Accompanies BBC2's major new TV series and The Story of Music in 50 Pieces on Radio 3Music is an intrinsic part of everyday life, and yet the history of its development from single notes to multi-layered orchestration can seem bewilderingly specialised and complex.
In his dynamic tour through 40,000 years of music, from prehistoric instruments to modern-day pop, Howard Goodall does away with stuffy biographies, unhelpful labels and tired terminology. Instead he leads us through the story of music as it happened, idea by idea, so that each musical innovation – harmony, notation, sung theatre, the orchestra, dance music, recording, broadcasting – strikes us with its original force.
He focuses on what changed when and why, picking out the discoveries that revolutionised man-made sound and bringing to life musical visionaries from the little-known Pérotin to the colossus of Wagner. Along the way, he also gives refreshingly clear descriptions of what music is and how it works: what scales are all about, why some chords sound discordant and what all post-war pop songs have in common.
The story of music is the story of our urge to invent, connect, rebel – and entertain. Howard Goodall’s beautifully clear and compelling account is both a hymn to human endeavour and a groundbreaking map of our musical journey.
©2013 Howard Goodall (P)2013 Random House AudioGo
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Since this was a book about music and it was an audio copy, AND a tv series exists, the book should have been illustrated with musical excerpts. How can one relate to theoretical information about the structure and development of music, without auditory examples? Very, very disappointing.
"Exactly the book I wanted to hear"
I'm musical challenged in so many ways having just start to learn my first musical instrument in my 45th year. I decided I would like to catch up on why music is so embedded in our lives and I searched for 'the history of music' and got 'the story of music'. I found the book interesting from start to finish and I've made multiple notes of other books and biographies I will follow it up with. I listened to it with spotify open and as I needed to reference a piece of music I just added it to a playlist. Well written and at a decent pace throughout.
"Good book, shame about the lack of music."
Howard Goodall's take on the history of music is fascinating and his descriptions of historical music engaging.
The book helped me consolidate my interest piqued by Howard Goodall's TV series of the same name.
The narration was fine, but I was disappointed to have no music within the audiobook. Having seen the TV series by the same name, I thought there would be music. Remembering or imagining music while reading this audiobook wasn't useful for me.
I would have paid more for an audiobook with all the music tracks included. I appreciate that the licencing costs for the music might be considered prohibitive, but I would have liked to have had the choice.
I loved the BBC series, so was excited to find it on Audiobook. I was desperately disappointed to find that there was no music excerpts to illustrate the excellent narrative. I know you would not find this with the written book, but here it just feels wrong. It almost makes it unlistenable, as you hear a point made about a particular piece or moment in musical development, and are waiting for the music to illustrate it, as happens in the TV series. Such a shame, as this is the perfect media to do this.
"Brilliant, thoroughly researched & well-presented!"
This is a truly outstanding audiobook eloquently read by the author himself. Mr. Goodall's passion and expertise in the subject matter shines through.
It is packed full of fascinating anecdotes, gem facts and details that reveal themselves on each listen. The content is diverse, broad in scope and many controversial subjects (such as sinister and political backstories) are boldly tackled head-on.
Check out Spotify for helpful playlists [filed as HGSOM] of key music and songs mentioned in the text. If you are like me, you'll probably want to research topics covered in more detail; in which case I highly recommend purchasing the superbly written book of the same title, which contains key illustrations, available also digitally for Kindle.
I would wholeheartedly recommended this audiobook for anyone with a keen interest in music history and development and consider this a 'must read' for composers, musicians and anyone who appreciates music, irrespective of knowledge and experience.
"Marred by political correctness"
This is a decent-enough history of (mainly) classical music that broadens out a bit to encompass popular musical styles in the last couple of centuries. Two things mar it.
First, there is no music. An audio book is, of course, the ideal medium for going beyond the purely textual content of the printed page. That opportunity is missed, however.
Second, he displays a typically BBC form of political correctness. Nationalism is bashed; multiculturalism and immigration are praised. He holds 20th century America, and the triumph of its popular music, up as proof of this claim.
It's questionable, however, whether anything in the canon of popular music has reached the heights of Beethoven or Bach. Nationalism inspired many of the great classical composers, including Verdi, Wagner, Sibelius, Nielsen and many others.
The bien-pensant pro-immigration lecture is profoundly unwelcome and unnecessary in this type of book.
"it would be perfect if only it had links to music"
I did try but it would be so much better if there was actual music to accompany the book and the listening
The detail and pure extent and knowledge of the subject matter
A pleasant voice to listen to; and end excellent knowledge of the material.
A very interesting and surprisingly witty and entertaining audio book, easily as good as the television version.
"outstanding and original"
Fantastic and insightful view of music development throughout the ages. At times controversial, always compelling.
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