Summer Reading List for Music BMus Offer Holders

Picture from Unsplash

Wondering whether there are things you could be reading or watching to help you prepare for starting a music degree?

Whether you’re still deciding which offer to accept or are already looking forward to joining us at King’s in September, we’ve come up with a list of resources to help you make the most of the coming weeks and months. So if you’re searching for some thought-provoking summer reading and watching on a whole variety of musical topics, look no further!

Everything listed below should be relatively accessible, even under lockdown. Some of these items are free online resources. Others you’ll need to buy if you’d like to read them complete (though you’ll be able to preview parts of most on Googlebooks). We’ve used the following system to show roughly what they cost from online booksellers (and bear in mind that second-hand copies are often indistinguishable from new ones, but much cheaper!):

(Key: £ (c. £5 or less); ££ (£5-£10); £££ (£10-£20)


  • Anna Beer, Sounds and Sweet Airs. The Forgotten Women of Classical Music (London: Oneworld, 2016) – £
  • Nicholas Cook, Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) – £
  • Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker, A History of Opera: The First 400 Years (London: Allen Lane, 2012) – £££
  • David Hesmondhalgh, Why Music Matters(Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) – £££
  • Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise: Listening in the Twentieth Century (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) – £££
  • FREE: Tom Service’s “Guide to Contemporary Classical Music” for The Guardian:


  • Philip Bohlman, World Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) – £
  • Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (London: Bloomsbury, 2015) – ££ [NB this isn’t a book specifically about music but will be extremely helpful for any ethnomusicology module you take in future]
  • Aneesh Pradhan, Chasing the Raag Dream: A Look Into the World of Hindustani Classical Music (New Delhi: HarperCollins India, 2019) – ££
  • FREE: Lou Boyd, “How Jazz Became the Soundtrack of a Modern, Multicultural London”
  • FREE: Nicholas Magriel’s open access film series Growing Into North Indian Art Music

Finally, if you want to brush up on music theory, Eric Taylor’s The Associated Board Guide to Music Theory Parts I and II­ will take you from the basics through to Grade 8 level – £

Read More:

If you enjoyed this post, check out Rita’s post on “Top 5 favourite things about my Music Bachelor at King’s”.

Click here to find out more about the Music BMus at King’s.

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