The Quotable Musician : From Bach To Tupac

This book, by Shiela E. Anderson, contains more than a thousand quotations by the famous and not-so-famous from every genre of music – including classical, rock, Latin, country, blues and hip hop – on a wealth of topics. Here are some of them:

On The Definition of Music:

  • True music must repeat the thought and inspiration of the people and the time. (George Gershwin)

On Identity:

  • If the music is eccentric, I have to be. Anybody talented in any way – they’re called eccentric. (Thelonious Monk)

On Composing:

  • The secret of writing a good popular song is to make it melodically simple and harmonically attractive. (Jules Styne)

On The Effects Of Music:

  • There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music. (George Eliot)

On Performing and Rehearsing:

  • If I don’t practise for one day, I know it; if I don’t practise for two days, the critics know it; if I don’t practise for three days, the audience know it. (Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Cellist)

On Humour:

  • What comes first, the melody or the lyric? The check! (Richard Rogers)

On Spirituality:

  • Music is self-expression. Singing is how I pray, and the music is my religion. (Chaka Khan)

On Living, Aging and Dying:

  • The death of Mozart before he had passed his 35th year is perhaps the greatest loss the musical world had ever suffered. (Edvard Grieg)

On Conducting:

  • No other movement is so consequential. (David Hazeltine, Pianist)

On Rejection and Failure:

  • Rejection is the greatest aphrodisiac. (Madonna)

On Success, Fame and Fortune:

  • Do you know what the secret of success is? Be yourself and have some fun. (Tito Puenete, to Awilda Revera)

On Other Musicians:

  • Bach is like an astronomer who, with the help of ciphers, finds the most wonderful stars — Beethoven embraced the universe with the power of his spirit — I do not climb so high. A long time ago, I decided that my universe will be the soul and heart of man. (Frederick Chopin)

On Love:

  • Music is love in search of another word. (Sidney Lanier)

On Wisdom:

  • Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence. (Bobby Sanabria, Percussionist)

On Musical Genres:

  • Country music is three chords and the truth. (Harlan Howard)

On Cynicism:

  • Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end. (Igor Stravinsky)

On The Nature Of Music:

  • I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.
    (Billy Joel)

On Song:

  • Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

On Greatness:

  • I never wanted to be famous, I only wanted to be great! (Ray Charles)

On Society:

  • Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul. Musical innovations is full of danger in the state, for when modes of music change, the laws of the state always change with them. (Plato)

On Critics and Criticism:

  • Composers often tell you that they don’t read criticisms of their work… I am an exception. I admit to a curiosity about the slightest clue as to the meaning of a piece of music – a meaning, that is, other than the one I know I have put there. (Aaron Copland)

On Perspectives and Opinions:

  • You don’t need any brains to listen to music. (Luciano Pavarotti)

On Music As Art:

  • Music is the art of thinking with sounds. (Jules Combarieu)

This book is interesting, informative and addictive! There must be (if not, there should be) another volume similar to this delightful collection!


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