The Sound of Music

Next year I will embark on a journey that marks the beginning of my life as a bird out of the nest. I am graduating from Marshall University’s music program in December with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Vocal Performance and will be further pursuing my art at a graduate school. My book collection has anything and everything to do with this journey and is comprised of books of music, about music, about singing, and a few instruments that I’ve picked up along the way. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It IS annotated, so you can find out a little about each book by reading below.

Because the code is incompatible with my blog format, I chose to simply screenshot and place a picture of my interactive shelf on this blog entry (it is backlinked to my shelfari). Here she is!

Book #1 in my collection: Adventures in Singing by Clifton Ware

Adventures in Singing is a music text that I used primarily for my Vocal Techniques course. The book is designed with the idea that the reader will one day be educating young (or older) singers. Contained in this edition are diagrams of the anatomy of the voice, different techniques and ideas for teaching singers, as well as many examples of songs for beginning and intermediate singers. I originally thought about selling it back (because, after all, I am a broke college student!), but after thoroughly looking through it and integrating it into my lessons with voice students, I decided it would be absolutely worth keeping and putting into my collection.

Book #2 in my collection: The Diagnosis & Correction of Vocal Faults by James S. McKinney

The Diagnosis & Correction of Vocal Faults is a book that details (surprise!) the diagnosis and correction of common and specific vocal inefficiencies. Not only does it delve deeply into the actual techniques that cause such inefficiencies of the voice, it gives very detailed instructions on how to go about correcting these problems. The thing that I like the most about this particular book is that it is geared more toward the older developing voice rather than a younger voice. I find this to be extremely helpful in my personal study and is the reason it remains in my personal collection.

Book #3 in my collection: Musicophilia

Musicophilia is all about the effects of music on the brain. I consider it to be the musical counterpart of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The book is more of a leisurely read (although extremely informative) and less about the scientific perspective of musical affect. It is such an easy read but remains stimulating and this is why it is a part of my collection.

Book #4 in my collection: This is Your Brain on Music

This is Your Brain on Music is a lot like Musicophilia in many ways. It studies (empirically) the effects of music on the brain and the body. Because it is more of a psychological and scientific study, it’s less easy to read but the information that can be extracted from the pages is mind-blowing. Many of the papers I’ve done during my undergraduate study at Marshall have contained quotes or snippets from this book. It takes a while to read, but it’s absolutely worth keeping in my collection.

Book #5 in my collection: The Prima Donna’s Album

This book is actually full of music that I study on a daily basis during my practices and lessons. Contained within the pages are many a beautiful aria, gorgeous embellishments, and millions of chords by composers long past. Aside from getting the music, you are also provided with the information appropriate to the music you choose to sing, such as the major work it’s from, the composer and their dates, and the translation of the piece.

Book #6 in my collection: The Structure of Singing by Richard Miller

The Structure of Singing is probably the most-loved book in my collection. Along with providing diagrams of the matured voice, it gives wonderful commentary on more important matters in the world of vocal pedagogy as written by Richard Miller, a leader in the field. Not only does it contain all of this, but it has pages upon pages of exercises for the most basic voice to the professionally honed instrument. Each page is filled with wisdom from someone who has taught the best of the best, and I hold this volume dearly to my heart as one of the most important books in my vocal education.

Book #7 in my collection: On the Art of Singing by Richard Miller

On the Art of Singing is just exactly as it sounds: a book on the art of singing. Although less specific than Structure of Singing, this book is extremely informative and contains very valuable diagrams that are more accurate than the average vocal pedagogy book. Also written by Richard Miller, it contains so many pedagogical examples and specificities that I’ve found extremely useful during my singing study.

Pictured below are just two of the many interesting instruments I’ve been able to incorporate into my musical research and courses over the past four years. Both instruments pictured my brother purchased for me and I’ve put into my collection as artifacts of my lasting relationship with music.


The first instrument (pictured above) is a pan flute. Although it isn’t directly applied to the vocal pedagogy or vocal artistry area of my study, my favorite opera (The Magic Flute) incorporates the pan flute in many ways. It becomes a leitmotif for the character Papageno, and is extremely important in the plot of the play. My brother purchased this particular instrument for me on his most recent trip to the beach, and I adore it. Naturally, it belongs in my collection.


The above-pictured instrument (also purchased on one of my brother’s beach trips!) is called a Kalimba. It is an instrument of African decent and is a modernized version of a more primitive instrument called the Mbira. As you can see, it consists of metal tongs that one must strike with their thumbs to produce sound. For a while in my musical career I was very interested in musical therapy, and this was one of the instruments I acquired that could be incorporated in that kind of study. It’s a beautiful instrument and makes equally gorgeous sounds! Again, it just fits so well into my collection, I couldn’t leave it out.


Digital Getdown

When one watches older sci-fi movies and television shows, it is observable that there are many technologically advanced presences to speak of. There are cars that fly, machines that automatically make your food of choice at the press of a button, and small handheld devices capable of giving you whatever information you need at that point. 70 years ago, this technology was unimaginable and was thought to be so far advanced that it might take us hundreds of years to develop such things.

