Emz’s Library: The New American Dictionary of Music

Writers must have reference material, and here is one of my favorites.

The New American Dictionary of  Music, by Philip D. Morehead

musicdicWhen I was training to be a jazz singer, I would have loved to have this book in my library. In fact, when I was in high school, I took a dictionary and went page by page, writing my own musical dictionary, listing every word in the English language that had to do with music. I also had an old-fashioned recipe box with index cards for all the great jazz masters of history. At the same time, I was writing my Sweet Dreams Musical Romance novels. For me, if I was interested in something, I would submerge myself in the subject. I know a lot of writers who do the same thing. I’m not sure you can be a writer without loving research.

When I came across this musical dictionary a few years ago, I thought I might have misread the spine. In no way could someone read my internal desires and create a book such as this! Not only does this book have detailed definitions of my favorite words such as allegro and madrigal, but it lists the names of every great musician from Armstrong  to Zwilich. There are diagrams of commonly used musical instruments as well as bagpipes and dulimers. There are diagrams of conducting patterns as well as graphic notations made popular in the 1950’s.

I could sit and read this book for hours on end. It’s really a must-have for anyone writing a musical book. Not for the purpose of boring your readers with long descriptions of 1800’s operatic stars or little known instruments of the alps, but to submerse yourself in the knowledge and culture of music. Sprinkling in the terms you learn here and there will be helpful and might add a sense of reality to your text.

Now… If only I could find a dictionary of artists terms!

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