Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Seb Hunter - Rock Me Amadeus: When Ignorance Meets High Art, Things Can Get Messy (2006)

Blimey, it's been a while, hasn't it?! In explanation for my prolonged absence, I'd like to offer up something that should resonate with every music-loving reader of this blog(which will be most of you).

Perusing my local library one day (as is my wont) I came across that book on the left. Its bumpf advised that it was a journey of discovery by a rock fan into classical music. Now, as classical music has always been very much a closed book to me (way too much wailing and shrieking and incidental music), I thought I'd give it a go. Little did I know I was unleashing a monster.

Hunter tells us that, like me, he has never had any time for the classical genre but, being a chap who doesn't like to have a closed mind about these things, he decided to immerse himself and try to learn to love it. With that (and taking advice along the way) he starts at "the beginning" of music as we know it and works his way forward.

A travelogue of the highest order, Hunter's book is a great introduction to this most impenetrable of genres. He doesn't hesitate to take the piss where he thinks it's due and makes recommendations along the way, managing to find a modern comparison to most of the music he's listening to. Nick Hornby/anal-type that I am, I found myself compiling a list of potential downloads within the first 20 pages! Finding some of this stuff has been a trial because most of the classical music blogs are elusive and make no concession to modern music. There is no TotallyFuzzy for the classics so Google has been a boon!

Which brings us neatly back to my absence. I've spent the last month or so finding and listening (although not exclusively, as Hunter does) to classical music and I've made some astounding discoveries. Some has been up there with the best stuff I've ever heard (true!) and some has been utterly unlistenable shite. The up side to this (although I would forgive your doubts) is that I will be recommending some of the good stuff here, along with the blogs where it can be found.

I can't recommend this book highly enough if you want to open up a whole new world to yourself. Go out and buy it. Meanwhile, give my "classical" posts a chance and a listen. I would be VERY interested to know what you think.


p.s. Seb Hunter also has a classical blog type thing called "The Bitterest Pill" which sub-titles itself "Classical Music one step at a goddamn time". Check it out. It's good.

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