A History of Music in Western Civilization

This audiobook isn’t a book.  It is, in fact, a compilation of recorded lectures and discussions from a number of musical scholars.  The recordings are quite dated, as evidenced by a remark about how the LP album had at that time enjoyed ten years of dominance over the 45 RPM single.  It doesn’t make any of the information or opinions presented here irrelevant, but it certainly puts a smile on my face for a variety of reasons.

The topics of discussion range from the Middle Ages through the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, and well into the 20th century to include jazz, blues, and rock, mostly to illustrate how those traditions are being lent to modern classical traditions.  One lecture even spotlighting percussion going back to the Neolithic times, and another focuses on Reggae and Calypso.  Each of the presentations are enlightening and dig deep in their own ways, using recorded music examples to make their cases.  That’s always a plus to have the audiobook format really used to its fullest potential.

The breadth of the subject matter is such that there is so much more to discuss.  That’s probably the biggest weakness here.  There is so much left untouched that this practically demands a series to really exploit the format and topic possibilities, and the age of the material presented means there’s plenty of room for updating and modern perspectives.  Even so, for what it is, I found this to be quite illuminating.  Definitely worth the listen.

4 stars


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