LoveReading

Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

Music reviews & criticism

See below for a selection of the latest books from Music reviews & criticism category. Presented with a red border are the Music reviews & criticism books that have been lovingly read and reviewed by the experts at Lovereading. With expert reading recommendations made by people with a passion for books and some unique features Lovereading will help you find great Music reviews & criticism books and those from many more genres to read that will keep you inspired and entertained. And it's all free!

The Joy of Playing, the Joy of Thinking

The Joy of Playing, the Joy of Thinking

Author: Charles Rosen, Catherine Temerson, Israel Rosenfield Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/11/2020

Brilliant, practical, and humorous conversations with one of the twentieth-century's greatest musicologists on art, culture, and the physical pain of playing a difficult passage until one attains its rewards. Throughout his life, Charles Rosen combined formidable intelligence with immense skill as a concert pianist. He began studying at Juilliard at age seven and went on to inspire a generation of scholars to combine history, aesthetics, and score analysis in what became known as new musicology. The Joy of Playing, the Joy of Thinking presents a masterclass for music lovers. In interviews originally conducted and published in French, Rosen's friend Catherine Temerson asks carefully crafted questions to elicit his insights on the evolution of music-not to mention painting, theater, science, and modernism. Rosen touches on the usefulness of aesthetic reflection, the pleasure of overcoming stage fright, and the drama of conquering a technically difficult passage. He tells vivid stories on composers from Chopin and Wagner to Stravinsky and Elliott Carter. In Temerson's questions and Rosen's responses arise conundrums both practical and metaphysical. Is it possible to understand a work without analyzing it? Does music exist if it isn't played? Throughout, Rosen returns to the theme of sensuality, arguing that if one does not possess a physical craving to play an instrument, then one should choose another pursuit. Rosen takes readers to the heart of the musical matter. Music is a way of instructing the soul, making it more sensitive, he says, but it is useful only insofar as it is pleasurable. This pleasure is manifest to anyone who experiences music as an inexorable need of body and mind.

Elvis Presley's From Elvis in Memphis

Elvis Presley's From Elvis in Memphis

Author: Eric Wolfson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/11/2020

I had to leave town for a little while-- with these words, Elvis Presley truly came home to rock and roll. A little over a month earlier he had staged rock's first and greatest comeback in a television program, forever known as The '68 Comeback Special. With this show, he resurrected himself--at the age of 33, no less--from the ashes of a career mired in bad movies and soundtracks. So where to go from here? Like a killer returning to the scene of the crime, Elvis came back home to Memphis, where it had all begun. Eschewing the fancier studios of Nashville and Hollywood, he set up shop at the ramshackle American Sound Studio, run by a maverick named Chips Moman with an in-house backing band now known as The Memphis Boys, and made the music of his life. The resulting work, From Elvis in Memphis, would be the finest studio album of his career, an explosion of mature confidence and fiery inspiration. It was the sound of Elvis establishing himself as a true rock and roll artist--and proving his status as a legend.

Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock

Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock

Author: Michael Ray FitzGerald Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/10/2020

The enduring achievement and legacy of a rock movement The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd helped usher in a new kind of southern music from Jacksonville, Florida. Together, they and fellow bands like Blackfoot, 38 Special, and Molly Hatchett would reset the course of seventies rock. Yet Jacksonville seemed an unlikely hotbed for a new musical movement. Michael FitzGerald blends eyewitness detail with in-depth history to tell the story of how the River City bred this generation of legendary musicians. As he profiles essential bands alongside forerunners like Gram Parsons and Cowboy, FitzGerald reveals how the powerful local AM radio station worked with newspaper and television to nurture talent. Media attention in turn created a public hungry for live performances by area bands. What became the southern rock elite welded relentless determination to a ferocious work ethic, honing their gifts on a testing ground that brooked no weakness and took no prisoners. FitzGerald looks at the music as the diverse soundtrack to a neo-southern lifestyle that reconciled different segments of society in Jacksonville, and across the nation, in the late sixties and early seventies. A vivid journey into a crucible of American music, Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock shines a light on the artists and songs that powered a phenomenon.

