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How to Write About Music: Excerpts from the 33 1/3 Series, Magazines, Books and Blogs with Advice from Industry-leading Writers

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If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, you'd do best to hone your chops and avoid clichés (like the one that begins this sentence) by learning from the prime movers. How to Write About Music offers a selection of the best writers on what is perhaps our most universally beloved art form. Selections from the critically-acclaimed 33 1/3 series appear along If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, you'd do best to hone your chops and avoid clichés (like the one that begins this sentence) by learning from the prime movers. How to Write About Music offers a selection of the best writers on what is perhaps our most universally beloved art form. Selections from the critically-acclaimed 33 1/3 series appear alongside new interviews and insights from authors like Lester Bangs, Chuck Klosterman, Owen Pallet, Ann Powers and Alex Ross. How to Write About Music includes primary sources of inspiration from a variety of go-to genres such as the album review, the personal essay, the blog post and the interview along with tips, writing prompts and advice from the writers themselves. Music critics of the past and the present offer inspiration through their work on artists like Black Sabbath, Daft Punk, J Dilla, Joy Division, Kanye West, Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, Pussy Riot and countless others. How to Write About Music is an invaluable text for all those who have ever dreamed of getting their music writing published and a pleasure for everyone who loves to read about music.


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If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, you'd do best to hone your chops and avoid clichés (like the one that begins this sentence) by learning from the prime movers. How to Write About Music offers a selection of the best writers on what is perhaps our most universally beloved art form. Selections from the critically-acclaimed 33 1/3 series appear along If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, you'd do best to hone your chops and avoid clichés (like the one that begins this sentence) by learning from the prime movers. How to Write About Music offers a selection of the best writers on what is perhaps our most universally beloved art form. Selections from the critically-acclaimed 33 1/3 series appear alongside new interviews and insights from authors like Lester Bangs, Chuck Klosterman, Owen Pallet, Ann Powers and Alex Ross. How to Write About Music includes primary sources of inspiration from a variety of go-to genres such as the album review, the personal essay, the blog post and the interview along with tips, writing prompts and advice from the writers themselves. Music critics of the past and the present offer inspiration through their work on artists like Black Sabbath, Daft Punk, J Dilla, Joy Division, Kanye West, Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, Pussy Riot and countless others. How to Write About Music is an invaluable text for all those who have ever dreamed of getting their music writing published and a pleasure for everyone who loves to read about music.

30 review for How to Write About Music: Excerpts from the 33 1/3 Series, Magazines, Books and Blogs with Advice from Industry-leading Writers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mattia Ravasi

    A treat and a treasure chest for anyone interested in the intersection between popular music and writing, be it in the form of criticism, academic work, or journalism. Actual writers wannabe go ahead - less hardcore types may be satisfied with some library or in-store perusing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tom Boniface-Webb

    A good read for any fan of the 33 1/3 series As a fan of the 33 1/3 series I came to this book hoping for some decent behind the scenes detail, and on the whole I wasn’t disappointed. Probably a few too many examples, slightly labouring the point, but then that’s kind of what it’s all about, I guess. The chapters on pitching for a book in the series are a great read, and are a must read for anyone wanting to do just this!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Killian

    Some good advice. Might help with my stuttering reviews and meaningless bile

  4. 4 out of 5

    Castles

    Mixed feeling with this book. I’ve picked it up for some professional refreshment, yet I’m not really sure I’ve learned anything new. That is, unlike the book’s title, there’s really not a lot of “how-to” write about anything, but rather tons of quotes from experienced writers, writing examples, and some exercise at the end of each chapter. It’s all ok, but there’s no real technique here (I’m not sure what did I expect either, honestly). Some of the writing examples were good, some of them were Mixed feeling with this book. I’ve picked it up for some professional refreshment, yet I’m not really sure I’ve learned anything new. That is, unlike the book’s title, there’s really not a lot of “how-to” write about anything, but rather tons of quotes from experienced writers, writing examples, and some exercise at the end of each chapter. It’s all ok, but there’s no real technique here (I’m not sure what did I expect either, honestly). Some of the writing examples were good, some of them were so good that they sent me to listen to the music. Of course, some of the examples were written by the legendary Lester Bangs and Alex ross so you can’t go wrong, but some were horrible, and some were just outdated and didn’t age well. But this book does attack the subject of writing in an era of digital journalism and new media, and does not ignore the fact that the writer and the editor are not spending a month with a pre-released album before they write about it, but do it in the same day it comes out, just as the listeners are downloading or streaming it. It puts the whole game in a different place and this is the age we’re living in, which is nothing new for a while now. So music writing is of course changing, I’m not sure this book got the hang of this change completely, but it’s a good book to consider if you’re in this industry. Regardless, 33 1/2 is a wonderful project which is exciting to follow, and I really appreciate their work and their books, but I must admit I skipped the last chapter about how to pitch for them since it’s not relevant anyway, or at least I think.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt Midlock

