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Great Music Book Reviews/Suggestions - Not String Specific
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 

March 23, 2023 - 8:58 pm
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Been meaning to read "The Arithmetic of Listening: Tuning Theory & History For The Impractical Musician" by Kyle Gann.  

Anyway - in looking for reviews I ran across a few videos from MAKENOISE that review some interesting music books I didn't know about! 




0:38 - The Musical World of Halim El Dabh by Denise Seachrist. 

"focuses on his career from his arrival in the U.S. in 1950 to his retirement from the faculty of Kent State University in 1991, it also explores his early life in Egypt, its influence on him musically, and his creative life following retirement"

2:08 - Notes: Eight Pieces by Wadada Leo Smith. 

The book features Smith's original texts accompanied by three more recent essays: "Sounds," published in Abitare in July 2013; "The Creative Inspirational Moment," originally published in NYC Jazz Record in December 2011; and "Notes: My Thoughts in 2015," written for this publication.

2:43 - Improvisation: Its Nature And Practice In Music by Derek Bailey 

the first book to deal with the nature of improvisation in all its forms--Indian music, flamenco, baroque, organ music, rock, jazz, contemporary, and "free" music

3:23 - A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis 

uncovers a vibrant, multicultural universe and brings to light a major piece of the history of avant-garde music and art

4:00 - Reminded by the Instruments: David Tudor's Music by You Nakai 

His early realization of indeterminate graphic scores and his later performances using homemade modular instruments both inspired a whole generation of musicians.

4:47 - The Arithmetic of Listening: Tuning Theory & History For The Impractical Musician by Kyle Gann 

offers beginners the grounding in music theory necessary to find their own way into microtonality and the places it may take them. Moving from ancient Greece to the present, Kyle Gann delves into the infinite tunings available to any musician who feels straitjacketed by obedience to standardized Western European tuning. He introduces the concept of the harmonic series and demonstrates its relationship to equal-tempered and well-tempered tuning.

5:36 - From Scratch: Writings in Music Theory by James Tenney 

Selections focus on his fundamental concerns—"what the ear hears"—and include thoughts and ideas on perception and form, tuning systems and especially just intonation, information theory, theories of harmonic space, and stochastic (chance) procedures of composition.

6:18 - This is Reggae Music: The Story of Jamaica's Music by Lloyd Bradley

7:28 - Spectres I, II, III by Shelter Press 

Spectres Volume 1: Composer l’écoute / Composing listening - Info

Spectres Volume 2: Résonances / Resonances - Info 

Spectres Volume 3: Ghosts in the Machine / Fantômes dans la machines - Info


March 23, 2023 - 9:16 pm
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This is the most recent Music book review video from MAKENOISE. 

These are much more in depth, mostly for those interested in listening to or using any form of synth or electronic music.



0:30 - Sounds Wild And Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and The Crisis Of Sensory Extinction by David George Haskell

1:28 - Structure and Synthesis: The Anatomy of Practice by Mark Fell. 

"An anthology of pioneer sound artist Mark Fell's work charting his defiantly unorthodox thinking on time, structure, technology, and the relation between academic and popular electronic music."

3:09 - Of Technique: Chance Proceedures on Turntable by Maria Chavez

4:03 - Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm by Dan Charnas 

shows how, as the producer behind some of the most influential rap and R&B acts of his day, Dilla created a new kind of musical time-feel.  Dilla and his drum machine reinvented the way musicians play.

5:27 - The Sound of the Machine: My Life in Kraftwerk and Beyond by Karl Bartos (a memoir of the Kraftwerk percussionist). 

“The problem started when the computer arrived in the studio,” says Bartos. “A computer has nothing to do with creativity, it’s just a tool, but we outsourced creativity to the computer. We forgot about the centre of what we were. We lost our physical feeling, no longer looking each other in the eye, only staring at the monitor. At the time, I thought innovation and progress were synonyms. I can’t be so sure anymore.”

6:26 - Assembling a Black Counter-Culture by DeForrest Brown Jr. 

a history and critical analysis of techno and adjacent electronic music such as house and electro, showing how the genre has been shaped over time.

7:35 - Switched On: Bob Moog and the Synthesizer Revolution by Albert Glinsky 


March 23, 2023 - 11:37 pm
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looked up Halim El Dabh


heres a pbs concert by wadada leo smith


March 26, 2023 - 1:41 am
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This is the very 1st video of book reviews MAKENOISE put on YT.  The reviews weren't very detailed, but still the video points out some books meant to free our mind from boundaries when thinking/listening/using sound as music. 

These 2 books really caught my attention!

Luc Ferrari: Complete Works by Brunhild Ferrari - and Treatise on Musical Objects: An Essay Across Disciplines by Pierre Schaeffer.  Both of these books are by, or about, the 2 founding members of GRM (which I had to learn about) in Paris, France! 

Some info I found helpful in understanding the importance of GRM, the origin of sound sample plugins!:

INA GRM: The Past, Present and Future of Experimental Music - great article at ableton. 

What the GRM brought to music: from musique concrète to acousmatic music - article by Marc Battier for Organized Sound (an International Journal of Music and Technology). 

This Video: It Was Called Acousmatic - hearing phenomena, cinema for the ears, Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari and Francois Bayle, "music concrete" vs. "music abstract", "sound object" and "musical object", active listening. 


Here's the rest of the Books talked about in this video... except the books on Silent Compositions (can't write about them with a straight face).

Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, and Controls by Allen Strange. 

This book was the "bible" for many learning electronic music techniques back in the era of analog Moog and Buchla modular synthesizers — those wonderful instruments with jungles of patch cords and with physical controls for virtually every parameter.   

