THE LIVING VIOLIN by Barrie Carson Turner


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An interactive book-and-CD that purports to provide readers with an opportunity to hear what they're reading about, in this case, violins--but there's a catch. The book stands alone as a satisfactory introduction to one of the most popular instruments of the orchestra. It opens with a short history of the violin and introduces readers to other members of the string family. There are excellent explanations, with detailed full-color photographs of how a violin is constructed, its parts, and playing techniques. Less effective is a section giving sketchy information on string instruments from around the world: Small pictures are included of familiar instruments (banjo, harp) while lesser-known instruments--the pipa of China, the valiha from Madagascar--are not shown. Turner competently introduces some of the best-known composers for strings, including Mozart and Beethoven. CD pieces are described in a few sentences as an adjunct to the main text, but they often differ from the pieces the text raves about. One paragraph in four about Tchaikovsky is dedicated to his Serenade for Strings, yet the piece on the CD is M‚lodie. It turns a promising media package into a promotional vehicle for EMI, the recording company that is the subject of high praise in the back matter, instead of a cohesive pairing of text and CD.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1996
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Knopf