Review of Before Music: Where Instruments Come From

Before Music: Where Instruments Come From Before Music: Where Instruments Come From
by Annette Bay Pimentel; illus. by Madison Safer
Primary, Intermediate    Amulet/Abrams    88 pp.    g
5/22    978-1-4197-4555-3    $24.99
e-book ed.  978-1-6470-0696-9    $18.65

One person collects clay from the earth and shapes it into an ocarina; another finds metal ore deep in the ground and fashions it into a bell. In this richly illustrated and engaging exploration of the origins of musical instruments, each section focuses on a specific material, such as rocks, clay, gourds, silk, strings, or even human voices. Pimentel discusses how the material produces sound (i.e., the science of sound), lists instruments made from the material, and describes how they’re played and used in different cultures and ceremonies. Safer’s inviting watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations reflect the text’s emphasis on the connection between music and the human spirit. Occasional sidebars profile people who have changed the musical world through activism, creativity, and scientific discovery. The back matter includes selected sources, an explanatory note on organology and music classification systems, and ideas for making instruments at home.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Grace McKinney
Grace McKinney

Grace McKinney holds an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons University and reviews for the Horn Book Magazine. She works at a Montessori school in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes about children's books and Montessori on the blog Cosmic Bookshelf.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.