12 Most Interesting Music Books of 2021

The end of a year is usually the best time to evaluate results of the previous twelve months in many fields and areas. Here are twelve books that, for me, represent the best and/or the most interesting, what has been published on topics related to music.

1. The Spirit of Music – Victor L. Wooten

The award winning bass-player Victor Wooten starts his book with a serious of scary questions: ‘Could Music as a whole ever be threatened? Could Music get sick, die, or, even worse, be killed? Could we wake one morning to find Music removed entirely from our existence?’ 

Even scarier is his affirmative response ‘Mother Music is dying.’ 

This book is a powerfull allegory – a ficticious story about how the live music can save the spirit of music, that has been threatened by Phasers and their “music-cancelling” headphones. 

2. The Musical Human – Michael Spitzer

History of the human musicality from the very beginning of the human life, human civilization and the evolution. In spite of some factual irregularities, it is an interesting reading. Also an important summary of our current knowledge of the topic, while new discoveries in the music archeology, palaeontology, and anthropology, make some author’s claims potentially obsolete.

3. Decoding Despacito – An Oral History of Latin Music – Leila Cobo

If you wanted to know, how such songs as Feliz Navidad, Macarena, Suavemente, Bailando, and others came to existence, this is the book where you can find it out. From José Feliciano, through Julio and Enrique Iglesias, Luis Fonsi, and many others, who helped to break barriers and bring Spanish language songs into the international market.

4. Two Beats Ahead – What Musical Minds Teach Us About Innovation – Panos Panay and Michael Hendrix

What do have business in common with music? This book reveals some of possibilities, especially what innovation concerns.

Panay – the founder of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, and Hendrix – the Global Design Director at design and innovation consultancy IDEO, combined here their knowledge to tackle this interesting topic.

5. How Music Works – A Physical Culture Theory – Rolf Bader

“This book is about how music, and therefore, how art and culture work: as a self-organizing system. … Self-organizing systems are more than ‘dead matter’, they are living.”

The Physical Culture Theory proposes that consciousness content, what we think, hear, feel, or see is also just this: spatio-temporal electric fields. Music is a perfect candidate to elaborate on such a Physical Culture Theory. Music is all three, musical instrument acoustics, music psychology, and music ethnology. 

6. Community Music At The Boundaries – Lee Willingham

This book explores music and music-making on the edges of the traditional society – indigenous communities, health & wellness, education, and other cultural identities.

Roger Mantie writes in the foreword, that its aim is to “help bring into existence a “counter-narrative” to the hegemony of the Western European art music canon and all that it represents.”

7. Saved By A Song – Mary Gauthier

This is a story of Mary Gauthier, one of the best songwriters of her generation, who managed to avoid destroying her life thanks to music.

8. The Music Advantage – How Music Helps Your Child Develop, Learn, and Thrive – Anita Collins & The Musical Child – using the power of music to raise children who are happy, healthy and whole – Joan Koenig

These are two books on a very similar topic. I have decided to include both of them as I like both, while each approaches the topic of the importance of music for children from a slightly different angle.

This one takes more scientific perspective and covers a whole span of childhood years.

Dr. Collins shows in the book, how playing an instrument can improve language abilities, social skills, concentration, impulse control, emotional development, working memory, and planning and strategy competence, from infancy through adolescence.

More practical approach from a life-time practitioner, focusing on the first six years of childhood.

Joan Koenig draws from her experience from the famed L’Ecole Koenig in Paris, France, and shares stories from her classrooms, along with tips about how to use the latest research during the critical years when children are most sensitive to musical exposure—and most receptive to its benefits.

9. Routledge International Handbook of Music Psychology in Education and the Community – Andrea Creech, Donald Hodges 

Importance of music through life and in a community.

Based on multidisciplinary research from different cultures and contexts, this book provides an evidence-based account of psychological perspectives on issues in music education and music in the community through the life course.

10. Healing Power of Singing – Emm Gryner

How to improve your voice, your singing – and through it, also your life.

From an award-winning recording artist Emm Gryner, this book is part study in the art of singing, part guide to finding one’s voice, and part memoir.

11. Virtual Music – Sound, Music, and Image in the Digital Era – Shara Rambarran

Music has been changed by virtuality and digital technology. This book explores relationship between music, sound and image, from the historical, technological, and creative perspectives.

12. Beyond the Creative Species – Making Machines That Make Art and Music – Oliver Bown

Computational creativity and its impact on art and music.

“This book is about the practice, the technology, and the deeper implications of the automation of creative tasks in artistic domains.”

Title photo by Stas Knop from Pexels

Comments are closed.