The Wire

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In Writing

The Great Reading List

March 2019

A reading list of over 20 music books intended to teach or educate, compiled by Wire staff to accompany The Great Learning special issue

The Wire 422 includes over 22 pages of notes and essays by musicians, artists and Wire critics mapping the unseen network of peers, mentors, institutions and gurus that support and set the agenda for the world of underground sound. This is an extended version of a supporting reading list of books about music and the transfer of knowledge, originally printed in the April 2019 issue of the magazine.

The Art Of Conduction: A Conduction Workbook
Lawrence D ‘Butch’ Morris
Lexicon of hand-signals for conducted improvisation

Composing With Tape Recorders: Musique Concrète For Beginners
Terence Dwyer
(Oxford University Press)
The beginner’s guide to cut and splice, endorsed by Chris Watson, Surgeon, Storm Bugs, and more

Circuit-Bending: Build Your Own Alien Instruments
Reed Ghazala
(John Wiley & Sons)
DIY electronics projects by the sound artist and ‘father of circuit-bending’

Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice
Pauline Oliveros
Essays, projects and exercises to improve and deepen the experience of listening

The Fluxus Performance Workbook
Ken Friedman, Owen Smith & Lauren Sawchyn (Editors)
(Performance Research)
Anthology of performance art and event pieces by Fluxus artists including Yoko Ono, Takehisa Kosugi and Alison Knowles

Folksongs Of North America
Alan Lomax
Over 300 songs from Lomax’s travels around the US, with arrangements by Mátyás Seiber and Peggy Seeger

Handmade Electronic Music
Nicolas Collins
The hacker’s bible for electronic musicians

Harmony With LEGO Bricks: A New Approach To The Use Of Harmony In Jazz Improvisation
Conrad Cork
(Tadley Ewing)
Harmony for improvisors, as recommended by Evan Parker

Improvisation: Its Nature And Practice In Music
Derek Bailey
The guitarist’s landmark survey of musical improvisation from flamenco to free music

Jam! The Story Of Jazz
Jeanne Lee
Jazz history and theory for school children by the great African-American vocalist, improvisor, composer and educator

The Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organisation
George Russell
US pianist and composer’s groundbreaking system of harmony that paved the way for modal jazz

Nature Study Notes: Improvisation Rites
The Scratch Orchestra
(Public domain)
A collection of short text pieces that “may establish a community of feeling, or a communal starting point, through ritual”

Of Technique: Chance Procedures On Turntable
Maria Chavez
The New York sound artist’s how-to guide to experimental turntable techniques

On The Sensations Of Tone As A Physiological Basis For The Theory Of Music
Hermann von Helmholtz
19th century treatise on acoustics, as cited by Harry Partch, Sunny Murray, AtomTM, Charlemagne Palestine, and more

Search And Reflect
John Stevens
A handbook of exercises, pieces and games for music workshops including “Click Piece” and “Sustain Piece”

The Technique Of My Musical Language
Olivier Messiaen
(United Music Publishing)
The theories behind the composer’s music, including the influence of Indian ragas, plainchant and birdsong

Wild Soundscapes: Discovering The Voice Of The Natural World
Bernie Krause
The art, science and ethics of field recording

Audible Design: A Plain And Easy Introduction To Practical Sound Composition
Trevor Wishart
(Orpheus The Pantomime)
A UK pioneer’s practical guide to composing with sound and electroacoustic techniques

Women’s Work
Alison Knowles & Annea Lockwood
Collection of text and graphic scores by women artists and composers including Mieko Shiomi, Simone Forti and Christina Kubisch

The Crystal Spring: English Folk Songs Collected By Cecil Sharp
Maud Karpeles (Editor)
Sharp's long term assistant selects 143 various folk songs from the collector's archive

33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History Of Protest Songs
Dorian Lynskey
(Faber & Faber)
A useful teaching aid to introduce the political power and social context of music

The Manual: How To Have A Number One Hit The Easy Way
Jimmy Cauty & Bill Drummond
(KLF Publications)
The KLF share their insider knowledge of the reality behind the pop industry

Free Jazz In Japan: A Personal History
Teruto Soejima
(Public Bath Press)
Tracking the music’s pulse from Masayuki Takayanagi, Motoharu Yoshizawa, Akira Sakata and more, to Tsugaru shamisen, Korean improv and absurdist theatre happenings

Repository Of Scales And Melodic Patterns
Yusef Lateef
(Jamey Aebersold Jazz)
Patterns For Improvisation
Oliver Nelson
(Jamey Aebersold Jazz)
Scales, harmonies and melodic lines for improvisors as elucidated by two great African-American saxophonists-composers-educators

The Great Learning special issue is out now. Subscribers can read the magazine in full online via Exact Editions

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