‘How To Write About Music’

A New textbook from the 33 1/3 team

9781628920437

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

Edited by Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan

DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE SYLLABUS HERE: PDF or Word Doc

“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 now. Edited by Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan, How to Write About Music is a new title from Bloombsury, the publishing company that puts out the 33 1/3 music book series. Excerpts 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.” – “A Good Week for Music Journalism” David Chiu, Brooklyn Based

“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 writing from the sharpest minds in the business.” – FACT Magazine

“All killer and no filler—How to Write About Music is crammed full of stylistically diverse excerpts and stellar advice from the world’s leading music writers. From Tavi Gevinson’s chit-chatty Taylor Swift defense to Susan Fast’s benchmark 33 1/3 proposal on Michael Jackson; students, bloggers and experienced critics alike are sure to find plenty of inspiration. Innovative, accessible and organized like a lovingly compiled mix tape, How to Write About Music will have you jiving around The Shard in no time.”

– Samantha Bennett, Senior Lecturer, The Australian National University, Australia

“Collection of great long and short pieces on (pop) music, profiles, analyses and personal reactions; practical manual for breaking into a challenging and protean business; text for a cool college course; all-star lineup of contemporary music writers; models for venues from your own blog to the New Yorker; thing to dip into for bite-size bits of advice—How To Write About Music is, as the Dead Boys never quite put it, all this (and more). Highlights include Chuck Klosterman’s interview how-to, Susan Fast’s exegesis of Dangerous, Alex Ross’s Radiohead, and, and, and—the volume draws on the 33 1/3 books without being in thrall to them, and it introduces many styles and many tastes—it’s hard to imagine a better place to start.”

– Stephen Burt, Professor of English, Harvard University, USA

“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

Description: 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.

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.

TO REQUEST AN EXAM OR DESK COPY PLEASE CLICK HERE (click on “request exam copy” below the “quantity” box)

Here’s a sneak peek at the table of contents.

FOREWORD BY RICK MOODY
INTRODUCTION BY MARC WOODWORTH
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
THE WRITERS
OVERTURE: EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS

CHAPTER 1
THE ALBUM REVIEW
INTRODUCTION
EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS
ANN POWERS ON DAFT PUNK’S RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES
JIM DEROGATIS ON SIMON AND GARFUNKEL’S BOOKENDS
LAURIE ANDERSON ON ANIMAL COLLECTIVE’S CENTIPEDE HZ
LOU REED ON KANYE WEST’S YEEZUS
WRITING PROMPT: THE BLIND REVIEW
WRITING PROMPT: MAKE IT BETTER
THE GO-BETWEENS:  HOW TO MAKE CONTACTS

CHAPTER 2
THE LIVE REVIEW

INTRODUCTION
EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS
PAUL MORLEY ON JOY DIVISION AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
ZACH SCHONFELD ON SPIRITUALIZED AT WEBSTER HALL
CHARLES AARON ON HOLE
WRITING PROMPT: THE LIVE SHOW
THE GO-BETWEENS: THE FIVE THINGS EVERY MUSIC WRITER OR EDITOR NEEDS

CHAPTER 3
TRACK-BY-TRACK

INTRODUCTION
EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS
KIM COOPER ON NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL
MARY GAITSKILL ON B-MOVIE
TAVI GEVINSON ON TAYLOR SWIFT
JONATHAN LETHEM ON TALKING HEADS
WRITING PROMPT: TRACK-BY-TRACK
THE GO-BETWEENS: HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR JOB?

CHAPTER 4
ANALYSIS
INTRODUCTION
RICHARD MELTZER ON EVIL AND ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
LUKE TURNER ON ENYA
BRIAN MORTON ON COMPUTER MUSIC
JORDAN FERGUSON ON J DILLA
WRITING PROMPT: LATE STYLE
THE GO-BETWEENS: OFF-BEAT ADVICE
CHAPTER 5
THE ARTIST INTERVIEW

INTRODUCTION
EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS
LIZZY GOODMAN WITH KIM GORDON
THOMAS SAYERS ELLIS WITH BOOTSY COLLINS
ALLEN GINSBERG WITH BECK
WRITING PROMPT: BE BOTH INTERVIEWER AND INTERVIEWEE
WRITING PROMPT: LEARN FROM THE BEST
THE GO-BETWEENS:  YOUR DREAM INTERVIEW SUBJECT

