…”The Rest is Noise,” a history of 20th century (mostly) “classical” music by Alex Ross.
I never listen to classical music. I especially never listen to 20th century classical music. In Music 1, I could never identify and keep my ear on a theme. I can never follow a jazz improvisation (and I listen to a lot of jazz). I do not know what it means to “improvise on a chord,” let alone “octonic scale” or “natural harmonic series” or “twelve tone rows” or other terms which pop up regularly in Ross’s prose like stones in my soup. But I regularly read his reviews in “The New Yorker,” because I like his style and mind, so when I saw his book on the remainder table, I thought I might learn something.
It proved a worthwhile purchase. If I couldn’t comprehend Ross’s analysis of the music, I benefited from the history and portraits of composers he put forth. If someone engaged me, I created a “station” on Spotify and listened. Schoenberg got me some woman screaming at me in German, who I wasn’t crazy about, but Morton Feldman was calming and Bang the Can great fun