When the pop-up Christmas tree stores take hold in my home of New York City each year, it’s a reminder that the clock is ticking to buy goodies to be lovingly wrapped and placed under the tree — once the tree makes its way from the street to its rightful place in the home, of course.
While most trees might be adorned with boxes of sweaters, toy trucks or jewelry, on this blog the ideal gifts — whether for yourself or for your favorite music notation aficionado — are more likely to take the form of books, apps, or gear. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite selections.
The second edition of Samuel Z. Solomon’s incredible How to Write for Percussion was published in April 2016, and it’s worth every penny — even if you already own the first edition from 2004. There are even more excerpts to pore over, and Sam interviews percussionists and composers to get their individual takes on the challenge of writing effectively for the seemingly limitless variety of instruments that a percussionist might find himself or herself playing at any time. In addition, there are a whopping nine hours of online videos to complement the book — perfect for binge-watching by the fire.
Price: $30 in paperback.
Every year I recommend Elaine Gould’s Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation, and there’s even more reason to do so this year. First published in 2011 to great acclaim, the 704-page master reference quickly became indispensible for professional engravers, copyists and publishers. This year, consumers were treated to a wonderful surprise: the imposing hardcover format has been joined by nimble e-book versions, for Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBooks. Whether or not the original hardcover graces your bookshelf already, having the option to take this resource anywhere is worth the purchase price.
Price: $66 in hardcover; $36 in e-book format.
If the Gould is the heavyweight tome on the subject of music notation, then the Alfred Essential Dictionary of Music Notation is its ideal counterpart. Small and lightweight but chock-full of goodies, it’s the perfect quick reference on a surprisingly wide range of notation topics. With clear illustrations and practical descriptions, it’s the ideal gift for the budding composer who is looking to improve upon the beauty of their score. It’s presented alphabetically, so it’s not necessarily meant to be read in sequence. But that’s the nature of a dictionary, after all, isn’t it? Also in the “Essential” series are dictionaries of orchestration, and terminology — together, they are the three kings of pocket music references.
Price: $7 in paperback; $6 in Kindle format. Read the full article →