Capturing Music by Thomas Forrest Kelly

 

Capturing Music is an “entertaining history of how musicians learned to record music for all time, filled with art that sings.” This is the story of music notation, complete with musical examples, vivid, full-color illustrations, and a CD of accompanying music performed by esteemed early music vocal ensemble Blue Heron.

I love how Kelly connects a human reason to each development in notation. These changes were (and are) not the result of scholars with nothing better to do, thinking up ways to make things more difficult. This was brilliant problem-solving that met very real needs of a living, breathing language as it evolved and became more complex over time.

Serious musicians who enjoy theory and history will especially enjoy this read. Kelly has an engaging, impressively succinct writing style. But Capturing Music isn’t pop history; the content is quite academic and meticulously researched. It gets pretty technical, especially in the latter half of the book, so readers will probably want to be already interested in the topic going in. I think a working knowledge of music theory (even if basic) is essential as well.

I enjoyed hearing Kelly talk about his book in his own words:

Do you read academic titles related to your profession, just for the fun that comes with learning new things? Give me an example of a book you enjoyed!