MUSIC OF THE WHOLE EARTH by David Reck

MUSIC OF THE WHOLE EARTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Reck has absorbed the musical paraphernalia, if not the musical essence, of dozens of civilizations, and spreads that wealth of international detail through chapters on instruments, melody, rhythm, harmony, ensembles, and forms. The result is a miscellany-textbook-sermon that tells you how to build your own ""kounterkulture koto"" (it's a board zither), catalogues drum-tuning methods, brackets King Oliver's troupe with the T'ang dynasty's 500-piece combo, and supplies a momentby-moment rundown on Navaho purberty rites. Such vastness of scope commands a certain respect and inevitably turns up irresistible trivia: ""In 17th century Denmark and Germany, no one below the rank of a baron was allowed to own a kettledrum unless he had taken it into battle."" But Reck wants to do more than gather and group. He wants to introduce visual, grid-coordinated notation to help non-musicians understand musical complexities; it only reaffirms the impossibility of visualizing sound and embarrasses a lot of graph paper. He wants to wave the banner of cultural internationalism and, in the process, permits an energetic prose style to lapse into cheerleading (""old Mother Earth herself!"") or pretentiousness (""our ones become hybrid alones""). And, alas, he wants to flood us with his own artsily artless diagrams, some of which Peter Schickele could lift for P. D. Q. Bach comedy and some of which (a page of lute shapes, for instance) deprive us of expected beauty. Oversized photos and sumptuous bibliographies demand inspection, and an orgy of browsing awaits Asiaphiles, but only Reck's fellow ""ethnomusicologists"" will embrace the whole of this Whole-Earth gargantua.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Scribners