Breaking the Sound Barrier

An Argument for Mainstream Literary Music

John Winsor once said “Writing and composing engage my mind in a way that nothing else does” and in his ‘Breaking the Sound Barrier’ Winsor takes us with him as indulges in both his passions. In his usual stellar writing he manages to pose thought-provoking questions without being too technical.

On his quest to demystify music Winsor suggests new music that adheres to the mainstream literary tradition should recover its place in American concert halls.

He argues that this can be achieved through changes in government funding guidelines and in the fields of music education and criticism.

Arguments about musical aesthetics often degenerate into “shouting matches that end in stalemate. In Breaking the Sound Barrier, John Winsor clears the air by presenting evidence that some works are, in fact, objectively better than others.

“Music is not simply “organized sound” as some modernists have proposed. It is the use of sound to represent biological rhythm. As such, it is audibly rhythmic and hierarchical.”

This is a particularly timely issue because a great deal of bad music is being performed in American concert halls right now and a great deal of good music isn’t. If you believe that qualitative judgment in the arts is purely subjective, this book should persuade you to rethink your position. If, on the other hand, you think there is a genuine qualitative difference between one musical work and another, this book will provide you with relevant ammunition. Winsor defines music, presents some empirical evidence from the field of music psychology, relates that evidence to events in Western music history, and explains what works and what doesn’t and why. He demonstrates that from the advent of notation to the present, music has, in fact, progressed and not merely changed. He then exposes some major errors in modernist and postmodernist writing that have disrupted music’s progress and recommends remedial action for restoring the mainstream literary tradition.

About the Author

John Winsor is an awarding winning author and composer. He has taught at the Armed Forces School of Music and the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. He serves on the board of the National Association of Composers, USA. He has received national and international composition awards and grants from the American Music Center and Meet the Composer.

John Winsor

His awards include a bronze medal from ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards (2003), iUniverse Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice awards (2004, 2005), the Modern Music Festival 2000 Film Scoring Prize, VMTA Commissioned Composer Awards (1992, 1994, 2005, 2012), Delius Vocal (1992) and Keyboard (1995) Category Awards, grants from the American Music Center and Meet the Composer, JPF Classical Orchestral Album Award (2006), and 17 ASCAP Plus Awards.

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