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Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise: Conversations with Steve Beresford

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub Date: 11th Feb. 2021

ISBN-13: 9781501366444 
312 pages

Steve Beresford's polymathic activities have formed a prism for the UK improv scene since the 1970s. He is internationally known as a free improviser on piano, toy piano and electronics, composer for film and TV, and raconteur and Dadaist visionary. His résumé is filled with collaborations with hundreds of musicians and other artists, including such leading improvisers as Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and John Zorn, and he has given performances of works by John Cage and Christian Marclay.

In this book, Beresford is heard in his own words through first-hand interviews with the author. Beresford provides compelling insight into an extensive range of topics, displaying the broad cultural context in which music is embedded. The volume combines chronological and thematic chapters, with topics covering improvisation and composition in jazz and free music; the connections between art, entertainment and popular culture; the audience for free improvisation; writing music for films; recording improvised music in the studio; and teaching improvisation. It places Beresford in the context of improvised and related musics – jazz, free jazz, free improvisation – in which there is growing interest. The linear narrative is broken up by 'interventions' or short pieces by collaborators and commentators.

Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Wittgenstein and 'On Certainty'

Publisher: Routledge
Pub Date: 1 Nov 2014
ISBN-10: 0415450764
ISBN-13: 9780415450768 
360 pages

Ludwig Wittgenstein is arguably the most important philosopher of the twentieth century. In On Certainty he discusses central issues in epistemology, including the nature of knowledge and scepticism. The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and On Certainty introduces and assesses:


  • Wittgenstein's career and the background to his later philosophy.
  • the central ideas and text of On Certainty, including its responses to G.E. Moore and discussion of fundamental issues in the theory of knowledge.
  • Wittgenstein's continuing importance in contemporary philosophy.


This GuideBook is essential reading for all students of Wittgenstein, and for those studying epistemology and philosophy of language. On Certainty, Wittgenstein's final work, addresses a category of "world-picture" propositions discovered by G.E. Moore. These challenge Wittgenstein's enduring commitment to a well-defined category of empirical propositions, and help to generate a critique of scepticism. Developing Wittgenstein's view that scepticism is self-undermining, theGuidebook offers a combative yet therapeutic interpretation that locates On Certainty between the standpoints of Kant and Hume.


"This unique and highly readable introduction sets Wittgenstein’s late text in its historical context and emphasises enduring themes running through his later philosophy. Using recent work on On Certainty, Hamilton provides his reader with a clear exposition of the work’s major themes, facilitating further engagement." – Bernhard Weiss, University of Cape Town, South Africa


"Wittgenstein wrote, "Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity… [of] clarification". He shows us paths from metaphysical abstraction to the more habitable, yet largely unrecognised, world of our everyday lives. But how does this therapeutic conception infuse the enigmatic epistemological writings known as On Certainty? As a guide, Hamilton is precisely the sort of reader Wittgenstein would have wanted, one fully engaged in thinking with, and against, the text. Hamilton’s Wittgenstein is a humanist who rejects the current orthodoxy that models philosophy on the natural sciences. By demonstrating the power of the text to stimulate his own thoughts, Hamilton encourages us to think with the text ourselves." - David Macarthur, Sydney University, Australia

Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art

Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Pub Date: 15 Oct 2007
ISBN-10: 0472032178
ISBN-13: 978-0472032174
320 pages


The preeminent altoist associated with the "cool" school of jazz, Lee Konitz was one of the few saxophonists of his generation to forge a unique sound independent of the influence of Charlie Parker. In the late 40s, Konitz began his career with the Claude Thornhill band, during which time he came into contact with Miles Davis, with whom he would later work on the legendary Birth of the Cool sessions. Konitz is perhaps best known through his association with Lennie Tristano, under whose influence much of his sound evolved, and for his work with Stan Kenton and Warne Marsh. His recordings have ranged from cool bop to experimental improvisation, and have appeared on such labels as Prestige, Atlantic, Verve, and Polydor. Crafted out of numerous interviews between the author and his subject, the book offers a unique look at the story of Lee Konitz's life and music, detailing Konitz's own insights into his musical education and his experiences with such figures as Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lennie Tristano, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, and Bill Evans.


“Meticulously researched, detailed and documented, this long awaited overview justly establishes Konitz as one of the most consistently brilliant, adventurous and original improvisers in the jazz tradition—a genius as rare as Bird himself.” —John Zorn


“Hamilton’s work may well mark the inception of a format new to writing on Western music, one which avoids both the self-aggrandizing of autobiography and the stylized subjectification of biography.” —The Wire


“An extraordinary approach to a biography, with the man himself speaking for extended sessions. The main vibration I felt from Lee’s words was total honesty, almost to a fault. Konitz shows himself to be an acute observer of the scene, full of wisdom and deep musical insights, relevant to any historical period regardless of style. The asides by noted musicians are beautifully woven throughout the pages. I couldn’t put the book down—it is the definition of a living history.” —David Liebman

Aesthetics and Music

Publisher: Bloomsbury Aesthetics
Pub Date: 29 Aug 2007
ISBN-10: 0826485197
ISBN-13: 9780826485199
258 pages


