Vintage Finds: Musicians Around the World

Burgin Streetman
August 5, 2016

Connoisseurs of midcentury illustration can't get enough of Richard Erdoes, and perusing these pages, it is easy to see why. Published in 1973 and currently out-of-print, Musicians Around the World is a pictorial journey across the musical landscape of the globe. From America to Africa and Europe to Asia, there are bagpipes piping, harpists harping, cavemen drumming and mariachis... well, mariaching... right up to a Sgt. Pepper-esque band jamming out, big time.

If you're Hip
you dig the Big Beat.
It's what's happening all over the world.
The rock guitar is king.
Electric blast,
pounding beat,
flashing lights,
plenty of heat.
That's where it's at.

Young people in Japan swing to rokku-roru. Girls in Bali "move to the music of the gamelan orchestra." In the Caribbean, "steel bands beat out a lively calypso tune." Since I am hoping to plant the musical seed in my kid, this one is a big winner for me. Not only is the book culturally vast, but it has introduced a ton of instruments into my son's lexicon that he would have otherwise never known about. Forget junior getting stuck with the tuba in band... how about the singing saw, conch trumpets and tinkly tubes? Peter Gabriel and David Byrne better watch out. There's a new world music lover on the scene!

Two more books—Policemen Around the World and Peddlers and Vendors Around the World—complete Erdoes' around-the-world trilogy. Keeping my eagle eyes out for those two cast into a Goodwill bin!

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