Spitzer isn’t afraid of using a sweeping statement or a corny line, and his fractal compositional technique means he has to make do without the narrative thrust of a conventional, linear argument. But The Musical Human is full of delightful nuggets and sends the reader back to a world of musical examples time and time again.
After following the evolution of music over 165m years, he greets the contemporary split between professional performers and passive consumers with little more than a shrug: “We are where we are, and it is where it is.” If music is as central to human existence as he suggests, we can’t leave musicians dancing to the tune of Deliveroo.
It is full of learning and interesting thoughts. Anyone who thinks music is something which reaches its logical peak when played by highly-trained performers in black tie in dark, hushed concert halls is well rebuked by his understanding of sophisticated musical traditions in many cultures. Just because colonialism pushed them aside doesn’t mean they were inferior.