- Series: Eastman Studies in Music (Book 82)
- Hardcover: 233 pages
- Publisher: University of Rochester Press (January 30, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1580463460
- ISBN-13: 978-1580463461
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,796,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Looking for the 'Harp' Quartet: An Investigation into Musical Beauty (Eastman Studies in Music) Hardcover – January 30, 2011
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A journey to discover where beauty lives in music. . . . It is rare for schooling to be this blissful. --Kile Smith, composer & radio host
A thoughtful inquiry into the nature of beauty and the aesthetic experience. . . . Will serve not only those interested in exploring the transcendent aesthetic experience, but also those who labor to embody their art through performance. --Choice
A 225-page tour de force. . . . An exercise in academic excellence and a seminal contribution for personal, professional, and academic Classical Music Studies reference collections and supplemental readings lists. MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW Markand Thakar's playful Socratic-like dialogue acts out a kind of performer's odyssey toward the ideal performance, toward making one particular strand of Western classical music all that it can be. --Scott Burnham, Princeton University
About the Author
Markand Thakar is Music Director of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and a member of the graduate conducting faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is an absolute MUST for any non-conformist western classical musician-performer, composer & inquisitive music listener as well. ...It is beyond exceptional!... Not 'easy reading', mind you, but what amazing wisdom!
A disciple himself of the great, & controversial genius S. Celibidache, maestro Thakar clearly shares here insight from musical Phenomenology [dealing with both the perception of beauty in a musical piece & musical interpretation] which before where hard to articulate &/or explain. Concepts that before remained elusive, hard to describe, almost pertaining to the realm of the 'mysterious'... And that, in itself, is an extraordinary feat!. It is as direct as it is plain, as deep as it is blatant, but right there, he shares extraordinary knowledge which is so desperately needed in our times!
It deals with exceptionally important, key concepts concerning the very fundamentals of the music experience, from the listener's, composer's & performer's perspectives... I have studied all over the world for more than 35 years, and found here concepts that I had never heard of before... How is a single line perceived?, what is 'impulse'?, how/where to find the 'climax' of a piece? and how to properly resolve it, in order to allow for a unified, 'connected' expression that, perception-wise, allows for an extremely powerful experience of beauty?... Of course, there are neither easy answers, nor 'formulas' to resolve these questions [HECK, IS ART EVER EASY OR FORMULAIC?]... but what we find here is rather the "learning how to fish" paradigm in contrast with the "fish being given-by our teachers" paradigm, used everywhere in the world..
This work changes my outlook as a classical musician-performer, allowing me a reality that engages not only my technical, expressive, intuitive [right brain] performing side, but also the left--THINKING!--side of my brain to yield a robust, deeply well anchored & hopefully compelling musical interpretation, based on inexorable profoundly valid artistic principles.
I personally took a lesson w/maestro M. Thakar in NYC, in the late 90's, so I consider myself one of his students... In this book I'm finding answers to questions I've been asking for 35 years!
I believe this should be absolutely & obligatory teaching in every single music institution of the world. YES, IT IS THAT GOOD, THAT IMPORTANT, & THAT SIGNIFICANT! ...like I said before, THIS BOOK CHANGES EVERYTHING!
I feel like a "kid in a candy store"! ... GOD BLESS YOU Mtro THAKAR! ...Your masterpiece, our blessing!
This book is about phenomenology. And as a disclaimer I think it's important to say, and I think Thakar is aware of this, that enlarging a phenomenological perception cannot really be done by reading books, (do monks learn to meditate by reading books?) but(!)- reading a book like this one can in the best cases bring to light and make conscious certain perceptions perhaps already unconsciously experienced by readers and spark an interest that will consequentially push the reader to dig deeper after. Thakar shows a remarkable literary skill in the dialogues in the book. The dialogues address questions which in a way have always been on classical musicians' minds but go deeper than I have seen a vast majority of people are willing to go. The dialogues are quite ingeniously constructed: whereas prose would read like dictation from one who is giving unilateral answers, we identify with the forces which animate both the student and the teacher which serve as a tension which pushes the narrative along. They are a much more alive way to transmit certain substance on paper than by prose: we can in the best case live the moments of the student's doubts and revelations when they happen. Very important as well, the dialogues are 'easy' reading in that the means of communication does not obscure the content, which is often the case in academic writing, especially writing about phenomenology. No practical musician in their right mind unless they were totally committed I think would be able or willing to make it through Husserl. I am also quite sure that someone who has not even studied music could be able to orient themselves comfortably in the dialogues. Why? Because the technical knowledge is not the pertinent issue in the book, and therefore when technical aspects are discussed they can be grouped together in a sort of abstraction by an amateur reader who could still follow quite clearly the general narrative. While the articles in the last portion offer something to more advanced and curious intellects, I find the dialogues the real source of a chance to awaken something in other readers and/or musicians.
My only real criticism is that I find Thakar a little too active in fixing certain principles of the aforementioned phenomena, but he has a healthy way of every few pages or so to say that there are no real 'rules' per se. I disagree with him on some details in the final chapters or so, some quite abstract and some more concrete. But that in no way hinders my appreciation or recommendation of his book, not at all.
Now comes the most important part. Remember when books were dangerous? This is one of those books. If this book succeeds in reaching your consciousness, it will have consequences. Many if not all the clichés of classical music will disappear. Some new ones maybe that you didn't perceive before will also appear, under the light of disappearing. This book makes superfluous many commonplace ideas, beliefs, and practices pertaining to classical music in an incredibly bold and concrete way. So the fact that there is another reviewer who says after 35 years of professional life as a musician to say that 'this book changes everything', it's absolutely true. Perhaps a book can communicate more than I would otherwise give credit? My worry is that any book that goes into this kind of subject and that tries to establish the existence of certain phenomena or even principles, that it becomes a dogma or just another aspect of feeding more knowledge to erudite or specialized readers. As Thakar states in the preface this is not an academic treatise. And so the point of this book is not feeding the reader more knowledge, absolutely not, although fine in the last chapters there is a bit of that. The point of this book is perception (and not simply allowing the author's perception as your own, the book is not really written that way, but letting the observations work on your own perception with and without prejudice). However, considering that this is a book and that the content is fixed, it will never be the same as being able to be in a real dialogue, and therefore the possibilities for misunderstandings will always be present. I think Thakar likely found it more important to get the book be published on the chance that a reader does not misunderstand than not publishing it out of fear of possible misunderstandings.
So with my small reservations, I strongly recommend this book to musicians (and music lovers) of all ages, especially to the younger ones who are in such crucial developmental stages in their practices and understanding, and absolutely doubly so to those who think it may be a waste of their time.
Markand Thakar answers the most fundamental question of music: why do we like it?
I do not believe that any musician can truly achieve a high level of performance without knowing their ultimate goal - the true essence of their art.
Many conductors and musicians are fraudulent. This book uncovers the truth behind art, and makes its readers better.
I am a better human being and contributer to society since reading this profound book, and I urge everyone to read it.