Ideas and Styles in the Western Musical Tradition offers a clear and readable study of Western music history, reaching from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century. It approaches music as a part of culture, placing musicians, their works, and their activities into their contemporaneous frameworks of ideas, artistic milieu, and social milieu. It shows how the diverse intellectual environments for music manifested themselves in musical styles. It traces, in a fascinating narrative, the variety of changing conditions within which people composed, played and sang, or listened to music. At the same time it demonstrates how, in those contexts, musicians solved their practical, day-to-day problems.
The discussion incorporates newly translated quotations of poetry and writings by musicians. Illustrations represent the artistic principles that music shared with other arts, many less familiar instruments, and the settings for music in its historical contexts. Music examples and diagrams show style developments as they are introduced. A timeline allows readers to situate musicians and musical works in relation to political history and the other arts. The accompanying website provides a variety of material to instructors and students, including especially correlation guides to lead readers to many musical works that represent the ideas and styles discussed.