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Best Books On Music

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My list is focused on performing, since that's my focus, but I guess a really hot unauthorized biography of Bob Dylan's gardener could be a good read as well. These aren't just my favorite books; they're the ones that radically transformed my thinking about music and ultimately changed my life.

1. Sound In Motion, David McGill: this book blew my mind and is now an annual summer read. It's the greatest (really only) book on music phrasing I've ever come across. It transformed the way listen to and play music. It's pretty thick reading and probably demands at least a few semesters of college level music theory to really make heads or tails of. It is very classical music focused, but could change the life of anyone trying to understand why some musicians seem to really be able to turn a phrase and others seem to fall flat. It's based on Marcel Tabuteau's (famous former oboist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and teacher at Curtis) system for teaching phrasing. It can come across a little overly systematized and prescriptive for something as personal as phrasing, but once you get it (and HEAR it), you'll never be the same. It's not a light read, but it's worth it.

2. Effortless Mastery, Kenny Werner: this book blew my mind as well. It was a slow read, not because it's particularly dense, but because I had to pause every few pages and just meditate on what I just read. It deals with all of the baggage we bring to our practice and performing. It's filled with straight truth, although I'm not sure I'll ever know what to make of that truth.

3.Tennis, The Inner Game, Timothy Gallwey: this isn't a music book (Gallwey wrote a music book as well, but I've never read it). It's mostly just Gallwey's observations in learning to play tennis. It's usually discussed as a goto book when someone is dealing with nerves, but it never seemed like that to me. It's really just a great treatise on how to learn a skill.

4. This isn't a book, but pretty much anything Hal Galper says blows my mind: 


Edited by Mole

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You Never Give Me Your Money - The Beatles after the breakup.  This was a great book that laid out not only how the Beatles interacted after the breakup, buy why everything went sideways regarding their contracts with each other, etc.  Really fascinating insights.  

The Jeff Tweedy autobiography was a fun read.  He's actually a good writer.


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The Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, slash, and Sammy Hagar biographies are all great reads imo.

Hammer of the Gods is required reading.

The dirt was entertaining.

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