Music Ho!

Music Ho!Music Ho! : a study of music in decline

Submitter: Another gem from my developing nation academic library. I’m not actually weeding this one, but I thought your North American readers would get a kick out of the title.

Holly: Wow, this is a keeper in your library? It’s definitely seen better days! I’d be interested in knowing which developing nation, and what the criteria for weeding are in your library. I’m sure you have your reasons – just curious! Anyone want to offer up some better music history and music philosophy books to this library?



  1. I’ll leave it to some of the later commenters to supply the more obvious jokes.

    I’m not getting my IP address banned from this blog. No sir, not me.

  2. I’d bet she’s probably not weeding it because there are no books or money to replace it. The key words in his or her submission were “developing nation academic library“.

    1. Yes, I’d imagine that “developing nation” are the key words. I’m in much the same position in my library; I’ve already spent this year’s budget, and I’m relying on bake sales, fines and the book sale for the rest of the year. We have a giant stapler that we use daily as a book-rebinding machine. I hate shelving in certain sections of the stacks because of all the books I itch to weed. With frequent internet outages and our tiny budget, I try to keep items that still circulate occasionally, provided they do not actually bad information. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff is bad info. (See my submission, Cotton and the Spinner.) Working here has definitely given my an appreciation for the wealth of even the most cash-strapped libraries where I worked in the States.

  3. I’m in NA and I’m not sure what you mean about the title.
    The 1948 date makes me question how much it really has to say about the decline of music, since it predates the evils of rock ‘n’ roll by at least a year. I guess it really depends on it’s focus.

  4. Er, how is this awful? Lambert was a significant composer with links to the likes of William Walton and the Sitwells and choreographers such as Frederick Aston and Diaghilev. Plus these early Pelican books are much sought after. It might well not earn its place in issues in a community library in 2013 but a specialist music/drama library would welcome it. According to the Oxford University Press it is “a critique of the musical world in the 1930s, is still considered to be an important and idiosyncratic commentary on music at that time.” The title is a quotation from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when Titania and Oberon kiss and make up and she calls for music!

    1. 1: Age – it’s not going to cover a lot of music kids are interested in now.

      2: Condition – look at it, it looks like it’s barely holding together.

      3: Title – Like it or not, word meanings change, and “ho” is now a name for a whore or a prostitute.

      1. 1: Age – it’s not going to cover a lot of music kids are interested in now.

        Fair enough, but bear in mind that the 1920s-30s were awash with sex, drugs and rock and roll (well jazz anyway, which in its day was as, if not more, shocking than anything that happens in the music scene now!) so maybe things weren’t so different then. (Incidentally Lambert’s son was producer and manager for The Who and into all manner of questionable things!)
        I personally would hesitate before putting it in a school library unless the music / performing arts departments were very active and the prevailing curriculum allowed for some personal choice. It’s possible that in some schools a student might be working on a project on early C20th culture, but if the book is somewhere where this isn’t going to happen, move it along to somewhere where it might!

        2: Condition – look at it, it looks like it’s barely holding together.
        You’ve got me there!

        3: Title – Like it or not, word meanings change, and “ho” is now a name for a whore or a prostitute.

        Not here (UK) it isn’t! Is this book in America? How on earth does anyone over there manage with Shakespeare? He used the word all the time! As have many other writers, eg Charles Kingsley, PG Wodehouse, Father Christmas aka Santa Claus, (OK, he’s not a writer!) “Ho ho ho”. Is the old guy with a white beard who brings children presents calling for three prostitutes?? Oh dear, as George Bernard Shaw wrote “England and America are two countries separated by a common language”.

        Here are some prostitute words = prostitute, hooker (US, slang), tart (informal), streetwalker, tom (British, slang), brass (slang), slag (British, slang), hustler (US & Canadian, slang), call girl, courtesan, working girl (facetious & slang), harlot, loose woman, fallen woman, scrubber.

        “Tart” was the one most in use when I was growing up – I seem to remember having to be careful talking about eg jam tarts without provoking sniggers………Maybe in the USA “ho” produces similar sniggers now?

        Who knows? But the point surely is that you can’t write off 500 and more years of culture because of a (probably temporary) occurance of slang in one part of the word

  5. Interesting choice of cover art. They could’ve chosen something musical, or that reflects the intended audience … but went with a bird that symbolizes the name of the publisher (whose name and logo take up another third of the cover). Ooohkay then.

    1. All Pelican books had exactly the same cover design; only the title and author would be different from volume to volume. This is actually still a very readable book for anyone interested in the history of 20th century music – and very well-written, if I recall correctly.

  6. Constant Lambert was arguably the last truly great balletic composer, and this book is certainly still relevant. You might as well delete Shakespeare from the catalog.

  7. Commenter 2 is correct. We have no music program at our university, and thus we buy nothing in that subject. So there’s no reason to throw away any music history title if it at least covers the 19th or early 20th century since it’s better than nothing.

    Most of our paperbacks are in similar shape. The Pelican titles are good for what they are but man they look bad after 60+ years. 🙂

  8. Congratulations on your weeding project! It’s a sign that you have some funding for updating the collection!

  9. J, it’s not cover art, it’s the standard Pelican cover of that time. As another commenter said, early Pelicans are much sought after. This looks interesting, and Lambert sounds very interesting too. The title is a good example of how the meaning of words changes, and varies in different English-speaking countries – it would only raise eyes in America.

  10. I have all kinds of more updated than 1948 music and music theory books I could share. Whole encyclopedia sets in fact as recent as the early to mid 90s 🙂

  11. This entry made me scurry to find the book. Our earliest edition is from 1934, and it is a perfectly acceptable book of criticism. The title comes from a Shakespeare play and is the first line of the epigraph. The next (and last) line is “Let it alone; let’s to billiards.” Extra points if you can identify the play. Being BigStacks, I’m definitely going to keep this–it’s in better shape than the submitter’s, since we had it bound in 1944. It really is for the advanced musical historian/scholar, though. Most public libraries should skip this.

  12. I’m afraid I cheated and googled it – despite having seen the play which shall remain nameless several times I’d never have got it! I knew it from the Dream: makes me wonder how many more times Shakespeare recycled this line, which basically means “Play me some music!”

    1. Jeepers, some of you commenters sure have small frames of reference. Sure, the word has an impolite use, but that is not its only one. What about “Westward Ho!” the classic book by Charles Kingsley? And there was a movie of the same name, I think. What about that cliche that sailors supposedly say, “Land ho!”? Google tells me that there is even a town called Westward Ho in England, as well as a casino hotel in Las Vegas. So kwitcher sniggerin.

  13. I’ll note that the 1934 edition is available from Project Gutenberg Canada. It seems to be a moderately notable volume, and thus content-wise is not unreasonable for an academic library.

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