Notations 21 by Theresa Sauer. 

features illustrated musical scores from more than 100 international composers, all of whom are making amazing breakthroughs in the art of notation. These spectacularly beautiful and fascinatingly creative visual pieces make not only for exciting music, but for inspiring visual art as well. The scores are accompanied by written contributions from the artists that explore every facet of their creative processes, from inspiration to execution. 

An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics by Daphne Oram. 

Daphne Oram was one of the central figures in the development of British experimental electronic music. Having declined a place at the Royal College of Music to become a music balancer at the BBC, she went on to become the cofounder and first director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Intermediary Spaces: Éliane Radigue by Julia Eckhardt. 

Éliane Radigue (born 1932 in Paris) is considered one of the most innovative and influential contemporary composers, from her early electronic music through to her acoustic work of the last fifteen years. Influenced by musique concrète and shaped by regular sojourns in the United States, where she discovered analogue synthesisers, her work unfolds an intensity which is at once subtle and monumental.

Sun Ra: Collected Works Vol.1 - Immeasurable Equation by Sun (a unique Jazz musician). 

Sound And Light by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela.  

Together, they have created large-scale works for light and sound of many hours' duration--full of slow-moving microtonal sounds bathed in magenta hues and shadows--that have influenced styles as diverse as the Velvet Underground and Minimalism.

Computer Music Tutorial by Curtis Roads

covers all aspects of computer music, including digital audio, synthesis techniques, signal processing, musical input devices, performance software, editing systems, algorithmic composition, MIDI, synthesizer architecture, system interconnection, and psychoacoustics.

Microsound by Curtis Roads

sound particles lasting less than one-tenth of a second. Recent technological advances allow us to probe and manipulate these pinpoints of sound, dissolving the traditional building blocks of music—notes and their intervals—into a more fluid and supple medium.

Foundations of Computer Music by Curtis Roads

Thirty-six articles written in the 1970s and 1980s cover sound synthesis techniques, synthesizer hardware and engineering, software systems for music, and perception and digital signal processing.

Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic by Curtis Roads 

spatialization as an integral aspect of composition and focuses on sound transformation as a core structural strategy. In this new domain, pitch occurs as a flowing and ephemeral substance that can be bent, modulated, or dissolved into noise. Similarly, time occurs not merely as a fixed duration subdivided by ratios, but as a plastic medium that can be generated, modulated, reversed, warped, scrambled, and granulated

Free Jazz, Harmolodics, and Ornette Coleman 

musical philosophy of "Harmolodics," an improvisational system deeply inspired by the Civil Rights Movement

Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music by Christoph Cox 

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.


March 26, 2023 - 1:47 am
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@ABitRusty -


I watched a video made the year before Halim El-Dabh died, basically his philosophy & metaphysical views, with some of his music in the background - interesting. 

The Wadada video was a bit much for me... the harsh juxtaposition of sounds, just makes me wish someone would tweak the EQ! (lol)  I love the 'concept' of spontaneous expression, of Free Jazz - maybe I just haven't really heard anyone's I like, yet.  Many sound too much like a bunch of people YELLING AT EACH OTHER in the room, for me. 😖  I HATE a bunch of 'Tone Clusters'... I can see one for shock value, but don't see how they can be called musical chords with a straight face! 

Free Jazz And Atonality Explained is a GREAT video from Walk That Bass - talks about Ornette Coleman (don't understand his Free Jazz, when he basically uses a drone with a beat)! 


Surprised that many of these books are relevant to bowed string players, even if it's only for a better understanding to make a cool backing track!  I can't help but be fascinated with synthesized music - EV effects are great, and where would Sci-Fi movies be without it?  ...still a kid at heart.

LOVE the idea of mixing sounds we recognize with sounds we don't - for making music!   Mentioned before, how much I love Extended Bowed String Instrument Techniques/effects.  Hope more people start to see their value - especially if someone as trad as Martin Hayes appreciates them (don't know if we'll ever see him get too wild & crazy himself, though). (lol)

John Young interview at NottNOISE - What Is Acousmatic Music? 


Decided to go back through the books listed in all 3 of the book review videos. 

I expanded titles & added small jacket excerpts to what was presented in the video time stamps - hopefully for a better idea of what the books are about.


March 26, 2023 - 10:56 pm
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I think some of the techniques help form a soundscape.   Not a fan of juwt listening to them for the sake of liatening..  They seem especially useful in movie soundtracks.   Of course liked how they have been used in the common ground recordings.   The old bush recording the gloaming made uses some of them too.


March 27, 2023 - 4:07 am
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@ABitRusty -

I agree.

They can definitely set a mood.

Think I look at so many different things as expressive tools, but yeah - a whole composition centered on them is just too much for me.  Hate to say it, but to be perfectly honest, I viewed the Kate Ellis video I posted in your Common Ground Ensemble Thread - like it was a demonstration of technique... suppose I should listen again. 🤭🙄 

I'm still driven by melody & rhythm - seasoned with herbs & spices!

I realize it's an oxymoron, but I even want some form of melody & rhythm in 'ambient' music - at least a slight feeling of pulse/groove & simple changes in pitch. (lol) 

Doesn't mean I don't want to think outside the box for enhancing acoustic music.

Growing up listening to the MOOG used in music, electronic music, great Sci-Fi, great nature sounds and even the sounds/rhythms involved with riding horses - easy to become fascinated with Musique Concrète

Actually, just a synopsis & highlights from these books/articles (with a little extra reading) is VERY helpful to me.  I have too much going on to read books front to back, and some are RIDICULOUSLY expensive - but quite a few of the books reviewed in the videos pertain to Musique Concrète, it's history, rivals & the creative musical ideation behind it all! 

I think I have a little better understanding of where the music editing/creating software & sound sample plugins all started, now.

Oops, sorry... wee hours of the morning & I'm probably not making any sense. 🤭

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