Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen (Zero Books) Paperback – April 16, 2009
2016 Book Awards
Browse award-winning titles. See all 2016 winners
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
If you’re the author, publisher, or rights holder of this book, let ACX help you produce the audiobook.Learn more.
Top Customer Reviews
It would be interesting to compare your ideas on the question with a thoughtful essay, but this isn't it. Instead, it's mostly made up of a slim and rather useless history of Western music and visual arts since 1900. Here's four pages on Futurism, now here's two pages on Dada, now comes four pages on Varese, now here are my thoughts on Andre Breton and a couple of witticisms on Salvador Dali, here are my thoughts on Free Jazz as it has to do with race in America, here's my grudging nod to the importance of the Beatles, as long as you understand that I'm far too hip for the Beatles, and then the next couple of pages on something else, and a paragraph on something else, and on and on.
Each of these topics is treated with cliches and glib opinions. For example, he gives two paragraphs to Minimalism in the visual arts, blithely dismissing it as "the great, ironic conceit of the rich--the pretense of a lack of possessions...the signifier in music as well as in art of capitalism's pretensions to spirituality, rather than its lack of it." It's such an inadequate and stupid response, accentuated for me by the fact that I'm simultaneously reading Minimalism:Origins by Edward Strickland, a genuine effort to understand the impulses that led to various forms of minimalism in the visual arts and in music.Read more ›
To wit [p. 19]:
"The departure from tonality in Cubism and Schoenberg represents the birth of visual and musical modernity. It arose from their two chosen art forms breaking down, in some ominous parallel with civilisation as a whole, under the rules of their own continued 'growth and development'."
Did you have to read that one twice to parse even a grain of meaning from it? Well, the entire book reads in the style of an off-the-cuff undergraduate journalism assignment. Almost every statement in this book comes off as mildly derisive and derogatory, but with no cohesive point-of-view. The only thing I can tell is that I think he likes Stockhausen.
Let me also mention for those of you who are wondering just who would publish this book, the answer is Zero Books, and the name couldn't be more fitting. This book is plagued by some of the most heinous errors in spelling and grammar that I have ever come across in professionally printed material. The coup de grace, however, are the many typesetting errors which insert paragraph indentations in the middle of sentences. Perhaps the work of a malicious editorial staff who were fed up at having to read this garbage.
And in all honesty he's right, more of us probably do "get" more out of Rothko's works, than those of Karlheinz Stockhausen. But would it still be true if the comparison was with Mark Tobey rather than Mark Rothko? Or if Rothko was compared with Gavin Bryars? It's the broader assertion, that modern and post-modern art has greater acceptance than experimental music of a similar period that I, and others, would dispute. There is also the implication -- which in fairness is inferred not stated -- that in the broadest sense the visual arts are held in higher public regard than music. I'd assert this is empirically not true. A decent music blog will have no shortage of hits but a similar quality art site generates tumbleweed. Also how many millionaire visual artists as opposed to musicians has our culture created in the past half century? Is it any easier for a painter or potter to make a name for himself, or even a living, than it is for a musician?Read more ›