Before Music: Where Instruments Come From

Abrams. May 2022. 88p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781419745553.
Gr 4-7–Containing detailed information concerning the origins of musical instruments from around the world, this fascinating text details the materials they were constructed from, the processes involved in their creation, and the sounds they made. The content is organized by the natural materials used to create the instruments; from rocks to reeds. It is delivered in a whimsical tone that features poetic devices, such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, and word repetition. The narrative is supplemented with lists of related instruments, biographies of little-known musicians, and informational sidebars. The impressive watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil illustrations are reminiscent of primitive folk art and complement the book’s content perfectly. Unfortunately, once read, the newly learned facts are difficult to revisit because there is no glossary or table of contents. The back matter includes an explanation of organology, a listing of selected sources and attribution, and directions for making a musical instrument.
VERDICT Schools specializing in art and music may consider adding this book to the library’s collection on the merit of its fascinating content and appealing illustrations.

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