    If you have ever read music reviews and have any interest in the craft, this book is a fascinating read! The book is laid out like a textbook with chapters divided into Introduction, Advice, Excerpts, Writing Prompts and Go-Betweens. The various chapters cover the different methods used to write about music such as Album Review, Track-by-Track Reviews, Interviews, Music Scenes, Personal Essay, etc..... The book was really fascinating, but I will admit I skimmed some of the excerpts. It's tough to If you have ever read music reviews and have any interest in the craft, this book is a fascinating read! The book is laid out like a textbook with chapters divided into Introduction, Advice, Excerpts, Writing Prompts and Go-Betweens. The various chapters cover the different methods used to write about music such as Album Review, Track-by-Track Reviews, Interviews, Music Scenes, Personal Essay, etc..... The book was really fascinating, but I will admit I skimmed some of the excerpts. It's tough to read a Track-by-Track essay about some Taylor Swift album I care nothing about......same with any essay dealing with rap music - but that's just me. The greatest excerpt was by Croggon and Parker "On the Trouble With Contemporary Music Criticism." Fascinating and painfully true.... This book was a birthday gift from a good friend who is as passionate about music as I am. I will forever be grateful for this gift! :-)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jason Comely

    This book is so interesting, I considered writing music reviews for a living. That moment is long over.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vic

    Siempre he odiado el concepto de lectura obligada, pero creo que no me excedo si digo que este libro puede ser un gran candidato a formar parte de la biblioteca particular de cualquier persona con interés, ya no solo por el periodismo musical, sino por la música en general. El libro está estructurado desde un enfoque didáctico, separando los diferentes tipos de artículos y publicaciones en prensa musical. Uno de los grandes factores a favor es que no hay un autor que indique y hable desde su pers Siempre he odiado el concepto de lectura obligada, pero creo que no me excedo si digo que este libro puede ser un gran candidato a formar parte de la biblioteca particular de cualquier persona con interés, ya no solo por el periodismo musical, sino por la música en general. El libro está estructurado desde un enfoque didáctico, separando los diferentes tipos de artículos y publicaciones en prensa musical. Uno de los grandes factores a favor es que no hay un autor que indique y hable desde su perspectiva única, sino que en cada capítulo se incluyen fragmentos de diversos autores y estilos, para que el lector saque en claro lo que le parece valioso. Por otro lado, incluye muchos fragmentos y recomendaciones breves de una veintena de escritores de prensa musical, así como propuestas de ejercicios para aquellos más valientes. Sin duda es un gran material de referencia para adentrarse en este mundo. Tengo claro que volveré a algunas secciones en el futuro para seguir sacando oro.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Camilo

    "Pay attention. If it's worth remembering, you'll remember it later." This book takes me time to finish because has a lot of information and imputs so you need to process and try to internalize properly. I like to read all the experiences, pieces of advice, examples of a bunch of journalist, experts or successfull people in the field; give it to audience thier knowledge. For sure you're not wasting any minute in this reading. "Pay attention. If it's worth remembering, you'll remember it later." This book takes me time to finish because has a lot of information and imputs so you need to process and try to internalize properly. I like to read all the experiences, pieces of advice, examples of a bunch of journalist, experts or successfull people in the field; give it to audience thier knowledge. For sure you're not wasting any minute in this reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I loved this! Both for academic (read it for a class) and personally.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Mckinney

    i mean nobody learned to write by reading a book that's called "how to write" so some of the advice chunks arent as great but as an anthology of models of good music writing, it's worth the time! i mean nobody learned to write by reading a book that's called "how to write" so some of the advice chunks arent as great but as an anthology of models of good music writing, it's worth the time!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Elsass

    This was phenomenal. Not only is it a great anthology of all different kinds of music writing, it's also packed with amazing advice for writers of any genre. This was phenomenal. Not only is it a great anthology of all different kinds of music writing, it's also packed with amazing advice for writers of any genre.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ollie

