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Music: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #2)

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  348 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 143 pages
Published June 15th 2000 by Oxford University Press (first published April 23rd 1998)
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(showing 1-30)
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Riku Sayuj
Not much discussion on music itself. Most of the time is spent on explaining how perceptions of music has changed since the times of Beethoven, especially in terms of the role of the authority figure in music production, delivery and appreciation. The focus is clearly to advance the author’s own views on how music should be perceived. Which would have been fine of a specialized discussion, but not for a supposedly descriptive work that announces itself as an introduction to music in general, and ...more
Al Bità
May 09, 2013 Al Bità rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This short, immensely readable book was first published in 1998 in the UK and then re-published in 2010 (with some additional material) by Sterling Publishing Company (NY) as part of its “A Brief Insight” series. It provides a fascinating discussion about music as it has developed in the West during the 20th-century.

Most interesting is the line of inquiry taken: our understanding of music in the West stems from what Cook calls the ‘Beethoven Phenomenon’ of the 19th-century which more or less est
Jun 24, 2011 Christopher rated it it was ok
Music is endless. That Oxford University Press thought it could make even the smallest progress towards explaining it in their series A Very Short Introduction initially seems ridiculous. But instead of trying to describe the entire history of human expression through sound, Nicholas Cook's little book focuses on identifying and challenging the preconceptions that Western readers might ascribe to the term "music".

What preconceptions, for example? The distinction between musicians and non-musicia
Mikael Lind
Jul 19, 2012 Mikael Lind rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, music, art
It is important to have one thing in mind before buying/borrowing this book: If you want a book about music that will teach you about notation, scales, chords or sound frequencies, then stay away from this one. This book is about music in context, and also about music and philosophy (and, to my delight, music and language) and whether you actually can listen to music in a context-free fashion at all. There is an unfortunate confusion (albeit kind of small) with the views of the earlier and the l ...more
Bayan Al-Ragheb
Not focusing on music itself ..
The name it self guided me to think about various topics to be discussed about music that I didn't find ..Though I was interested to explore ..

Honestly , for the first time ever , I read almost fourth of the book , skimmed the others , scanned the pictures , and ended the journey with this book ..
I have tried to force my self complete this book , but found it meaningless for me after a while to do that if I am skimming even if it is a very short book..

I may recom
Apr 21, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in learning about music
Recommended to Rachel by: required text for first year musicology
Be kind, this is my first review on goodreads! :-)

Objective Book Rating: 4/5
Personal Rating: 4/5

Book Cover Rating: Considering this is part of a larger series of short introductions by Oxford, I won’t bother rating the cover.

There’s nothing I like more than a book that does exactly what it promises, which, in this case, is provide a very short introduction to music. It was a quick, easy, informative read. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in music, regardless of experience or
M. Ashraf
Jan 23, 2016 M. Ashraf rated it liked it
Shelves: vsi
This is good.
It is more about Classical Music though.
Musicology, practice seeing music from different views and it asks the question is Music - classical - in crisis? and I liked the answer

if there is a crisis in classical music, it is not in the music.

A good short introduction to music.

Side note:
The first thing I remember hearing in my life, was a sound coming out of a baby comb my mother used to brush my hair with; and it was Beethoven's Für Elise, it will always has a special place in my life
Ahmad Sharabiani
Music: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #2), 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.
Jun 10, 2012 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Such a clever little book--Cook goes against tradition to imagine a better way of inviting audiences back to classical usic. This book is not for academics; it's for peope who love music. He may be one of the only writers trying to save the profession (and with a great, dry wit, too).
Mar 20, 2016 Brandt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

There are precursory questions to consider before you decide to read this book. As an example, for what purpose are you reading it? If you are reading this as a comprehensive guide to music, then you will be disappointed. If you are reviewing this expecting to find an underlying realization of grand musical knowledge, then you will be disenchanted. Additionally, if you are perusing this as anything other than a concise, short, frame of reference for thinking about music, you will be unsatisfied.

May 21, 2014 Realini rated it it was ok
Music: A Very Short Introduction by Nicholas Cook

This could be useful. I thought I am in for a very informative, eye opening book. It turns out, I did not like it all that much.
First of all, I am in the process of reading a marvelous book on the history of music, which has inserts with the music mentioned: If it is Mozart the narrator is talking about, we have Eine Kleine Nacht Music, The Magic Flute – as exemplification.
With a Very Short Introduction, there is nothing of that and the scope of t
Grig O'
Dec 14, 2014 Grig O' rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
First of all, as other reviewers have noted, this is not in fact an introduction to music. Can there even be such a thing actually, a written introduction to music?

