Reviews of A Composer’s Guide to Understanding Music

  •    "By reaching out to performers, listeners, and educators, Brandon reminds us that the art of composition has a holistic dimension, and how it is inextricable from other music-related activities. Because of Brandon's interdisciplinary approach, 'A Composer's Guide to Understanding Music' is a valuable reference for a variety of classroom or studio settings and is an indispensable resource for the aspiring composer." Daniel Adams, Texas Southern University (From the NACWPI Journal,  Spring issue, 2006.  Reproduced by permission.)
  •     "Sy Brandon's ‘A Composer's Guide to Understanding Music’ is a wonderful and provocative ‘hands-on’ assessment of a subject often viewed as too technical.
    Readers learn step by step HOW to listen and WHAT to listen FOR in a musical work. There is clarity in Brandon's compilation and the downloadable mp3 files of short musical examples from works by the author/composer clearly illustrates all the topics in the text point by point.
        There are suggested activities for listeners, interpreters, composers, conductors, and educators, which invite and sometimes challenge readers to further explore the integration of musical sound worlds and the compositional process.
        More than simply another text on composing, the reader's fascination is propelled forward by the author's enthusiasm and passion for the subject. Highly recommended!" Robert Levy, Professor Emeritus (Director of Bands) Lawrence University (1979-04)
  • "Congratulations on the completion of such a wonderful and much needed text. As an active educator and musician, I have a keen awareness of available resources and a clear understanding of what works well. Let me start by saying I found ‘A Composer’s Guide To Understanding Music’ to be much more than what the title implies. You have successfully integrated a theoretical summary, musical workbook, and interpretive guide in a way that I have never come across. Your book effectively addresses the needs of so many different types of readers: composers, performers, listeners, teachers, and anyone interested in understanding what makes music so enjoyable and satisfying.
        The listening activities at the end of each chapter, the downloadable mp3 files, as well as the sequence and cumulative nature of the topics, make ‘A Composer’s Guide To Understanding Music’ a perfect addition to any course on composition, music appreciation, or interpretation, and I look forward to it becoming available so I can begin to use it in my own teaching. Simply put, it’s a good read and it works. You should be commended on your abilities as a writer, educator, and communicator. Your book is great resource and I have enjoyed it very much. Well done!" Chuck Hulihan, Director of Guitar Programs, Glendale Community College, Guitarist with Duozona
  • "In today’s world, the words "user friendly" are understood by most people and certainly apply to A Composer’s Guide to Understanding Music - eighty pages jammed packed with information useful to musicians and non-musicians alike.  Each concise chapter leaves no doubt that these important facts and concepts are viewed through the eyes of an accomplished composer. … I would enthusiastically recommend this text to high school seniors preparing for entrance exams in music required of most colleges and universities.  The material set forth in this text is precisely what I teach to both music majors in theory and non-music majors in fundamentals.  What are unique about this book are the activities presented with each concept.  The glossary (five full pages) is filled with terminology all musicians and listeners need to know.  Finally, Dr. Brandon’s appendix is designed to assist the listener with selected masterpieces (including his own) and offers a wide variety of major books on the subject."Thomas G. Elliot, D.M.A., Professor of Music Emeritus, Salisbury University, Founder and Music Director of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra and its Affiliated Youth Symphony Orchestra (Retired - 2005), University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Dean, College of Music (Retired - 1985)
  • "A Composer's Guide to Understanding Music is an academic yet user-friendly guide for anyone seeking the tools necessary to create original sounds, and provides deeper analysis for listeners who want to better appreciate "art" music. … a very useful reference book that any music teacher, music director, professional or even amateur musician will find helpful." Larry Coressel, Production Manager, Host of Morning Concert and New Music, Dayton Public Radio
  •  "The activities themselves were loose enough to allow any style of composition to be written but still had good direction. …  What I also liked about the activities is that they were fun and did not feel like book work for a class." Rob Pendergrass, Freshman Music Major, Emory University
  • "You have thoroughly developed the your idea of unity and variety and provided a way to explore them with many activities …  I appreciate these activities and will experiment with them in my classroom." Amanda Jacobs, Composer and Elementary and Middle School Music Teacher
    Brighton, Central School District (NY)

... "A composer writing about how a composer thinks is more authentic than a theorist writing about how he thinks a composer thinks." Dick Strawser, Music Director, Evening Host & Tracer of Lost Chords, WITF-FM 89.5, Your Classical Music & NPR News Station, Harrisburg PA
"Dr. Brandon exemplifies his  love for music in his new book.  ... I commend him on this venture and encourage all people interested in music to read his wonderful book." Dr. Bob Feinberg, Chiropractor, Columbus, GA

Book
Table of Contents