The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments

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9780028646671: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments
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Designed to describe in words and pictures the nature and capabilities of all the families of musical instruments, this handsome volume ranges from very early drums and horns to modern electronic instruments. Dearling is a writer on classical music and its performance, and he has enlisted the aid of other music scholars, primarily British, to help him with this task. Beginning with "How Music Began" and continuing on through the families of instruments, usual and uncommon, Dearling provides text, illustrations, and boxes with facts that enhance the basic information. For example, four pages discuss the oboe; there are five illustrations, text on "Construction," "The Modern Oboe," and "In Performance," and two boxes, one for "Types of Oboe" (four are described) and one for "The Oboe's Uses in the Orchestra" that mentions three specific compositions. Beyond the usual families of instruments, chapters include "Ensembles" and "Non-Western and Obsolete Instruments."

While looking very much like a coffee-table book, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments provides a great deal of information. Its illustrations include both reproductions of early paintings and photographs of modern performers as well as drawings of individual and families of instruments. Of course, the three-volume New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (1984) and the Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments (1992) provide more scholarly, detailed text in a straight alphabetical arrangement and they include some illustrations, but the colorful illustrations here and the informality of the arrangement provide a context for understanding broader meanings. The CD-ROM Microsoft Musical Instruments has the additional feature of audio clips for the 200 instruments it covers.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments will be helpful to beginning music students and to more advanced scholars; it can serve to whet the appetite of persons to learn more about all types of music. It will be a good purchase for high-school, academic, and public libraries.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 8 Up. This attractive volume combines in-depth coverage of primarily Western musical instruments with the elaborate design of a coffee-table book. Thematically rather than alphabetically arranged, it surveys the evolution of music-making, covering prehistoric to modern instruments, as well as composers, performers, conductors, and ensembles. Introductory essays that speculate on the origins of music and discuss its evolving role in society are followed by chapters on the major instrument families; in-depth information about specific instruments includes their history and evolution, structure and design, creators and/or famous makers, role in ensembles, and terminology. Each section concludes with brief descriptions of "rare" or "miscellaneous" instruments, such as the viola bastarda, the thunder sheet, and the typewriter. Electronic instruments are covered, as well as over 200 "Non-Western and Obsolete Instruments"?the ocarina, didgeridoo, sitar, sansa, gamelan orchestra, steel drum, and yamstick. Colorful sidebars and fact boxes also supply substantive information. The book contains over 300 black-and-white and color illustrations, as well as images of instruments in art. The narrative structure and thematic arrangement make this volume less useful for ready reference than Michael Hurd's Oxford Junior Companion to Music (Oxford Univ., 1980; o.p.), which has an A-Z format, a broader scope, and is aimed at a younger audience. However, the table of contents and the detailed index in the Illustrated Encyclopedia provide access to comprehensive information on individual instruments.?Lauren Mayer, New York Public Library
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Published by MacMillan Publishing Company. (1996)
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