The Muse That Sings / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $15.36
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 71%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $15.36   
  • New (6) from $28.77   
  • Used (5) from $15.30   


The Muse That Sings is a unique behind-the-scenes look at both twentieth-century music and the nuts and bolts of creative work. Here, twenty-five of America's leading composers—from Adams to Zorn, from Bolcom to Vierk—talk candidly about their craft, their motivations, their difficulties, and how they how proceed from musical idea to finished composition.

While focusing on the process and the stories behind specific works, the composers also touch on topics that will interest anyone involved in creative work. They discuss teachers and mentors, the task of revision, relationships with performers, and the ongoing struggle for a balance between freedom and discipline.

They reveal sources of inspiration, artistic goals, and the often unexpected ways their musical ideas develop. Some describe personal tonal systems; others discuss the impact of computers and other electronic tools on their work; still others reflect philosophically on the inner impulses and outer influences that continue to drive them.

While serious music has a reputation for being difficult and inaccessible, The Muse That Sings provides a powerful antidote. The composers in this book speak clearly and thoughtfully in response to key questions of concern to all readers interested in contemporary music.

Each interview has been edited to stand alone as a concise meditation on muse and technique, and the book includes selected discographies as well as brief biographical sketches.

Anyone with an interest in twentieth-century music or in the creative process will find this lively collection a valuable source of inspiration and insight.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The effect on the reader is astonishing as one after another of these composers is revealed, warts and all, to be desperately and wonderfully human."—David McGowan, American Music Teacher

"Engaging and inspirinig."—Chamber Music Magazine

"...The Must That Sings" [is] a book which will prove fascinating to those with an interest in contemporary musical composition, and in the creative process in general....Every decade needs a book like this, for ideas and tastes will always change and it will always require the work of scholars to document how the creative minds of an age think about their art. Ann McCutchan has provided such a work."—The Ithaca Times

"These interviews with 25 composers are distilled to short, informal yet highly focused discussions....[McCutchan] allows the voices of the composers—most of whom live and work in the U.S. and were born between 1930 and 1960—to come through with candor...These intimate snapshots of creative artists contemplating their role and function at the end of the 20th century succeed not only in shedding light on the creative process, but in dispelling many of the negative stereotypes attached to contemporary music." —Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These interviews with 25 composers are distilled to short, informal yet highly focused discussions in which almost all of the composers refer in some way to the academic serialist movement that has been scaring off audiences for 50 years. McCutchan (Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute), who conducted the interviews between 1995 and 1998, allows the voices of the composers--most of whom live and work in the U.S. and were born between 1930 and 1960--to come through with candor. John Corigliano explains that he composed his opera Ghosts of Versailles in colored crayons because he "wanted the color of the sound to change as a single line moved." On the relative importance of self-doubt, Bruce Adolphe, education adviser to New York's Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, says, "Doubt is a waste of energy when you're trying to be creative, but it's useful when you're editing the piece." About his work habits, Steve Reich says, "What happens in 95 percent of the pieces is that I work a lot, I trash a lot, I revise a lot"; and John Zorn, who has influenced the downtown avant-garde music scene, explains, "The sensibility of the generation that I belong to, which is interested in world music, jazz, funk, hard-core punk, classical music... is the same one Mozart had. He made use of everything around him." Rounding out each interview is a selected list of the composer's work. These intimate snapshots of creative artists contemplating their role and function at the end of the 20th century succeed not only in shedding light on the creative process, but in dispelling many of the negative stereotypes attached to contemporary music. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195168129
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/18/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,277,373
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning fine arts writer Ann McCutchan is also the author of Marcel Moyse: Voice of the Flute (1994). She is a Lecturer in the School of Music at the University of Texas.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Alphabetical List of Composers
Foreword by Leonard Slatkin (Music Director, National Symphony Orchestra)
1. Eric Stokes (b. 1930)
2. Steve Reich (b. 1936)
3. William Bolcom (b. 1938)
4. John Corigliano (b. 1938)
5. John Harbison (b. 1938)
6. Joan Tower (b. 1938)
7. John Adams (b. 1947)
8. Claude Baker (b. 1948)
9. Dan Welcher (b. 1948)
10. Daniel S. Godfrey (b. 1949)
11. Fred Lerdahl (b. 1949)
12. Shulamit Ran (b. 1949)
13. Christopher Rouse (b. 1949)
14. Steven Stucky (b. 1949)
15. Libby Larsen (b. 1950)
16. Lois V Vierk (b. 1951)
17. John Zorn (b. 1953)
18. Michael Daugherty (b. 1954)
19. James Mobberley (b. 1954)
20. Bruce Adolphe (b. 1955)
21. Bright Sheng (b. 1955)
22. Richard Danielpour (b. 1956)
23. David Lang (b. 1957)
24. Sebastian Currier (b. 1959)
25. Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960)

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)