Music Books News (August 2018)

Robin Green

Music Books News (August 2018)

A round-up of new and recent books, featuring Robin Green's Rolling Stone memoir; philosopher Roger Scruton; jazz critic Nate Chinen's 'Playing Changes'; Bernstein memoir; 30th anniversary edition of 'Forces In Motion' on Anthony Braxton; and a new translation of Eduard Hanslick.

Please send information on new music books to editor [at]

The Only Girl – My Life and Times on the Masthead of Rolling Stone
Robin Green
Little Brown, 21 August 2018

In 1971, Robin Green had an interview at the offices of Rolling Stone magazine. She had just moved to Berkeley, California, a city that promised ‘Good Vibes All-a Time’. Green thought she was interviewing for a clerical job – a ‘real job’. Instead, she was hired as a journalist.

In The Only Girl, Green reveals what it was like to be the first woman in an iconic boys’ club, featured on the masthead as contributing editor along with Hunter Thompson, Greil Marcus and more. Pulling back the curtain on Rolling Stone magazine in its prime, The Only Girl is a tribute to a bygone era and a publication that defined a generation.


Music as an Art
Roger Scruton
Bloomsbury Continuum, 23 August 2018

Following the books The Aesthetics of Music and Understanding Music – Philosophy and Interpretation (see Raymond Deane’s review here), among many other titles on philosophy and politics, Roger Scruton returns to music with Music as an Art.

Scruton begins by examining music through a philosophical lens, engaging in discussions about tonality, music and the moral life, music and cognitive science, and German idealism, as well as recalling his struggle to encourage his students to distinguish the qualities of good music. He then explains – via chapters on Schubert, Britten, Rameau, opera and film – how we can develop greater judgement in music, recognising both good taste and bad, establishing musical values, as well as musical pleasures.

Scruton argues that, in earlier times, musical culture had secure foundations in the church, the concert hall and the home; in the ceremonies and celebrations of ordinary life, religion and manners. Yet we no longer live in that world. In Music as an Art, Scruton shows that we live at a critical time for classical music.


Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century
Nate Chinen
Pantheon, 14 August 2018

‘Playing changes’, in jazz parlance, refers to an improviser’s path through a chord progression. In this new book, jazz critic Nate Chinen expands on the idea, highlighting the changes – ideological, technological, theoretical, and practical – that jazz musicians have learned to navigate since the turn of the century.

Chinen traces the influence of commercialized jazz education and reflects on the implications of a globalized jazz ecology; he unpacks the synergies between jazz and postmillennial hip-hop and R&B; and he shows how artists such as Wayne Shorter and Henry Threadgill have moved the aesthetic centre of the music.

Woven throughout the book are explorations of the music of a range of artists, from saxophonists Steve Coleman and Kamasi Washington and pianists Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer to bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding. Playing Changes is a guide to an adaptive new music in a complex new reality.


Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein
Jamie Bernstein
Harper, 12 June 2018

The oldest daughter of composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father on the centennial of his birth.

The composer of On the Town and West Side Story, chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic, television star, humanitarian, friend of the powerful and influential, and the life of every party, Leonard Bernstein was an enormous celebrity during one of the headiest periods of American cultural life. But to his eldest daughter, Jamie, he was the man in the scratchy brown bathrobe who smelled of cigarettes; the jokester and compulsive teacher who enthused about Beethoven and the Beatles; the insomniac whose 4am composing breaks involved spooning baby food out of a jar.

Famous Father Girl is a meditation on a complex and sometimes troubled man, the family he raised, and the music he composed that became the soundtrack to their entwined lives.


Forces In Motion: Anthony Braxton And The Meta-Reality Of Creative Music – Interviews And Tour Notes, England 1985
Graham Lock
Dover Books

This is a reprint of the Da Capo Press 1988 publication, with new material added for the Dover edition.

One of modern music’s major figures, Anthony Braxton has redefined critical concepts of jazz and the wider world of creative music. The Chicago native’s works range from an early piece for 100 tubas to proposed compositions for orchestras on different planets.

Forces In Motion follows Braxton’s quartet on a 1985 tour of England, noting his opinions of his musical predecessors – including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Karlheinz Stockhausen – as well as his thoughts on racism and poverty.

For this new 30th anniversary edition, Graham Lock provides a new chapter, detailing later encounters with Braxton and the quartet, and Braxton has penned a new Afterword.


Eduard Hanslick’s On the Musically Beautiful: A New Translation
Lee Rothfarb and Christoph Landerer
Oxford University Press, USA, 30 August 2018

Eduard Hanslick’s On the Musically Beautiful (Vom Musikalisch-Schönen) was written and published in 1854, before the author turned 30. This is a new translation of the famous treatise on music aesthetics.

Rothfarb and Landerer’s translation includes three introductory essays offering new perspectives on Hanslick, and on the origins, publications and translation history of the treatise, as well as its central concepts and philosophical underpinnings.

The volume also includes annotations, a readers’ guide, a glossary of important terms and concepts, and an appendix, which comprises the original opening of Chapter 1, substantially rewritten in subsequent editions, as well as the original ending of the treatise that was excised by Hanslick in later editions.


Please send information on new music books to editor [at]

Published on 22 August 2018

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