The Other Classical Musics

The Other Classical Musics

Fifteen Great Traditions

Edited by Michael Church

Personal eBook

Boydell Press



The Other Classical Musics offers challenging new perspectives on classical music by presenting the history of fifteen parallel traditions.
Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Creative Communication 2015

There is a treasure trove of underappreciated music out there; this book will convince many to explore it. The Economist

What is classical music? This book answers the question in a manner never before attempted, by presenting the history of fifteen parallel traditions, of which Western classical music is just one. Each music is analysed in terms of its modes, scales, and theory; its instruments, forms, and aesthetic goals; its historical development, golden age, and condition today; and the conventions governing its performance. The writers are leading ethnomusicologists, and their approach is based on the belief that music is best understood in the context of the culture which gave rise to it.

By including Mande and Uzbek-Tajik music - plus North American jazz - in addition to the better-known styles of the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, the Far East, and South-East Asia, this book offers challenging new perspectives on the word 'classical'. It shows the extent to which most classical traditions are underpinned by improvisation, and reveals the cognate origins of seemingly unrelated musics; it reflects the multifarious ways in which colonialism, migration, and new technology have affected musical development, and continue to do today. With specialist language kept to a minimum, it's designed to help both students and general readers to appreciate musical traditions which may be unfamiliar to them, and to encounter the reality which lies behind that lazy adjective 'exotic'.

MICHAEL CHURCH has spent much of his career in newspapers as a literary and arts editor; since 2010 he has been the music and opera critic of The Independent. From 1992 to 2005 he reported on traditional musics all over the world for the BBC World Service; in 2004, Topic Records released a CD of his Kazakh field recordings and, in 2007, two further CDs of his recordings in Georgia and Chechnya.

Contributors: Michael Church, Scott DeVeaux, Ivan Hewett, David W. Hughes, Jonathan Katz, Roderic Knight, Frank Kouwenhoven, Robert Labaree, Scott Marcus, Terry E. Miller, Dwight F. Reynolds, Neil Sorrell, Will Sumits, Richard Widdess, Ameneh Youssefzadeh


130 colour, 45 black and white, 24 line illustrations
426 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
Hardback, 9781843837268, October 2015
Personal eBook, 9781782045786, October 2015
Library eBook
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Michael Church
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam - Terry E. Miller
Java - Neil Sorrell
Japan - David Hughes
China - the guqin zither - Frank Kouwenhoven
Chinese opera - Terry E. Miller and Michael Church
North India - Richard Widdess
South India - Jonathan Katz
Mande jaliyaa - Roderic Knight
North American jazz - Scott DeVeaux
Europe - Ivan Hewett
North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean: Andalusian music - Dwight Reynolds
The eastern Arab world - Scott Marcus
Turkey - Robert Labaree
Iran - Ameneh Youssefzadeh
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan - Will Sumits


This book is a clearly written, attractively illustrated and inspirational guide.LITERARY REVIEW

Many (...) illuminating essays in this thought-provoking book CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE

Highly recommended: a great spirit of adventure is enshrined within. CLASSICAL SOURCE

There is a treasure trove of under-appreciated music out there; this book will convince many to explore it. And in fewer than thirty pages it offers as good a summary of the Western canon as can be found anywhere. THE ECONOMIST

(A) fascinating study of 'classical' music from around the globe . . .Beautifully produced and laden with colour images. 4 Stars. BBC MUSIC

Whether discussing gamelan or gagaku, these fifteen essays on music from around the world (gorgeously illustrated with colour photographs and images) never forget that they are telling human stories, rooting unfamiliar sounds, words and ideas in narratives in which we can all find a foothold. THE SPECTATOR

(Michael) Church has orchestrated a truly invaluable volume. Anyone willing to open mind and ears to 'humanity's most sophisticated communal achievements in musical creation' will find a sumptuous treasure-house in this encyclopaedic survey.THE INDEPENDENT

Fascinating. This book is vitally important in broadening our understanding of the term 'classical music'. THE SCOTSMAN