It has been a long time since I mentioned the book, but since a pre-release copy turned up on my doorstep yesterday it feels like now might just be the right time to mention it again, especially as the release date is less than a month away. So, ladies and gents, I present to you Music.
As always, I need to mention right away that I co-wrote this book with the wonderful Susan Hayes, whose experience in writing for younger readers was invaluable in turning my dry and rather academic prose into something that might not send the intended readers to sleep. I am happy to relate, though, that the musical side of things was primarily mine and we are all really happy with the final result.
From the beginning of the process the intent was to make the book as inclusive as possible of as many traditions and types of music as we could, especially those that have historically been represented, but that is a tricky thing to do when so much of the written record survives only in certain cultures. We could have gone into depth about the monodic madrigals of, say, Sigismondo d’India (my dodging of that particular doctorate was a fortunate twist in my life) because of the documentation and sources that exist, but doing the same with the music of many other areas in the same period has to be conjecture and guesswork, something we have tried strenuosly to avoid.
In fact, one of what would have been the most interesting entries in the book eventually had to be dropped because, no matter how deep I dug, I simply could not find anything more than hearsay and a couple of unattributed articles which attested to it ever having happened. In these days fake news is not only a disease of current affairs but also often of historical research.
Some very strong captions have also had to be left out for reasons of space, but we do hope that their omission is justified by the number of I-never-knew-that moments that the book might bring. It should cover familiar ground, but if it also treads confidently into new territory then that is even better.