Audio Culture by Christopher Cox and Daniel WarnerWhen I started out the “year of non-fiction” (as I’ve been calling it), one of my sub-goals was to also read a wide variety of material as well. Because I also write music reviews in my spare time, I figured that one area I would try to fill in some knowledge gaps was in the realm of music. Earlier this year, I’d read a book on the history of hip hop, and I thought it would also be nice to read a little bit more about the pioneers of electronic music.

Audio Culture: Readings In Modern Music came recommended to me by several sources, and although I enjoyed it, it ultimately felt like a big grab bag of sorts. The major problem with the book is simply that it’s a collection of lots of different essays by a huge number of different authors. The writing styles are varied, and although the book is loosely structured into different themese, ultimately the voices of the authors themselves shine through and make for a sometimes difficult read. For instance, the tone of the articles ranges from hardcore music theory to pseudo-intellectual (and using LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS to make a point) to downright jokey and playful at times.

The parts of the book that I enjoyed most were the essays written by the musicians that I follow closest, even though they were also some of the ones that I learned the least from. In the end, I came to realize that although music theory and breaking everything down is fun to talk about sometimes, I’m really just one of those people who wants to sit down and do it instead of trying to place everything on a grid.

What it boils down to is that I’m kind of an idiot when it comes to creating music. I’ve never learned to play an instrument, and when I make music it’s entirely by ear with lots and lots of trial and error. When people start talking about theory, I tend to want to run away and just smack my keyboard around for awhile and hope that something nice-sounding comes out. Hunting and pecking indeed.