This question is actually a good starting point for this book, and if your answer is "of course there can be, don't be silly", then you'll probably be disappointed by Cook's little book. If your answer is "don't be pedantic, obviously the first introduction is through sound but we need words to make sense of it" you'll be happy to fin
Lizz D
Có trọn bộ dẫn luận về nhiều chủ đề khác nhau nhưng mình chọn quyển về âm nhạc để đọc trước xem sao. Báo trước là cực kì khó đọc: chủ đề khá là hàn lâm ( có thể gọi là triết học về âm nhạc), lấy ví dụ và bối cảnh từ các tác phẩm cổ điển Mỹ & phương Tây. Cũng không thể trách bản dịch vì chủ đề này vốn đã rất khó dịch và khó hiểu rồi.
Mình chưa đánh giá được hay hay dở vì mới đọc một lần. Mình chỉ mới trả lời được cấu hỏi đầu tiên âm nhạc là gì? Còn rất nhiều điều mình thấy khó hiểu sau khi đọ
May 23, 2011 Lanterfant rated it really liked it
There's some great insights about the social embeddedness of music in this little book. For instance, one learns how rock 'n' roll started as cover versions of black rhythm 'n' blues music by white artists, while the subsequent black rights movement discredited this practice and thus established an ideal of authenticity for the new 'white' rock music -- signifying expression of individuality, freedom, and emotional expression. This ideal of authenticity remains central to our age in the oppositi ...more
Linda Howe
Jul 31, 2013 Linda Howe rated it it was ok
Not as illuminating as I'd hoped. Accessible, but fairly academic in approach. Cook summarizes what's been happening over the past thirty years or so in scholarly thinking about what this "thing" called music is all about. He explores ways various theorists and historians of music are coming to grips with the sudden globalization and diversification of musical cultures. Basic idea: musical meaning is "constructed" in the imaginations of the performer and the listener (as well as the composer) as ...more
Far from being a general overview of music history, this book challenges the reader to think about music from different perspectives. Can we really understand "music" at all, or are we simply privy to a small portion of what is available, seen through the lens of our own experiences? How do we determine what pieces of music (and, by the way, why are they only "pieces"?) enter the canon of "masterworks," largely occupied by male composers throughout history? And is music an agent of change, or do ...more
Jan 29, 2015 Patrick rated it really liked it
Shelves: primers, music
This is the musical essay I always hoped existed and would some day have the chance to read. Book starts by delving right into the collective hang-up of authenticity that is built into our thinking on music. Traces it to Rousseau (who thought the French music was artificial and contrived, whereas italian music was free and natural).

Cook then moves onto Beethoven, showing how much of what we think about music was developed by the writings on and about Beethoven. Great stuff there.

Ends with a tak
Andrew Davis
Dec 12, 2015 Andrew Davis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Started well but lost some steam mid way through. It claims to cover all types of music but has hardly any references to any non-western tradition. When started making claims that Schubert's music was too feminine for him to be considered a true male I had enough.
Glad I bought it a discounted price. You get what you pay for.
The only note made:
In Pythagoras times music was seen as a representation of cosmic harmony. By the eighteen century, it was seen as capable of capturing feelings. It can rev
Daniel Wright
Sep 19, 2015 Daniel Wright rated it really liked it
Shelves: vsi, music
Like a great piece of music, it's difficult to describe exactly why this book is so good. It's not so much about music itself so much as the historical/cultural/social reception of music. But through a wealth of examples, Cook illuminates the importance of how and why we listen to music in intriguing and insightful ways.

Chapter 1: Musical Values
Chapter 2: Back to Beethoven
Chapter 3: A State of Crisis?
Chapter 4: An Imaginary Object
Chapter 5: A Matter of Representation
Chapter 6: Music and the Acad
Evan Roberts
Feb 04, 2014 Evan Roberts rated it liked it
Shelves: music
More sociological than music theory or genre identification this book is very well written. Had to read it as the intro to a uni course. But subscribes to the sexualisation of modern day culture focusing too much on this aspect of reception culture and composers identity namely Beethoven. When presenting history you have a choice of what identity to create by choice picking facts and that's what Cook has served up. But... well written work to inspire uni students.
Goh Jiayin
Jan 10, 2016 Goh Jiayin rated it liked it
This book gives a short introduction on music and how it is being interpreted. It talks briefly on some of the general characteristics of music such as its value, representation, gender and others. Well, it was okay but personally, I do think that music is pretty much universal and not being constricted to as it is. Likewise, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
I don't know why I wanted to read this or what I thought it would tell me. I don't know what exactly it taught me. But I did find it very interesting what Cook chose to cover, like an entire chapter on music and gender, notes on solipsism and critical theory, and debates on what makes the canon. Not the most riveting read, but at times a good one.
May 24, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok
It's not really a short introduction to music at all, but a short introduction to fashions and theories of musical criticism. I found it very disappointing and in trying to be expansive it ends up serving a very, very narrow niche of interest. Shame.
Elias B
Jun 19, 2016 Elias B rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-reading, music
Cook is a master of concision. Perhaps simple really is best? Good introduction for any keen music analyst or enthusiast, though certainly other material will need to be read to really get 'into' what music analysis is about. A very good place to start.
Manu Schon
Apr 27, 2015 Manu Schon rated it really liked it
very readable as an introduction to ethnomusicology thoughts about music.
Jan 20, 2016 Paola rated it liked it
Interessante riflessioni sui significati della musica, sul modo di pensare la musica.
Jun 11, 2013 Clare rated it really liked it
Music: A Very Short Introduction challenges the ways the West traditionally thinks about music, points out its flaws, and expands your mind. Well worth a read.
Aug 10, 2011 Tim added it

January 22 2006
Jul 24, 2016 Bill rated it it was ok
If "Music" had an "ology" attached to it, the title would have been more accurate and I wouldn't have been frustrated by misdirected expectations.
Tom Hoban
Tom Hoban rated it liked it
Apr 12, 2010
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Nicholas Cook is a British musicologist and writer. In 2009 he became the 1684 Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he is a Fellow of Darwin College. Previously, he was professorial research fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he directed the Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM). He has als ...more
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