EMBLEMS OF MIND

THE INNER LIFE OF MUSIC AND MATHEMATICS

A thoughtful exploration of the ``deep structure'' similarities between the intellectual graces of music and mathematics. Now chief music critic for the New York Times, Rothstein was trained as a mathematician. He takes as his premise here a congruence between the two fields—music and mathematics—extending far beyond the notion that the conventional western system of tonality derives from certain physical laws that can be expressed in mathematical ratios. Pursuing his intuition that the underlying substance of both disciplines might cast a single unified shadow on the wall of Plato's cave, Rothstein enters into an extended discussion of specific mathematical and musical problems. His examples are sufficiently sophisticated to interest the intellectually adventurous—and to frighten away the casual reader, who will be baffled by the mathematical equations sprinkled throughout. The evident honesty of the author's personal search for the ways in which musical and mathematical descriptions present a common ``emblem of mind'' compensates for his less than scintillating prose style. If there is no real revelation here, there is plenty of lively insight, in particular Rothstein's admirable attempts to find specifics in both mathematics and music to support not only the Keatsian equivalence between beauty and truth, but also his belief that both the beautiful and the true lead to a hitherto unsuspected depth of emotional awareness. The Romantic poets' search for essence beneath the superficial details of experience forms something of a subtext, and the author appropriately compares his own process to Wordsworth's journey to the top of Mount Snowdon in quest of ``the interrelationships between objects in the natural world and the mind of the observer.'' Readers more interested in substance than glamour—and willing to follow their guide through some rocky terrain—will be rewarded.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8129-2298-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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