Dan Sandman

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

37: Oxford by Martin Garrett

In Books, History, Literature, Music, Non-Fiction, Travel on 09/09/2016 at 12:00 pm

oxford-by-martin-garrettThis excellent guidebook is presented as a series of essays on the historic city of Oxford. Each chapter focuses on a different cultural aspect of the city: from its long history to its place in literature; and everything in between. Be prepared for a fair amount of literary quotes and humorous anecdotes, as you dip into this fascinating and insightful book. For example, did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien once drove a whole bunch of undergraduates through town in a stolen bus? Well, now you will.

In a style which is equal parts authoritative and amusing, Martin Garrett guides you with erudition and a perfectly light tone. Rather than presenting a series of facts (i.e. punting in oxford lasts until October) or giving you tips on restaurants and sights of interest, Garrett presents a cultural and an historic guide to Oxford in the manner of the good old-fashioned essay. The result is a relatively recent book (published 2014) which is less likely to date as changes are made to bus timetables and hotels readdress their website URLs. A trusted companion for someone new to city, or a welcome reminder for those who wish to reminisce.

And I am certainly in the second category, having lived in Oxford as a Brookes undergraduate, and shortly after as a bookseller. Oh Oxford! Oh poetry! Oh! Well you get the idea. Anyway, this Tuesday I return to my second home; from the metropolis which was named London many moons ago (and what Tolkien might have had in mind when he created Mordor). It also happens to be my birthday, and a beautiful time of the year for falling leaves and pleasantly mild climes.

Can’t wait to revisit places of old.

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16: The Acoustic Guitar Handbook by Paul Balmer

In Books, Encyclopaedia, Music, Non-Fiction on 15/04/2016 at 12:00 pm

The Acoustic Guitar Handbook by Paul BalmerClassic guitars have nylon strings in the treble and silver wound strings in the bass. These strings produce less tension across the neck, resulting in a simple and elegant design. They are easier for beginners to learn on and for experts to perform on. The three most famous players of classical guitar are Andres Segovia, Julian Bream and John Williams.

Steel strung guitars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I have two types in my collection, a dreadnought and a grand auditorium. They are excellent instruments for singers and songwriters, working well when played with a plectrum or with fingers. The acoustic guitar accompanies the voices of Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton.

This book is a how-to guide for students and teachers alike. Paul Balmer writes about his own acoustic guitars with great knowledge and enthusiasm. As a reference tool, The Acoustic Guitar Handbook is incredibly handy. My one criticism would be that parts of the book are a little bit repetitive.

Recommended by this guitar teacher.

41: The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar by Victor Anand Cohelo

In Books, Music, Non-Fiction on 10/10/2014 at 12:00 pm

The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar by Victor Anand CoheloFist published in 2003, and part of the respected Cambridge companion series, this book presents twelve essays about the guitar. Spread across a wide range of topics, from blues to baroque guitar, the essays celebrate the breadth and variety of the instrument. With great care, Victor Anand Cohelo has compiled a rewarding textbook, to be commended for its diversity.

The work is inclusive, both in its content and its general tone, treating rock guitar and classical guitar with equal esteem. This commendable approach, to an instrument that has often been derided in academic circles, validates guitar history as a subject worthy of study. The book begins with world traditions (flamenco / Celtic / African), moves onto the twentieth century (jazz / roots / rock), and concludes with a part about baroque and classical guitar today. Each essay, appropriately explores the players and instruments behind the music, gives relevant musical examples, and draws on the similarities and differences between the areas covered.

As a guitar teacher and professional musician with a wide interest in music, I appreciate the array of styles and traditions discussed within this indispensable resource. For anyone with a serious interest in the guitar, this excellent companion is bound to provide something new and exciting. Broad yet specific, academic yet accessible, The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar is a must read for any serious guitar student.

I will be referring to it within my teaching.