Outside and Inside

Outside and Inside

Author: Reva Marin Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/10/2020

Outside and Inside: Representations of Race and Identity in White Jazz Autobiography is the first full-length study of key autobiographies of white jazz musicians. White musicians from a wide range of musical, social, and economic backgrounds looked to black music and culture as the model on which to form their personal identities and their identities as professional musicians. Their accounts illustrate the triumphs and failures of jazz interracialism. As they describe their relationships with black musicians who are their teachers and peers, white jazz autobiographers display the contradictory attitudes of reverence and entitlement, and deference and insensitivity that remain part of the white response to black culture to the present day. Outside and Inside features insights into the development of jazz styles and culture in the urban meccas of twentieth-century jazz in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Reva Marin considers the autobiographies of sixteen white male jazz instrumentalists, including renowned swing-era bandleaders Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Charlie Barnet; reed instrumentalists Mezz Mezzrow, Bob Wilber, and Bud Freeman; trumpeters Max Kaminsky and Wingy Manone; guitarist Steve Jordan; pianists Art Hodes and Don Asher; saxophonist Art Pepper; guitarist and bandleader Eddie Condon; and New Orleans-style clarinetist Tom Sancton. While critical race theory informs this work, Marin argues that viewing these texts simply through the lens of white privilege does not do justice to the kind of sustained relationships with black music and culture described in the accounts of white jazz autobiographers. She both insists upon the value of insider perspectives and holds the texts to rigorous scrutiny, while embracing an expansive interpretation of white involvement in black culture. Marin opens new paths for study of race relations and racial, ethnic, and gender identity formation in jazz studies.

Outside and Inside

Outside and Inside

Author: Reva Marin Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/10/2020

Outside and Inside: Representations of Race and Identity in White Jazz Autobiography is the first full-length study of key autobiographies of white jazz musicians. White musicians from a wide range of musical, social, and economic backgrounds looked to black music and culture as the model on which to form their personal identities and their identities as professional musicians. Their accounts illustrate the triumphs and failures of jazz interracialism. As they describe their relationships with black musicians who are their teachers and peers, white jazz autobiographers display the contradictory attitudes of reverence and entitlement, and deference and insensitivity that remain part of the white response to black culture to the present day. Outside and Inside features insights into the development of jazz styles and culture in the urban meccas of twentieth-century jazz in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Reva Marin considers the autobiographies of sixteen white male jazz instrumentalists, including renowned swing-era bandleaders Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Charlie Barnet; reed instrumentalists Mezz Mezzrow, Bob Wilber, and Bud Freeman; trumpeters Max Kaminsky and Wingy Manone; guitarist Steve Jordan; pianists Art Hodes and Don Asher; saxophonist Art Pepper; guitarist and bandleader Eddie Condon; and New Orleans-style clarinetist Tom Sancton. While critical race theory informs this work, Marin argues that viewing these texts simply through the lens of white privilege does not do justice to the kind of sustained relationships with black music and culture described in the accounts of white jazz autobiographers. She both insists upon the value of insider perspectives and holds the texts to rigorous scrutiny, while embracing an expansive interpretation of white involvement in black culture. Marin opens new paths for study of race relations and racial, ethnic, and gender identity formation in jazz studies.

Step It Up and Go

Step It Up and Go

Author: David Menconi Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2020

This book is a love letter to the many artists, scenes, and sounds that define North Carolina's extraordinary contributions to American popular music. David Menconi has spent three decades immersed in the state's music culture, where tradition runs deep but the energy has expanded in countless directions. Menconi shows how working-class roots and rebellion tie North Carolina's Piedmont blues, jazz, and bluegrass to beach music, rock, hip-hop, and everything in between. From mill towns and mountain coves to college-town clubs and the stage of American Idol, Step It Up and Go celebrates homegrown music just as essential to the state as barbecue and basketball. Spanning a century of history from the dawn of recorded music to the present, and with sidebars and photos that help reveal the many-splendored glory of North Carolina's sonic landscape, this is a must-read for every music lover.

Sweet Thunder

Sweet Thunder

Author: Vivienne Suvini-Hand Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/09/2020

This book offers a detailed examination of the literary influences behind the experimental music of five twentieth-century Italian composers: Luigi Dallapiccola, Bruno Maderna, Luciano Berio, Giacomo Manzoni and Armando Gentilucci.

Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope

Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope

Author: Ayanna (Independent Scholar, USA) Dozier Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/09/2020

The question of control for Black women is a costly one. From 1986 onwards, the trajectory of Janet Jackson's career can be summed up in her desire for control. Control for Janet was never simply just about her desire for economic and creative control over her career but was, rather, an existential question about the desire to control and be in control over her bodily integrity as a Black woman. This book examines Janet's continuation of her quest for control as heard in her sixth album, The Velvet Rope. Engaging with the album, the promotion, the tour, and its accompanying music videos, this study unpacks how Janet uses Black cultural production as an emancipatory act of self-creation that allows her to reconcile with and, potentially, heal from trauma, pain, and feelings of alienation. The Velvet Rope's arc moves audiences to imagine the possibility of what emancipation from oppression--from sexual, to internal, to societal--could look like for the singer and for others. The sexually charged content and themes of abuse, including self-harm and domestic violence, were dismissed as selling points for Janet at the time of its release. The album stands out as a revelatory expression of emotional vulnerability by the singer, one that many other artists have followed in the 20-plus years since its release.

