it played in historical processes of colonisation and decolonisation to its present-day significance as a vehicle of cross-cultural communication." --

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