The Book of Musical Documents

The Book of Musical Documents

The Book of Musical Documents

The Book of Musical Documents

Excerpt

Music is one of man's most sensitive means of expression. It reflects his thoughts and emotions to a surprising degree and from time immemorial has been intimately connected with his inner and outer life. Just how music sounded in former days is largely guess work. Until the invention of the phonograph it was impossible to record sound and, though music was noted down, we do not know exactly how it was performed or imagined by composers. The written word, on the. other hand, is not so dependent on performance. Prose, as the Bourgeois Gentilhomme discovered, is spoken by everyone and language is less subject to personal interpretation than notation. Words are used as a medium to explain the whys and wherefores of society and are a vehicle by which man expresses his views about life as well as about music. A great deal has been written concerning music and most people have not been shy in praising or condemning it according to their likes and dislikes, temperament or training. Neither the art nor the science of sound have had a peaceful evolution. Innovations have been attacked and jealousies between composers and performers have been frequent.

Now we can enjoy music without understanding a great deal about it, but the more one knows about a field the more pleasure one derives from it. Reading about music, therefore, is a legitimate way of increasing one's knowledge.

Paul Nettl Book of Musical Documents shows what an extraordinary range the field covers. The author has chosen examples primarily from original sources. Musicians tell us of their hopes and fears, the shortcomings of their contemporaries or the power of music. We learn a good deal about the economic side of the art and find that theory and practice are frequently far apart.

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