The Continuum Aesthetics Series looks at the aesthetic questions and issues raised by all major art forms. Stimulating, engaging and accessible, the series offers food for thought not only for students of aesthetics, but also for anyone with an interest in philosophy and the arts. Aesthetics and Music is a fresh and often provocative exploration of the key concepts and arguments in musical aesthetics. It draws on the rich heritage of the subject, while proposing distinctive new ways of thinking about music as an art form. The book looks at: 


  • The experience of listening 

  • Rhythm and musical movement 

  • What modernism has meant for musical aesthetics 

  • The relation of music to other 'sound arts' 

  • Improvisation and composition as well as more traditional issues in musical aesthetics such as absolute versus programme music and the question of musical formalism. 

Thinkers discussed range from Pythagoras and Plato to Kant, Nietzsche and Adorno. Areas of music covered include classical, popular and traditional music, and jazz. Aesthetics and Music makes an eloquent case for a humanistic, democratic and genuinely aesthetic conception of music and musical understanding. Anyone interested in what contemporary philosophy has to say about music as an art form will find this thought-provoking and highly enjoyable book required reading.


'A gifted philosopher, music critic and jazz performer, Andy Hamilton has produced a book which leaves neither the philosophy nor the music out. He guides us deftly through the aesthetics of Kant and Adorno without neglecting the reality of music as sound and rhythm, improvisation and composition, showing in an unusually open-minded, lively way - and in philosophical depth - how aesthetic experience is universal and human.' Professor John Skorupski, St Andrews University, UK


'An innovative, cross-disciplinary contribution to the philosophy of music, weaving Adorno's Critical Theory with Analytic aesthetics.' Professor Max Paddison, Durham University, UK


'With a fine eye for argument, for teasing out and testing key assumptions within the philosophy of music, Andy Hamilton's Aesthetics And Music charts a knife-edge course between scholarship, clear and penetrating thinking, and above all sound intuitions.' Stephen Robinson, The Wire, December 2007


'Aesthetics and Music is a rich and interesting study. Hamilton's approach is innovative ... [the book] should be recommended to anyone interested in the philosophy of music.'  Stephen Davies, University of Auckland, Analysis


'A deeply informed author thinking hard about the musical matters which he considers - with justification - to be the most important... a lively and stimulating contribution to a number of debates.' M.W. Rowe, British Journal of Aesthetics


'Hamilton has read widely, listened hard and had his own practical engagement with music as a jazz pianist, and there is much to be learned from his argument ... The range of Hamilton's interests, and his familiarity with modern, postmodern, and post-postmodern culture, help to support an argument that is far more interesting in its detail than can be conveyed in a short review. There is a freshness in his approach, and a pleasing disregard for pedantic controversies, that will surely attract new readers to a subject that has not always been as well served by its practitioners as it is served by Hamilton.' Roger Scruton, MIND


"The value of Aesthetics and Music lies in its producing the groundwork needed to present modern jazz as music worthy of Analytic philosophical treatment." Reviewed by Andrew McGettigan in Radical Philosophy, July 2008

The Self in Question

Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
Pub Date: 27 Sept 2013
ISBN-10: 1137290404
ISBN-13: 9781137290403
264 pages


The Self in Question offers a humanistic account of self-consciousness and personal identity, providing a much-needed rapprochement between Analytic and Phenomenological approaches to self-consciousness. In Analytic philosophy, a resurgence of interest in the topic of self-consciousness has been inspired by the work of Gareth Evans. Both Evans and his successors make the plausible assumption that self-consciousness is a capacity manifested in the use of "I", or through behaviour which must be described in terms of "I". The Self in Question develops this assumption through an analysis of Wittgenstein's insights into "I"-as-subject and self-identification, relating them – as their author did not – to the epistemology of memory and bodily awareness. As a result, it is able to discern the truth in the apparently discredited memory criterion of personal identity. It also draws on Husserl's and Merleau-Ponty's understanding of the body's significance for self-consciousness, to offer a critique of materialism about the body.


"Andy Hamilton's The Self in Question is a penetrating and refreshingly original work on the related topics of self-consciousness, memory, self-reference, and personal identity. It locates previously unrecognised connections between these topics, and its discussion of conceptual holisms is particularly important. Hamilton carves out a distinctive and plausible position covering a wide range of key topics in epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language, and he does so in a way that will be useful to readers both inside and outside the Analytic tradition." – Stephen Braude, University of Maryland, USA


Penultimate proof copy available here 

Scruton's Aesthetics

Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan

Co-editor: Nick Zangwill
Pub Date: 7 Aug 2012
ISBN-10: 0230251684
ISBN-13: 9780230251687
344 pages


Scruton's Aesthetics is a comprehensive critical evaluation of one of the major aestheticians of our age. The opening chapter by Roger Scruton is followed by fourteen essays from leading names in aesthetics from across the globe. The book showcases the best recent work dedicated to assessing the impact and significance of Scruton's aesthetics. The contributors offer critical analysis of his vast body of work, to which Scruton himself replies in a final chapter.

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