Consilience Productions
Book Picks

On this page, we present to you links to recommended books or other publications, arranged alphabetically by title, that have to do with music. When you click on a title below, you will be taken to another page that describes the publication in greater detail. From that individual page, we then link you to another website where you can purchase the book or publication.

If you have any suggestions for other books or publications to be included on this page, please send them in and we will consider including them on this page. Thanks!

Louis Armstrong - In His Own Words - This fantastic publication of Satchmo's writings spanning decades is a must read for one to truly understand the essence behind the man who basically invented jazz music.

Notes and Tones - Musician-to-Musician Interviews.
This book is a compilation of interviews by the great jazz drummer, Arthur Taylor, with his fellow musicians of the 1960's & '70's. Fascinating insight into the lives of some of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th Century.

Beethoven. This biography of the legendary figure is considered the best out there. If you're interested in his life from many different angles, this is the book to get.

The Producer - John Hammond and the Soul of American Music. Hammond either discovered or helped establish the careers of Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Charlie Christian, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, and Bruce Springsteen, among others. He was a scion of one of the wealthiest families in America, the Vanderbilts, and he was drawn to black music and culture from a young age. He also grew up with the belief, handed down by his mother, that it was his duty to help others. This biography from first-time writer, Dunstan Prial, is a must read.

Piano - The Making of a Steinway Grand - James Barron, a New York Times staff writer, expands on his series of articles published in the newspaper for a thoroughgoing chronicle of how a New York immigrant family created an American cultural institution. Barron tracks, from inception to stage, one Steinway concert grand piano named K0862, a direct descendant of the first Model D developed in 1884 by the German family of piano makers established in New York.

D) Q)

Duke Ellington - Beyond Category. This biography by John Hasse is a fantastic source of knowledge about one of America's greatest artists.

Escaping the Delta - Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. "As far as the evolution of black music goes, Robert Johnson was an extremely minor figure," writes the author. This book, along with others, are now attempting to dissect the facts from the myths surrounding this undoubtedly gifted musician who issued just 11 songs in his lifetime.


"Ralph Stanley - Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times." - Marked by Dr. Ralph Stanley’s banjo picking, his brother Carter’s guitar playing, and their haunting and distinctive harmonies, the Stanley Brothers began their career in 1946 and blessed the world of bluegrass with hundreds of classic songs, including “White Dove,” “Rank Stranger,” and what has become Dr. Ralph’s signature song, “Man of Constant Sorrow.”


"Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting" - "Songwriter Jimmy Webb brings his insiders knowledge, experience, and star power to the ultimate guide for aspiring songwriters. With a combination of anecdotes, meditation, and advice, he breaks down the creative process from beginning to endfrom coping with writers block, to song construction, chords, and even self-promotion. Webb also gives readers a glimpse into the professional music world."

"33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day" - "Mr. Lynskey's decision to begin his book with "Strange Fruit," first sung by Holiday in 1939 at age 23 (and written by Abel Meeropol, a Communist), will be controversial among some American songbook geeks. So much came before. But Mr. Lynskey makes a convincing case that prior to "Strange Fruit" protest songs "had nothing to do with mainstream popular music." Rather "they were designed for specific audiences -- picket lines, folk schools, party meetings." ~~ NY Times Book Review

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I) V)
The Violin Maker - Finding a Centuries-Old Tradition in a Brooklyn Workshop - Emerson Quartet violinist, Eugene Drucker, plays a 1686 Stradivari that is temperamental, especially when traveling. Polish immigrant, Sam Zygmuntowicz, whom Marchese met at a luthiers' workshop, is one of the foremost luthiers making violins. Knowing both enabled Marchese to trace the construction of the violin from the beginning to its premier use.


K) X)
Lush Life - A Biography of Billy Strayhorn. "Lush Life is as beautiful and intelligent as its subject. David Hajdu has brought all my dear memories of Billy Strayhorn to life." - Lena Horne.

Mozart - A superb biography of "The Master" (by Maynard Solomon, of the "Beethovan" biography fame).

Musicophilia - As the NY Times says, "Music has been used successfully as a treatment for many kinds of mental suffering. Indeed the benefits of the singing cure are more evident than those of the talking one. Oliver Sacks describes as astonishing the sight of deeply demented patients waking from their torpor or casting aside their agitation to focus on songs that are played to them."

Myself Among Others - George Wein's impressive autobiography detailing his life in jazz and the "struggles and triumphs of the extraordinary man behind the Newport Jazz Festival."


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