The Way of Cane

The Way of Cane

As the sound-producing mechanism for the bassoon, the reed is a vital component in the sound of the entire instrument. While pre-manufactured reeds are widely available for purchase at music stores, this one-size-fits-all option hardly does justice to the unique needs of the musician and the piece. Many bassoonists, including seasoned professional bassoonist Eric Arbiter, instead choose to craft their own reeds. A nuanced and difficult craft to master, reed-making involves specialized machinery and necessitates special attention to the thickness, and even topography, of the reed itself. When done correctly, however, this process results in a reed that not only produces a more beautiful sound, but also holds up to even the most demanding musical performances. In The Way of Cane, Arbiter demystifies this process for bassoonists of all levels of experience. Drawing from his decades-long experience as both musician and reed-maker, Arbiter provides a comprehensive yet accessible overview of the craft, from the differing sound qualities produced by changing the dimensions of the reed's blades to the changes in the reed's behaviors as it passes through cycles of wetting and drying during production. Small changes in each of these variables, Arbiter explains, contribute to the ultimate goal of producing a bassoonist's ideal sound. With step-by-step instructions, detailed photos that further illuminate the reed-making process, and a companion website featuring the author's own recordings. The Way of Cane emphasizes the importance of the reed to the bassoon's sound, as well as the harmony between reed and musician.

Various Artists' I'm Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Various Artists' I'm Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Author: Ray (Freelance Writer, USA) Padgett Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/09/2020

When I'm Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen hit stores in 1991, Leonard Cohen's career had plummeted from its revered 1960s high. Cohen's record label had refused to release his 1984 album Various Positions--including the song Hallelujah --in the United States. Luckily, Velvet Underground founder John Cale was one of the few who did hear Hallelujah, and he covered it for I'm Your Fan, a collection of Cohen's songs produced by a French fanzine. Jeff Buckley adored the tribute album and covered Cale's cover in 1994, never having heard Cohen's still-obscure original version. In 2016, Stereogum labeled the tribute album possibly the most universally derided format in pop music. However, without a tribute album, you wouldn't know the song Hallelujah. Through Buckley through Cale, Hallelujah is now one of the most often-performed songs in the world--and it wouldn't be without this tribute album. I'm Your Fan thus offers a particularly notable example of a much broader truth: Despite all the eye-rolling they inspire, tribute albums matter. They can resuscitate legends' fading careers, or expose obscure artists who never had much of a career to begin with.

The Way of Cane

The Way of Cane

As the sound-producing mechanism for the bassoon, the reed is a vital component in the sound of the entire instrument. While pre-manufactured reeds are widely available for purchase at music stores, this one-size-fits-all option hardly does justice to the unique needs of the musician and the piece. Many bassoonists, including seasoned professional bassoonist Eric Arbiter, instead choose to craft their own reeds. A nuanced and difficult craft to master, reed-making involves specialized machinery and necessitates special attention to the thickness, and even topography, of the reed itself. When done correctly, however, this process results in a reed that not only produces a more beautiful sound, but also holds up to even the most demanding musical performances. In The Way of Cane, Arbiter demystifies this process for bassoonists of all levels of experience. Drawing from his decades-long experience as both musician and reed-maker, Arbiter provides a comprehensive yet accessible overview of the craft, from the differing sound qualities produced by changing the dimensions of the reed's blades to the changes in the reed's behaviors as it passes through cycles of wetting and drying during production. Small changes in each of these variables, Arbiter explains, contribute to the ultimate goal of producing a bassoonist's ideal sound. With step-by-step instructions, detailed photos that further illuminate the reed-making process, and a companion website featuring the author's own recordings. The Way of Cane emphasizes the importance of the reed to the bassoon's sound, as well as the harmony between reed and musician.

Grand Illusion

Grand Illusion

A new and groundbreaking approach to the history of grand opera, Grand Illusion: Phantasmagoria in Nineteenth-Century Opera explores the illusion and illumination behind the form's rise to cultural eminence. Renowned opera scholar Gabriela Cruz argues that grand opera worked to awaken memory and feeling in a way never before experienced in the opera house, asserting that the concept of spectacle was the defining cultural apparatus of the art form after the 1820s. Parisian audiences at the Academie Royale de Musique were struck by the novelty and power of grand opera upon the introduction of gaslight illumination, a technological innovation that quickly influenced productions across the Western operatic world. With this innovation, grand opera transformed into an audio-visual spectacle, delivering dream-like images and evoking the ghosts of its audiences' past. Through case studies of operas by Giacomo Meyerbeer, Richard Wagner, and Giuseppe Verdi, Cruz demonstrates how these works became an increasingly sophisticated medium by which audiences could conjure up the past and be transported away from the breakdown of modern life. A historically informed narrative that traverses far and wide, from dingy popular theatres in post-revolutionary Paris, to nautical shows in London, and finally to Egyptian mummies, Grand Illusion provides a fresh departure from previous scholarship, highlighting the often-neglected visual side of grand opera.