How To Write About Music

“The long-running 33 1/3 series is branching out from its usual pocket-sized, album-by-album format to round up some of the best writing about music from the sharpest minds in the business.” Fact Magazine

“The best critics make it look easy, but figuring out how and why music works on us—why certain sounds and melodies can incite ecstasy or devastation—is extraordinarily tough work. This smartly compiled primer, the first of its kind, is jammed full of priceless advice on how to make it happen.”Amanda Petrusich, author of Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records

“It is remarkable that while there have been plenty of music history books and biographies, there has never really been a guide about the profession and just how to get started in it–until nowExcerpts of writings from the series are included in this guide as well as from other books, magazines and blogs. Specific areas about music journalism from crafting the live review to writing artist profiles are augmented by tips from writers and editors; there’s even a section on how to pitch a 33 1/3 book.”David Chiu, Brooklyn Based


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.

The editors interviewed over 40 working music writers so within these pages you will find actual advice and war stories from: Kyle Anderson, Pete Astor, Nick Attfield,  Michael Azerrad, Michael Barclay, Joe Bonomo, Franklin Bruno, Bryan Charles, Kim Cooper, Phillip Crandall, Drew Daniel, Marty Davis, Jim DeRogatis, Kevin Dettmar, Bruce Eaton, D.X. Ferris, Jim Fusilli,  Matthew Gasteier, Rob Harvilla, Tony Herrington, Anthony Kwame Harrison,  Richard Henderson, Jessica Hopper, Sam Inglis, Casey Jarman, Matt LeMay, Jonathan Lethem, Marvin Lin, Paul Morley, Simon Morrison, Evie Nagy,  Chris Ott, Oliver Primus, Mark Richardson,  Luis Sanchez, Rob Sheffield, Ross Simonini,  Ben Sisario, Scott Tennent, Luke Turner, RJ Wheaton, Carl Wilson, Douglas Wolk, Alex Young and Lindsey Zoladz.


13 thoughts on “How To Write About Music”

  1. Pingback: 33⅓: How to Write About Music – Discursive anomalies

  2. Pingback: Writing an Effective Music Bio: The Musician’s Guide | News By Jessica

  3. Music is one of those subjects that is fairly considered to be one of the toughest to write about. Music is so abstract you can write whatever you want about it. Except – it is not exactly like that. Because music is a part of a culture it has a fair amount of ties with different disciplines – logic and math are amongst them. You can’t write about music and avoid its ties with deeper cultural undercurrents. And if you do – you’ll miss so many interesting things.

    Part of the problem with the music writing lies in misunderstanding of its purpose. Scientists may argue that one doesn’t need to write about music at all if he don’t get the gist of it with the power of theory. But that not all. Writers often seem to set aside the topic in order to concentrate on their own stylistic flourishes. In that cases the topic is drowning with flowery language, elaborate phrasing and abundant imagery. That’s wrong. The purpose of writing an essay about music is to give the reader an understanding of a piece and its place in culture. With that the reader will be able to fully appreciate it.

    If you want to know how to write a good essay about music – visit our blog at AbrahamEssays

  4. I ‘ve written and article about my kind of music some time ago but writing in full scale is a classy procedure. Isn’t it somehow like trying to play in the piano a book in order to describe it? Can we play a script in the piano?

  5. Pingback: 33 1/3 to publish How To Write About Music

  6. Hi, I’m an artist whose works revolve around music as a subject-matter, would like to invite a couple of your London-based writers to run some music writing workshops at Camden Arts Centre in April, as part of my residency project. Would it be possible for me to get in touch with your London-based writers? Thank you very much. Best Wishes, Song-Ming Ang

  7. Larry Rothfield

    This might be a really good book for us to assign in a staff-taught first-year humanities core course we run at the University of Chicago on “media aesthetics” (we do a quarter on sound). But is there any way I could get a desk copy to check it out before I recommend it to our staff?

  8. So glad this is happening, though, February seems so distant. Is there a pre-order available? Please, just take my money.

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