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Music: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

By Nicholas Cook (Author)
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Item description for Music: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Nicholas Cook...

What is music? How is it constructed? How is it consumed? Why do you enjoy it at all? 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.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   152
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.02" Width: 4.43" Height: 0.36"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 15, 2000
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0192853821  
ISBN13  9780192853820  

Availability  0 units.

More About Nicholas Cook

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Nicholas Cook is Research Professor of Music at University of Southampton.

Nicholas Cook was born in 1950 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of London, University of Southampton University of London R.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > General
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music

Reviews - What do customers think about Music: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)?

Music: One Man's Opinion  May 3, 2008
This is not an introduction to music in any kind of real sense. There is no objectivity here. Perhaps you're interested in reading one man's rant about all things music, but I was not.
misleading title made me angry  Aug 29, 2007
Whatever the merits of the book itself, it is certainly not an introduction to music. It is an introduction to musicology. To be more precise, it's an introduction to how musicologists now question a lot of what musicologists used to take for granted. So it is not even a book about music. It is a book about competing models for understanding music.

Once I actually understood what the book was about, I found that it was a very smart introduction to seven topics. Through most of it, Cook is a neutral narrator. In the last paragraph, he lets us have his controlling thesis: "Music has unique powers as an agent of ideology." Or should that be "Music professors have unique powers as agents of ideology."
Mistitled but interesting  Sep 10, 2006
This book is not what you think it is. It does not cover the rudiments of music or the history of Western music (or any other music). It is not about composers or any specific musical works. It is, instead, a look at the concept of music in Western society. It attempts to show that the standard idea of "serious" Western music is based on "ideology" and a certain amount of mythology. Cook argues against the general notion that composers (as typified by Beethoven) represent the height of musical expression and that performers are the next level down with listeners at the bottom of the artistic pecking order. There is a certain amount of fashionable academic blather and deconstructionism present here, but, overall, the book is thought provoking and worth reading.
If you want to know about music, don't buy this book  Oct 28, 2004
Nicholas Cook's book is mistitled. If you want to understand music, it would be better to buy either The Classical Style by Charles Rosen or Aaron Copland's book, What to Listen for in Music, or some other books that would teach you music and not some messed up philosophy of man's making.

The things he said in chapter seven were absurd and disgusting. These things have nothing to do with understanding or appreciating music.

This book is not worth reading. The things in this book are not worth thinking about. Your time would be better spent on other things.

I'm sorry that my professor even had this book on the booklist to read. Thirty years ago this book would have never been allowed to be printed, let alone allowed in a classroom.

This book isn't worth the one star I gave it.
Thought-provoking  Sep 13, 2001
As a musician (and the book may cause you to rethink what that word actually means), this book revealed many ideas which had been festering in my subconscious without my ever really taking the time to think them through fully. This is not so much a history or introduction to music as it is a presentation of both recent thought in musicology and a framework in which to conceive and comprehend music as a human process in general and its relation to all of culture. Naturally the last several pages focus on particular "gender-related" issues because that is the recent thought in musicology, but the book does a good job of not presenting this recent view as definitive and of placing this view within a large historical context of thinking about music. The entire book is sharp, well-written, and articulate. It touches on the must fundamental questions of musical meaning in all its forms, yet it requires virtually no formal knowledge of music or an acquaintance with any particular body of music, classic, popular, or otherwise. Of course, the author assumes a general knowledge (you have heard of Beethoven, the Beatles, and so on...) and of course the more you know of music, the more you will take away from the book, but nothing in particular is assumed. The author does a good job of explaining the working myths most people have about music, without technical jargon. For instance, what does it really mean to say, "I just heard 'Beethoven's 9th?'"? Is Beethoven's 9th the sound waves I heard, (whether live or recorded), or is it the body of all past performances of the symphony, or is it the jumble of symbols and notation which Beethoven wrote down 200 years ago? Why does popular music often lack such a specific reference to "musical works" such as "Beethoven's 9th"? Why is popular music freer to deviate from notation, as opposed to classical music, which always insists on "adherence to the composer's original score"? Why is "authorship" and "authenticity" valued in both classical and popular music, although in different ways? Does music exist independently of humans and express eternal truths and beauties, or is music inextricably bound up with culture, commerce, society, and the world? How are the three commonly used categories of "composition, performance, and criticism" related, and are the boundaries between them really so clear? How do notation and symbolism affect the way music is constructed and experienced? How do we give meaning to music? Why is it that the "purest" of "pure music", is often surrounded by the most commentary, criticism, and words, those things whose very absense are said to give it its very "purity"? Why does music matter to us? Why do we care? If these questions sound interesting to you, you will like this book.

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