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A Global History
by Tim Dowley
This is a beautiful book. Within its copiously illustrated pages (264 of them, from title page to index) it charts the history of Christian music of all kinds, both inside and outside the church, and across many cultures. It begins with a look at the instruments and practice of Old Testament times, and runs through to the start of the 21st century. The book has 21 chapters, interspersed with feature articles (again well illustrated) from guest contributors. Throughout, the text has clear sub-headings, and the style is very readable. All these virtues make it a joy to dip into.
To cover so much ground in a relatively small space is a remarkable achievement, and when you read the book from cover to cover, a couple of the shortcomings mentioned in the foreword do become apparent:- the mistakes, and an inevitable tendency for some parts of it to be little more than name-checking lists. Also, while the illustrations of people and places are lovely, I found myself wishing for a few more examples of music to illustrate what the text was describing.
None of this detracts from the pleasure this book gives. It makes a fine coffee table book, and at about 10 x 8 inches is suitable even for small coffee tables.
Reviewer: Martin Brasier (10/09/12)