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Topic: Book on basic music history for high schoolers?

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  1. #1

    Book on basic music history for high schoolers?

    Hi,

    I'm looking to teach my students a very basic history of western 'classical' music, from early music and the renaissance to contemporary stuff.

    Basically what I'm looking to do is 1-2 basic lessons on each era:

    -Major composers of the era (and their major works)
    -Basic musical traits of the era (without going too deeply into theory)
    -Basic "what else was happening in the world at the time"
    -And other *basic* but crucial

    There's no time to give them an in-depth history of music but I'd like them to be able to hear a piece and at least narrow it down to a 100-200 year period, maybe to a handful of likely composers. (If they hear Haydn and say "maybe Mozart?", GREAT, but if they hear Lutoslawski and say "maybe Josquin?" not so great).

    Anyway, can anyone recommend a book or resource that distills this information down to a handful of key points, rather than going into a lot of detail or getting crazy with theory?

    Otherwise I'll just do it myself, but why reinvent the wheel if I don't have to.

    Thanks,
    chris.

  2. #2
    Senior Member rpearl's Avatar
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    Re: Book on basic music history for high schoolers?

    Chris,

    A basic, clear and understandable book is the Machlis and Forney "Enjoyment of Music". I think it is in its 9th edition. The problem is that it is really designed for a year long course - and it sounds like you want to cover 700 years in 8 classes (correct?). I don't know of a quick/easy/concise book; but the Machlis and Forney is very readable, and over the years has been made even easier and more basic. No comment on that...

    Do you have access to a good music library? They might have it, and it would give you an idea of its value.

    Hope that helps.
    Ron Pearl

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  3. #3

    Re: Book on basic music history for high schoolers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpearl
    Chris,

    A basic, clear and understandable book is the Machlis and Forney "Enjoyment of Music". I think it is in its 9th edition. The problem is that it is really designed for a year long course - and it sounds like you want to cover 700 years in 8 classes (correct?). I don't know of a quick/easy/concise book; but the Machlis and Forney is very readable, and over the years has been made even easier and more basic. No comment on that...

    Do you have access to a good music library? They might have it, and it would give you an idea of its value.

    Hope that helps.

    Basically what I have in mind is to have a brief lecture once per week before rehearsal, maybe just a 10-15 minute talk about the selected era. Then each day we would listen to another piece in the beginning of the period and discuss briefly how it fits the era. So it's not so much that I'm looking to do only 8 lessons. It's more like, "music history in 5 minutes a day" a few days per week.

    Thanks for the book suggestion, I'll check it out.

    chris.

  4. #4

    Re: Book on basic music history for high schoolers?

    I would recommend you write it yourself.
    Any book that could be covered in that little time is probably not worth publishing in the first place.
    And besides, we are never so well served as by ourselves.
    I'm certain you could come up with the information you need to put together something that covers the material you want them to know?


    ***EDIT

    hehe, I just realized after posting that I sound like I'm saying "any book you would write is not worth publishing", but that's not what I meant.

    What I meant was, why not simply write the material for your class/group yourself, since any book that was that brief probably doesn't exist.

  5. #5

    Re: Book on basic music history for high schoolers?

    Heheh I understand, no offense taken!

    Yes, I figure I'll have to write the material myself in order to distill it down to the bare essentials. Oh well, I thought maybe there was a resource out there where it's been done already.

    chris.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Re: Book on basic music history for high schoolers?

    Have you looked at the ABCs of Music by Imogen Holst? It is a very elementary primer on harmony, counterpoint and form. The second half of the very short book goes through the history of music. You can pick up a used copy from Amazon for under $5 (I picked up a copy at a used book store for under 5).


    From Amazon:
    An ABC of Music (Oxford Paperback Reference) (Paperback)
    by Imogen Holst (Author), Benjamin Britten (Foreword) "SOUND is everything that we hear : a clock ticking, a door slamming, a dog barking, a car changing gcar on the hill, the wind..." (more)
    Trent P. McDonald

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