CHAPTER 6
THE PERSONAL ESSAY

INTRODUCTION
BRUCE EATON ON BIG STAR
LESTER BANGS ON VAN MORRISON
JAMES WOOD ON THE WHO
RICK MOODY ON OTIS REDDING, SIMON & GARFUNKEL, THE BEATLES , FUNKADELIC AND OTHERS
WRITING PROMPT: THE PERSONAL ESSAY
WRITING PROMPT: OFF-THE-RADAR MUSIC THAT MATTERS
THE GO-BETWEENS: HOW IS MUSIC WRITING DIFFERENT?

CHAPTER 7
THE BLOG PIECE

INTRODUCTION
EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS
CHRIS DEVILLE ON MUMFORD AND SONS
NICHOLAS CROGGON AND JAMES PARKER ON THE TROUBLE WITH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC CRITICISM
MATT MELIS ON FANDOM
WRITING PROMPT: THE BLOG PIECE
THE GO-BETWEENS:  YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE

CHAPTER 8
THE ARTIST PROFILE

INTRODUCTION
EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS
ALEX ROSS ON RADIOHEAD
JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN ON AXL ROSE
LINDSEY ZOLADZ ON PUSSY RIOT
SASHA FRERE JONES ON BEYONCÉ
WRITING PROMPT: THE LOCAL ARTIST PROFILE
THE GO-BETWEENS: WHAT SOURCES DO YOU USE?
CHAPTER 9
ALTERNATIVES

INTRODUCTION
JOHN DARNIELLE ON BLACK SABBATH
MARTY DAVIS ON BLACK FLAG
ROB SHEFFIELD FROM LOVE IS A MIX TAPE
JOE DEUEL ON Hüsker Dü
CAMPBELL MCGRATH ON BOB DYLAN
WRITING PROMPT: THE ANNOTATED MIX TAPE
WRITING PROMPT: OTHER VOICES
WRITING PROMPT: HEADLINES FROM TITLES
THE GO-BETWEENS:  DESERT ISLAND DISCS
CHAPTER 10
HOW IT SOUNDS

INTRODUCTION
EXPERT ADVICE FROM OUR WRITERS
ANDY BABIUK ON THE BEATLES
OWEN PALLET ON KATY PERRY
SUSAN FAST ON LED ZEPPELIN
JOHN PERRY ON JIMI HENDRIX
WRITING PROMPT: ISOLATED TRACKS
THE GO-BETWEENS: DO YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO MAKE MUSIC TO WRITE ABOUT IT?
CHAPTER 11
MUSIC SCENES

INTRODUCTION
GINA ARNOLD ON LIZ PHAIR’S GUYVILLE
ROSS SIMONINI ON JAMAICAN RUDE BOYS
SIMON MORRISON ON DANCE CLUBS IN KOSOVO
WRITING PROMPT: MUSIC SCENES
THE GO-BETWEENS: HOW HAS THE FIELD OF WRITING ABOUT MUSIC CHANGED?

CHAPTER 12
CULTURAL CRITICISM

INTRODUCTION
CARL WILSON ON CELINE DION
CHUCK KLOSTERMAN ON EMINEM
GREIL MARCUS ON CLARENCE ASHLEY
WRITING PROMPT: CULTURAL CRITICISM
THE GO-BETWEENS: WORDS OF ADVICE TO THE LONELY MUSIC CRITIC

CHAPTER 33 1/3
HOW TO PITCH A 33 1/3

INTRODUCTION
A SUCCESSFUL PITCH: SUSAN FAST ON MICHAEL JACKSON’S DANGEROUS
A SUCCESSFUL PITCH: PHILLIP CRANDALL ON ANDREW WK’S I GET WET
PHILLIP CRANDALL REVISITS HIS 33 1/3 PROPOSAL
WRITING PROMPT: THE 33 1/3 PITCH

COMPANION WEBSITE
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
INDEX

 

12 comments

  1. 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?

  2. 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 http://www.circadiansongs.com

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

  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. 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

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

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