DK has launched a new series, "Eyewitness Companion Guides," that aims to familiarize lay readers with various subjects using the design of its popular "Eyewitness" travel guides. Following introductory chapters on the technical elements of music, the instruments, and a brief overview of performance, this entry on classical music follows the standard sequence of historical periods (early, Baroque, and so on). But what works well for travel-color codes, icons, graphics, and minimal text-does not necessarily transfer well to the arts. Although each page is attractive, the amount of information provided is frequently too abbreviated, e.g., the plots of two Bellini operas (I Capuleti e i Montecchi and La Sonnambula) are described in a total of five sentences. The 300 composer biographies are rarely more than short summaries (even Beethoven receives only a half page), some contain "facts" that have long been discredited, and the number of compositions described rarely exceeds five. Outside of the most famous composers, the lesser figures included tend to be heavily weighted toward the United Kingdom and the United States. Although the book's goal is both unique and admirable, its sound-bite approach renders it virtually useless; not recommended.-Timothy J. McGee, Hastings, Ont. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.