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Arcana: Musicians on Music Paperback – January 2, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Granary Books (January 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188712327X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887123273
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Zorn is a central figure in New York's music community. Instrumental in developing venues for experimental music such as The Knitting Factory and Tonic, Zorn is a composer and performer credited with having widely expanded the audience for challenging, free-form music. His projects range from his own musical outfits, Masada, Cobra, and Naked City among others, to composing a piece for the New York Philharmonic and producing a Burt Bacharach tribute album.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael Sean on March 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
As John Zorn outlines in his introduction to the book, he assembled this project as a reaction to the lack of insightful critical writing about the generation of adventurous musicians he is a part of. This group of artists and their work is not easily defined, although critics have tried applying ambiguous terms like 'comprovisation,' 'postmodernism,' and 'totalism." Anyone familiar with the output of record labels like Tzadik, Avant, Atavistic, and Knitting Factory will recognize several names among the contributors. Unlike the usual music essay which dissects an artist's recordings, most of these are very informal and intriguing peeks into the thought processes and compositional practices of the musicians themselves. Bill Frisell provides an approach to guitar fingering, Marc Ribot talks about earplugs, Ikue Mori discusses how she works with drum machines, and Bob Ostertag details how he adapted the sounds of a queer riot for string quartet. There's a discussion on plunderphonics with John Oswald, an overview from Elliott Sharp on his group Carbon, and David Mahler expounds his responses to a set of nine questions posed by Pauline Oliveros. The writings range from brief 2 or 3 page entries (Mike Patton's "How We Eat Our Young," Marilyn Crispell's "Elements of Improvisation") to long and elaborate essays (Scott Johnson's "Counterpoint," David Rosenboom's "Propositional Music"). Some of the contributions are more unusual, such as Zorn's "Treatment for a Film in Fifteen Scenes," Fred Frith's notebook extracts, or Peter Garland's journal of his trip to Australia's Northern Territory. All of them provide for inspiring and thought-provoking reading, making this an invaluable book for both fans of these artists and aspiring musicians of the avant garde. An appendix of brief bios for each artist ends the book, along with short lists of recommended listenings.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William Wood on January 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
Arcana is a book that you will go back to again and again.Whether it is to look at Fred Friths notes on composing and playing ( great fun for Frithophiles deciphering the music involved)or the fingering techniques of Bill Frissel this is a book that inspires the act of making music.All of the contributors have uncovered some real gems and John Zorn has done a great job editing this book.
This is not a how to book by any means, in fact Arcana offers far more than that.This is a what if book, a glimpse rather than a map.
If you are a musician I feel you will find lots of things in this book to inspire, and for music fans we have a history of sorts that I am sure will enrich your listening pleasure.
Highly reccomended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This collection of essays, notes, scores and proclamations of artistic vision serves as an amazing "manifesto" for the Downtown New York improvised/avant music scene. Edited by Maven John Zorn, the text features contributions from guitarist Bill Frisell and trombonist George Lewis (both of whom, along with Zorn, released the wonderful "News for Lulu" LPs in the late 80's and early 90's) among others. A definite must-have for a fan of this scene, free/avant Jazz, or music in general.
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16 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Levi on April 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book, with brilliant music contributors like Marc Ribot, Fred Frith, Mike Patton, Bill Frisell, and many others (mostly Tzadik/John Zorn related musicians) - a must read for the contemporary musician/composer, and for those who listen to and appreciate the music of John Zorn.
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6 of 20 people found the following review helpful By scarecrow VINE VOICE on September 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
largely this is a oblique promo book for Zorn & Company,and other CD labels Tzadik,Hat Art, RecRec, Avant,Atavista etc., as already noted in other reviews, well the avant-garde gotta survive, some do and some don't.
Some are erased from history,
Most of the contributors here play outta The NYC Big Apple,anyway,although writers were selected from all over.It'll be interesting now to see how the cultural scene in NYC develops in light of the World Trade Bombings,especially the free improvisors.
Zorn's a good editor,however, and books like this bring a sense of solidarity in what remains a asymmetrical culture, with no one knowing what each other does and responds to. The musical world is notorious for this social/cultural fragmentation.
I suppose George Lewis,who doesn't now live in Chicago represents the Midwest since his long time,'lontano' long ago association as a kid with Chicago's own AACM. Well that don't cut it.There are other in Chicago who contribute greatly to the scene as the CUBE Ensemble,and Chicago free improvisors. I guess we should get our own promo book.
Garland,Ochs,Rosenboom represents the West Coast, Yeah I guess!<I'm just waxin negative, but there's some useful stufffff here; as Francis Marie Uitti's sketches on double stops for the violoncello possibilities,not much,how bout Franny tell us about the difficultuies in playing Cage or Scelsi,it's stuffff like that, where you learn, wish there was more of this,
Bill Frisell offered renderings on different guitar fingerings was useful, although quite brief,like something he wrote on the bus on the way to the Gig.
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