Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Rest Is Noise

The desire to strive for authenticity and fight against the generic has always been present in music. While it may not always be at the forefront, it is always an element that is present—strived for by the artists trying to make music that has a broad impact. This impact could be social or musically challenging or both.

In his book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening To The Twentieth Century, Alex Ross has created a very compelling musical history. One of the major themes carried through the book is this aforementioned struggle against the generic and toward the authentic.

It is amazing to read about the debuts of symphonies that caused fistfights between audience members who disagreed about the piece they had listened to. Another very fascinating element of the book is it s discussion about how music has been used, some might fairly argue appropriated by political figures. This certainly resonates today with the myriad politicians running for president who all have their various theme songs.

Beginning in the early 1900s with Strauss and Mahler, this book leads all the way through jazz to the modern/contemporary with discussions of the Velvet Underground, Bjork and Radiohead. Given its breadth and fascinating content, I can’t recommend this book enough.


twitchy said...

Well, and the fact that it was given to you by your lovely wife :o)

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