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The History of Musical Instruments [Paperback]

Curt Sachs

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Book Description

Sept. 22 2006 Dover Books on Music
This first comprehensive history of musical instruments, this book ranges from prehistoric times to the 20th century. It traverses five continents and every stage of evolution, from primitive rattles and bull-roarers to the electric organ. Author Curt Sachs, one of the world's most distinguished musicologists, combines rich scholarship with personal insight in a remarkable fusion of music, anthropology, and the fine arts.
Beginning with the earliest manifestations of rhythm, Sachs explores the association of sound with primitive rites of fertility, life, death, and rebirth. He traces the evolution of folk and ritual instruments to tools of entertainment and art, the rise of a professional class of singers and musicians, and the musical revolution that flowered during the Renaissance. Sachs chronicles the foundation of the modern orchestra during the baroque period and its subsequent development, concluding with the modern-day rise of electric and jazz instruments.
A pleasure to read as well as a valuable resource, this classic work is enhanced with 24 plates and 167 illustrations.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (Sept. 22 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486452654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486452654
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.7 x 21.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #367,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive but Aged Sept. 27 2000
By Daniel O. Ludwigsen - Published on
As it is really the first complete work on the history of musical instruments, this is a foundational text. In the sixty years since its publication, though, opinions and interpretations have changed, and better research has been done.
Nonetheless, the very readable style and global scope make this a worthwhile investment. The illustrations are very good for the time it was published. The organization is clearly structured by chronology and geography, yet connections are made across these boundaries. I enjoy the book immensely, both as a reference and for pleasure.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An aged must-read April 19 2005
By Alfredo Sanz Hervas - Published on
This book provides a thorough description of the evolution of musical instruments from a multidisciplinary point of view from prehistoric times to mid-20th century. It comprises most historical epochs and geographical regions.
Good things about the book: it's a classic, very comprehensive (except for the electrophones), very clear in the technical descriptions, nice figures and pictures (although not enough for the many instruments discussed), it's a must-read for people interested in musical instruments and its evolution. I've learned a lot reading the book.
Bad things: it's aged in many respects. The language isn't politically correct when referring to some countries and peoples; it's too European-focused; gives too much importance to several simphonic orchestra instruments in comparison to other very popular instruments (the guitar family and its evolution is poorly treated, for instance); the electrophones are very badly treated and with some contempt. I know this is a 1940/1968 book and the electromechanical and electronic instruments were still in it's infancy, but some were already there (theremin, ondes Martenot, electric guitar, early synths) which would have deserved a much better treatment. Finally, I didn't like the author's remarks about some other people's work. Although he is an acknowledged scholar, sometimes he sounds very petulant.
I also disagree with the author in some technical aspects. For instance, his classification of musical instruments, although universally accepted, has several weak points in my opinion. Many scholars have followed Sachs' terminology too literally; that's why nowdays some people call 'lute' to any stringed instrument with a handle and neglect its original local name. The results is that a Spanish 'bandurria' is a 'lute' as well as a German 'Laute', or a North African 'gnbri'. That is very confussing and wrong.
5.0 out of 5 stars and this is perfect, especially the section on the origins of music July 14 2014
By B. Marold - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I cannot praise this book too highly if your intention is to find material suitable for teaching a class of lay students (not professional musicians). I am reading it for a class I will be giving to kids 8 - 12, and this is perfect, especially the section on the origins of music.

The flip side is that this book may not be suitable for the professional, as it is not festooned with references to scholarly works. However, the "Reference" section does give sources in other books, including some not in English, for research into particular instruments. To be sure, you will need a college library and a good interlibrary loan service to get most of the sources, but they are there.

Highly recommended.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Musical InstrumentsTh Nov. 24 2009
By Joan M. Feit - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is exactly the type of book I was expecting. I received it extremely fast, within one week of ordering. I am overall pleased.

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