Monday: Theory and Technique
Wednesday: Repairs and DIY
Thanks to all my smart and cool readers who contributed to the first (maybe annual?) Tonefiend Book Week! I loved chatting about some old favorite books, and getting exposed to so many cool new ones.
I have just two quick additions: the first concerns an exciting new acquaintance, and the other a sad departure.
In comments to Tuesday’s post on DIY and repair books, reader smgear mentioned Nice Noise, a book on prepared guitar by Bart Hopkin and Yuri Landman. I immediately ordered a copy, and received it the other day. I’m blown away. It’s a small-format book, a mere 72 pages, but it is a veritable encyclopedia of alternate guitar treatments.
Hopkin (he edited the journal Experimental Musical Instruments and wrote the fabulous alternate instrument books Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones and Orbitones, Spoon Harps & Bellowphones) and Landman (he builds mutant guitars for Sonic Youth, Liars, Melt Banana, and other artists) discuss pretty much every avant-garde guitar mod I’ve ever heard of, and many besides. It’s not just a catalog — it’s a detailed how-to, meant to be consumed alongside the pair’s online audio library of musical examples. I’m sure you’ll be reading about it more here, because I’m definitely going inflict some of these rad alterations on some unwitting guitars.
An a sadder note, the death of Scotland’s Iain Banks this weekend reminded me of a book that should have been inclued in Friday’s installment on musical fiction. Both funny and moving, his 1987 novel, Espedair Street, is simply one of the finest rock-and-roll novels ever. Its protagonist is a fabulously successful rock star (think Floyd or Fleetwood Mac in their prime) who must process his own past while grappling with the prospect of suicide.
Readers in the UK, where Banks is hugely popular, may be surprised to learn he’s strictly a cult figure in the States. While Espedair Street is his only work to focus on the music world, he wrote many fine novels marked by wry humor and vast empathy. (The Crow Road and Whit are two other favorites of mine.) He also wrote scads of science fiction under the name Iain M. Banks. Banks, 57, had only recently learned he was dying of cancer. In April he composed a final communique to his readers, writing:
I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps). By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us.