Read more about Understanding Music: Past and Present

Understanding Music: Past and Present

(14 reviews)

Alan Clark, Middle Georgia State University

Thomas Heflin, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Jeffery Kluball, Darton State College

Elizabeth Kramer, University of West Georgia

Copyright Year: 2015

ISBN 13: 9781940771335

Publisher: University of North Georgia Press

Language: English

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Reviewed by Joel Vinson, Director of Bands, Dodge City Community College on 2/14/22

This text book provides an excellent breakdown of the basics behind the science of music, as well as a brief but comprehensive look at all musical periods. read more

Reviewed by Kate Bergman, Clinical instructor and academic advisor, Emporia State University on 5/14/21

No index, but excellent glossary at conclusion of each chapter and at the end. Covers classical music history, plus last chapter of popular music and world music. read more

Reviewed by Evan Kirk, Instructor of Music, Community College of Aurora on 8/3/20

This text is very thorough. I enjoyed seeing so much depth on every topic from the basics/fundamentals all the way through western musical history. read more

Reviewed by Jonathan Kulp, Director, School of Music and Performing Arts, ULL on 10/31/19

This book actually covers more content areas than I do in my own class, since it includes also popular music and non-western music. The glossary is extensive but not always accurate--read carefully! The embedded table of contents is practically... read more

Reviewed by Lewton Jones, Graduate Student/PSU/Music Teacher/Community Ed, PCC on 6/19/18

The book reads like a text book in its tight order. It covers the beginning of music, sound, acoustics in a very comprehensive way. At the end of each chapter is a Glossary and Summation which is very helpful because of the volley of information... read more

Reviewed by Matthew Donahue, Lecturer, Bowling Green State University on 2/1/18

This book (Understanding Music Past and Present) does a good job of covering a variety of Western musical styles for the non-music major student. Keep in mind that this book is only an introductory textbook and is not meant to go in depth into... read more

Reviewed by Alexandre Beliaev, Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley on 2/1/18

This book contains a glossary of musical terms at the end of each chapter, as well as an extensive general glossary for the whole textbook as an appendix. The book does not contain an index for those who want to find where specific terms or topics... read more

Reviewed by Ingrid Gordon, Associate Adjunct Professor, LaGuardia Community College on 2/1/18

The book is a comprehensive survey of the history of Western Classical Music (including a chapter on music fundamentals), and has a good table of contents and a very good glossary. It also covers Popular and non-Western musics, but these are given... read more

Reviewed by Thomas Garcia, Associate Professor, Miami University on 6/20/17

This book is a comprehensive look at music history. It covers music from the Middle Ages through the Twentieth Century and beyond, and includes a look at Popular music in the United States. It includes a glossary of terms and a discussion of... read more

Reviewed by Lillie Gordon, Lecturer, University of Tennessee on 6/20/17

This book covers all of the areas generally included in similar WAM textbooks, although late 20th and early 21st century composers are not engaged thoroughly. The introduction includes more focus on the science of music than most other options,... read more

Reviewed by Jason Heald, Associate Professor, Umpqua Community College on 6/20/17

Understanding Music: Past and Present is a conventional survey of Western European Music for non-music majors. The information is, for the most part, presented chronologically, and the authors provide detailed historical context for each musical... read more

Reviewed by Steven Ashby, Instructor, Virginia Commonwealth University on 4/11/17

I found the text covered all the musical time periods of Westen Classical Music very succinctly. I found the discussion of Popular music forms in the final chapter to be a fine choice, as it can be overlooked and is often a good jumping off point... read more

Reviewed by Jonathan Chenoweth, Professor, University of Northern Iowa on 2/8/17

To assemble a comprehensive survey of Western art music in a single introductory volume of modest size is an impossible task, and I applaud the effort to make such a text available in a format that avoids the usual sticker shock. But in its... read more

Reviewed by David Mulcahy, Associate Professor, University of Arizona on 2/8/17

The book's main chapters provide a overview and history of music in the western world; starting with an introductory chapter about the 'fundamental' of music and proceeding chronologically from the music of the middle ages through popular music in... read more

Table of Contents

  • Music Fundamentals
  • Music of the Middle Ages
  • Music of the Renaissance
  • Music of the Baroque Period
  • Music of the Classical Period
  • Nineteenth-Century Music and Romanticism
  • The Twentieth Century and Beyond
  • Popular Music in the United States
  • Appendix
  • Glossary

Ancillary Material

  • Ancillary materials are available by contacting the author or publisher.
  • About the Book

    Understanding Music: Past and Present is an open Music Appreciation textbook co-authored by music faculty across Georgia. The text covers the fundamentals of music and the physics of sound, an exploration of music from the Middle Ages to the present day, and a final chapter on popular music in the United States.

    About the Contributors


    Dr. Alan Clark is currently Director of Bands at Middle Georgia State University. He has taught and conducted at all levels from middle school through high school to professional military bands. While teaching High School in Lakeland, Florida he also served as an adjunct music faculty member at Florida Southern College and as an instructor with the Suncoast Sound Drum and Bugle Corps.

    Tennessee-born jazz trumpeter Thomas Heflin has been hailed as “a fluent trumpeter with a bright tone and a forward-looking style” by jazz writer Scott Yanow. In 2005, he placed second in the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in Seattle, WA and has since been featured or mentioned in Italy’s Jazz Magazine, The Pittsburgh Tribune Review and The International Trumpet Guild Journal among others. Heflin has released three albums as a leader on Blue Canoe Records, the last of which was a collaborative CD with Ron Westray, former lead trombonist with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He has performed in a professional capacity with the likes of James Williams, Vincent Herring, Donald Brown, and Lou Rawls. Heflin has served as an instructor at the Manhattan School of Music Summer Music Camp, The Jefferson Center Jazz Institute, the University of Texas, the University Outreach and Continuing Education Program at the University of Tennessee and Roane State Community College. He also served as the Central Greenough Artist-in-Residence in Western Australia as well as an artist-in-residence the Always on Stage Festival in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. In 2009, Heflin received his doctorate in Music Performance (Jazz Emphasis) from the University of Texas, Austin. Shortly after, he moved to New York City and served as Program Manager and jazz faculty at the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division for five years. He now lives in Tifton with his wife Danica and his daughter Anna Bree and is proud to serve as Assistant Professor of Jazz at ABAC.

    Originally from Valdosta, GA, Jeff Kluball earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1980 from Valdosta State College (currently Valdosta State University), and a master’s degree in music education in 1983 from the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago where he studied conducting under Victor Zajec. He continued his study in music conducting and band repertoire with Dr. William D. Revelli and received his Music Education Specialist Degree from Troy State University in 1990. Jeff completed his Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Sarasota on February 6, 2001. His extensive research revolved around the influence of music study on academic achievement and brain development.

    Elizabeth Kramer, PhD, Associate Professor of Music History and Associate Dean, Department of Music, College of Arts and Humanities, University of West Georgia.

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