    Now let me stop you before you way anything. I know what you’re thinking: a music website reviewing a book about how to write about music? Preposterous, right? What are you as the reader supposed to take from a book like this? Well, just listen for a second… As someone who spends more of their time writing about music rather than reading about it, of course I’m going to be curious about this book, and there believe you me there were countless lessons to learn in it. But as a reader, How to Write Now let me stop you before you way anything. I know what you’re thinking: a music website reviewing a book about how to write about music? Preposterous, right? What are you as the reader supposed to take from a book like this? Well, just listen for a second… As someone who spends more of their time writing about music rather than reading about it, of course I’m going to be curious about this book, and there believe you me there were countless lessons to learn in it. But as a reader, How to Write About Music also teaches you plenty about how to READ music reviews. A task like this is quite difficult and Woodworth and Grossan’s approach is valiant to say the least. How to Write About Music is simply structured in chapters with themes like album reviews, live shows, photography, and interviews. Obviously there are different ways to approach these topics and each chapter has “good” examples of overly descriptive, autobiographical, technical, and prosaic writing styles. In short, there are many ways to write about music and this book does an excellent job of covering them. There are even countless tips from great writers that vary from how to break into the business to how to approach a piece in particular. And it’s truly remarkable when writing can be engaging even though you don’t know the material being covered, but I daresay I’m quite proud of the fact that I knew a good deal of these bands and albums There’s a pat on my back. That said, I could have done without some of the ridiculous articles here like Tavi Gevinson’s irrelevant take on the equally trivial Taylor Swift. I guess famous people get a pass… As much as you love music, whether you’re a musician, a critic, or a fan, How to Write Music takes your appreciation of the subject to a higher level.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matt DiGangi

    Excellent, essential, and modern, this book contains insider advice for young music journalists from dozens of current professionals, as well as a solid cross-section of excerpts of music writing from the archives. Well-organized chapters provide great information about how to pitch your work, interview your subjects, and how to contextualize where your work might fit. I think the advice in this book need not be restricted to music journalists and could work for anyone interested in journalistic Excellent, essential, and modern, this book contains insider advice for young music journalists from dozens of current professionals, as well as a solid cross-section of excerpts of music writing from the archives. Well-organized chapters provide great information about how to pitch your work, interview your subjects, and how to contextualize where your work might fit. I think the advice in this book need not be restricted to music journalists and could work for anyone interested in journalistic nonfiction for new media. The best praise I could give this book would be, if it was available when I was younger, things might have turned out different.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ronni

    Would I heavily excerpt this book intended for adults and design a whole writing class for teens around it? Yes, I would. Structured for use as a text but suitable for late night reading, labeled a "how to write" book but just as much a "how to read about" book. But the part where Sonic Youth gets described as a bunch of guys by the editor mere pages away from an Ann Powers review dissing the patriarchy? Yeah, I docked it an entire star for that oversight. Would I heavily excerpt this book intended for adults and design a whole writing class for teens around it? Yes, I would. Structured for use as a text but suitable for late night reading, labeled a "how to write" book but just as much a "how to read about" book. But the part where Sonic Youth gets described as a bunch of guys by the editor mere pages away from an Ann Powers review dissing the patriarchy? Yeah, I docked it an entire star for that oversight.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Shawn

    Martin Mull once said that "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." As such, written music reviews are generally either awful or transcendent. Luckily for us, two Skidmore College alums have teamed up to bring us this wonderful collection. Pulling from the great 33 1/3 series and beyond, this book is perfect for students or casual listeners alike. Highly recommended. Martin Mull once said that "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." As such, written music reviews are generally either awful or transcendent. Luckily for us, two Skidmore College alums have teamed up to bring us this wonderful collection. Pulling from the great 33 1/3 series and beyond, this book is perfect for students or casual listeners alike. Highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    buddyglass

    You don't necessarily have to be an aspiring music critic yourself to appreciate this great collection of music writing and useful advice. Though I could have lived without a few of the selected pieces (i.e. Tavi Gevinson's uninspired and almost "fanboyish" article on Taylor Swift), I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any fan of the 33 1/3 series. You don't necessarily have to be an aspiring music critic yourself to appreciate this great collection of music writing and useful advice. Though I could have lived without a few of the selected pieces (i.e. Tavi Gevinson's uninspired and almost "fanboyish" article on Taylor Swift), I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any fan of the 33 1/3 series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Detroit

    You know you're in for a rough ride here when one contributor advises to try writing about an artist/band that you're not particularly passionate about pro or con (why bother?) and another cites Billy Corgan as his dream interview. I'd rather watch a car rust. You know you're in for a rough ride here when one contributor advises to try writing about an artist/band that you're not particularly passionate about pro or con (why bother?) and another cites Billy Corgan as his dream interview. I'd rather watch a car rust.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Simon Sweetman

    A must-have for anyone interested in music writing, not just in the how to do it but in reading some great examples. Worthwhile. A great plug for the most excellent 33 1/3 series too but there are plenty of 'classic' and contemporary extracts from outside of that series too. A must-have for anyone interested in music writing, not just in the how to do it but in reading some great examples. Worthwhile. A great plug for the most excellent 33 1/3 series too but there are plenty of 'classic' and contemporary extracts from outside of that series too.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    808.06678 H8479 2015

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Rose

    Useful.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris Estey

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jaret

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andy Mcloughlin

  24. 5 out of 5

    JC

  25. 4 out of 5

    Roos

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yuri Cunha

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sam Juner

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Feigh

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tanvi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brady O'Callahan

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