Kyle Gann. The Arithmetic of Listening: Tuning Theory & History for the Impractical Musician. In addition to being a fascinating composer (e.g. the exuberant microtonal multi-Disklavier opus Hyperchromatica) and a professor of music theory and composition at Bard College, Kyle Gann remains one of the best-known contemporary-music critics, thanks to his writing for the Village Voice[...] Read more

Books Nick Storring

Mark Miller. Of Stars and Strings: A Biography of Sonny Greenwich. In 1945 World War II was over and Herb Greenidge had just returned from his stint overseas, bringing with him a guitar that fascinated his third child. But rather than emulate dad—an accomplished pianist but a mediocre plectrist at best—Herbert Junior pursued a more[...] Read more

Books Alexander Varty Issue 137

Eric Lewis. Intents & Purposes. Are John Coltrane’s out versions of “My Favorite Things” valid representations of the original Rodgers and Hammerstein song from The Sound of Music? What are the similarities and differences between fully scored and freely improvised music? More generally, how best conceive[...] Read more

Books Lawrence Joseph Issue 134

Brian Olewnick. "Keith Rowe: The Room Extended." At some point during the 1960s (the exact date is unclear, but happenings were starting and the Fab Four were still singing “yeah yeah yeah” on their radio hits) a young art-school graduate began to do horrible and wondrous things to a guitar. He took a vow to eschew tuning, for[...] Read more

Books Alexander Varty Issue 131

Punk Ethnography: Artists & Scholars Listen to Sublime Frequencies Last Christmas, our new Syrian friends were telling us about dabke, the Syrian line dance. “Dabke,” I said. “That’s what Omar Souleyman plays!” They laughed out loud and said, “We’d never heard of him in Syria, but now that we’re here, he[...] Read more

Books Daniel Glassman

Bill Dietz. 8 Tutorial Diversions, 2009-2014. Edition Solitude publishes the work of resident artists at Akademie Schloss Solitude, an artist fellowship and residency program in Germany. One of its recent monographs is 8 Tutorial Diversions, 2009-2014 by American-born, Berlin-based artist and composer Bill Dietz. Consisting of eight[...] Read more

Books Christopher Willes Issue 125

Bob Gilmore. Claude Vivier: A Composer’s Life. Both the music and the life of Canadian composer Claude Vivier, who was murdered in Paris in 1983, are fraught with mystery.   Mystery surrounds his birth and death. He never knew his biological parents, and was raised in a foster family. After his violent death, a score was[...] Read more

Books René van Peer Issue 120

David Grubbs. Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties and Sound Recording. An endless stream of recordings flows through the Internet. Listeners rejoice in having easy access to over a century of music, their mood dampened only in contemplation of the terabytes of sound they will never find time to hear. Few, however, have stopped to study how this increased[...] Read more

Books Lawrence Joseph Issue 119

On Listening. Edited by Angus Carlyle and Cathy Lane. On Listening provides a broad cross-disciplinary map of the sound world, through forty short essays, each a brief introduction to an aspect of listening. The essay on underwater sound introduces the field of marine bioacoustics and describes elements of physics that determine the conduct of[...] Read more

Books Gayle Young Issue 119

Bart Plantenga. Yodel in Hi-Fi, From Kitsch Folk to Contemporary Electronica. Yodelling is one of those “always wanted to know but were afraid to ask” topics. While deejaying at the independent New Jersey radio station WFMU, music writer Bart Plantenga stumbled upon a staggering variety of people engaging in yodelling. He discovered that the technique had[...] Read more

Books René van Peer Issue 117

Christof Migone. Sonic Somatic: Performances of the Unsound Body. / Fingering. It comes as no surprise that the first word of Sonic Somatic is “Merdre!” Migone has long been a purveyor of bodily functions, putting out recordings of knuckle-cracks (Crackers, 1999), collected bottles of spit (Spit, 1997–1999), and crassly named music projects (Fingering,[...] Read more

Books Chris Kennedy Issue 116

Daniela Cascella. En Abîme: Listening, Reading, Writing (An archival fiction). Daniela Cascella’s En Abîme is a fascinating consideration of the art of writing about sound—the process of listening and re-listening and responding to what one has heard. The result of a moment of crisis, when Cascella’s ten years of writing seemed to her to carry[...] Read more

Books Chris Kennedy Issue 115