In the current year of 2013, it is almost unimaginable to think of life without these things. We have microwaves, space shuttles, and handheld touch devices. One of these devices is called an eBook, and paves the way for one of the world’s most interesting questions (at least to me). Will we ever make the move to complete digitization?

Make your mark on history.

Because I’ve chosen to create my own linoleum print bookplates, I thought I’d explicitly cover the history of printed bookplates.

Although bookplates seem like they’d be a fairly recent development, the first mark of ownership placed on written work dates all the way back to ancient Egypt. This technique developed and eventually spread as far as England (circa the 1500s). In England, ownership of a book was marked by an inscription on the inside of the front cover.

The first ACTUAL printed bookplate hails from Germany and dates back to the 15th century. It was in Germany that bookplates have been found in great quantities as well as being of the highest quality available at that time.

“An artist cannot do anything slovenly.” – Jane Austen

Before reading more into the actual subject, I wasn’t confident in saying I knew exactly what an artist’s book is. Because of this, I think it’s imperative that my blog be on the actual subject of artist’s books as a whole rather than just small parts of said whole.

Artist’s books are defined loosely as contemporary works of art reminiscent of the shape, idea, or revamping of a book. Although they are very popular, they are hard to explain and can be interpreted into art in many different ways. Each “book” has one thing in common, though: it is a unique work of art created by the hands of a human being. Such works can be actual books an artist creates from scratch, or they may even be a book that was published but the artist revamped to suit his or her personal expression.

Artist’s books may be mixed media and are produced from the combination of many efforts of the creator. They are intended to be interacted with and to be portable so they can be exhibited (often through many mediums of display, ex: manipulation, performance books). In general, such books are not used as decoration, but for collection purposes (they are very hard to take care of in some cases and many people choose not to display them in their homes for this reason).

Below I’ll include some of my favorite Artist’s Books that I’ve seen upon my searching the web. They aren’t all extremely fascinating, but they are definitely beautiful pieces of art in their own right and I am beyond enraptured by such lovely novelties.

book2bookartbook3 book4


“One man’s style must not be the rule of another’s.” – Jane Austen

There are many things that would qualify a book as “unique”. It could be beautifully embroidered, have custom paper or quality marbling, or it could even contain a gorgeous or interesting inscription. Something specific that has captured my interest this semester is the idea of a book being beautiful because of its provenance.

Provenance is defined as the “history of the ownership of an object [book], especially when documented or authenticated”. My first personal experience with provenance was during a book “scavenger hunt” we held in our university library. We were challenged to look for things that make a book beautiful. The third book I picked up (a book on Indian Metaphysics…) contained letters shared between two people finding romance in the particular library. Although not the most beautiful or profound piece of provenance, it certainly made for a wonderful first experience with beautiful books.

That being said, provenance can be anything: a signature, a note, papers that have been pasted in, a bookplate, anything. Included here are examples of interesting provenance from the Philadelphia collection of Rare Books. Not only do these little snippets of history color a book’s personality, they can also raise the price significantly. Jane Austen passed away in 1817 and left her fictional manuscripts to her sister, Cassandra. They were inscribed with several directions Austen specifically penned for Cassandra. After Cassandra’s passing, they wove their way through many, MANY generations and were eventually sold to the British Library for a whopping £120,000.

“Nothing is to be compared to the misery of being bound without Love” – Jane Austen

Binding is defined as “the act of attaching a protective cover onto the front, back, and spine of a book”. The modern art comes from many millenia of successful and innovative bookbinding, beginning with that of the Ancient Orientals. Such books were made from narrow strips of palm leaves or bark. Writing was etched on the surfaces and then the “pages” were pressed between pieces of wood on either side to keep them straight. In order to hold the “books” together, holes would be set into them and then a cord or leather throng would be woven through. Sometimes the binding would be decorated elaborately with silver and gold, marks we associate with the beauty of a book.

Succeeding the primitive type of book the Orientals produced was the development of the scroll. The process by which one would make a scroll involves slitting plant stems, cutting them into fibrous strips, soaking them in the Nile, and then laying them side by side at right-angles in the Sun to dry. To finish the product, one would hammer them into a single sheet and then polish them with ivory to yield a proper writing surface. The problem with such materials lies in the fact that they could only be stored in rolls and because of this became extremely weathered and brittle.

Because Sense and Sensibility was written, produced, and bound in the very early 19th century, I decided to study up on what would have been common practice with bookbinding in that period. The particular edition I am studying has been extraordinarily useful because it declares very particularly what it is composed of. This edition is stated to have been bound in “contemporary black straight-grained half morocco”, and there are three things that can be immediately observed from this statement: the color of the binding (black), the material of the binding (morrocco – goatskin; known for its strength, beauty, and durability), and the amount of the book that is bound (half – ONLY the spine and corners are bound). Each of these things, I feel, has contributed greatly to the current condition (and price) of the book, and are a very large part of what makes it so astonishingly beautiful.

 A History of Bookbinding

Book Collecting Notes – Binding Types