Voyages of discovery

The Other Classical Musics: Fifteen Great Traditions. Edited by Michael Church. Boydell Press; 426 pages; £25.ANY self-respecting arts-lover living in America or Europe is familiar with a smattering of writers, painters and sculptors from outside the West. But few cultural buffs could name a single composer from, say, China or Turkey, let alone give any detail about them. A collection of essays, entitled “The Other Classical Musics”, shows how much they are missing.Intelligently edited by Michael Church, a British critic, the book looks at the canons of different parts of the world (India and China are deemed worthy of two chapters each, though Latin America is ignored). Written by different scholars, each chapter has a common structure, with a concise outline of the instruments, the style and the social relations behind the music. Lots of beautiful pictures and extracts of musical notation break up the text.The chapters on Indian classical music will be of particular interest to many readers, who may already have a vague understanding of it through the works of Ravi Shankar, a sitar-player (pictured)....Continue reading