Vivid Publishing - Book Publishers Australia

Heresies of Music

Patrick Brislan

An A-Z diagnostic guide

What is Lisztomania, and how was it cured? Who was Drog, and what was his prophecy regarding Electronic Music? What preparation do you need before throwing an artistic tantrum? Which orchestral musicians are also qualified to run a hospital?

The plausible answers to these and many other tantalising questions can be found in this wickedly funny – and occasionally just wicked – book.

The many commonly-used descriptions of some of the best known identities and institutions of music are ‘diagnosed’ to reveal something very different from the accepted truths about such icons. Conductors, music critics, composers, radio presenters, singers, pianists and others are shown in a very different light. These alternate views, or ‘heresies’ are assembled conveniently in alphabetical order. Under U is for Understudy for example, can be found a variety of different reasons why understudies, far from being hailed as saviours, are so widely disliked.

Because music critics will probably be discomfited by what they find inside, it is extremely unlikely any will choose to review this book. The author has been compelled therefore to write his own critical quotes.

Here are some favourable ones:
‘… A wonderful collection of truths, and almost all are inconvenient’.
‘… Something here to offend everyone’.
‘… Everything from burlesque to parody, and with a sprinkling of serious commentary to confound the believers’.

In the interest of balance however, here are some quotes from reviews which might have been written by others less inclined to view Heresies favourably. Again, the author has undertaken this task on their behalf:
“…a random assortment of schoolboy jokes. Possibly enjoyable for those who like juvenile humour – assuming they find it funny at all.”
“The attempts at serious commentary are laughable, while the so-called heretical viewpoints are the unfunny fancies of a feeble mind.”
“… Betrays an underlying resentment – disguised as ‘heresy’ – of those of eminence and achievement in music’s historical record.”

Hmm. Can they all be right?


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P.O. Box 948, Fremantle 6959
Western Australia


About the Author

Patrick Brislan - author

Patrick Brislan has had a long career as Lecturer and an Associate Dean at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and was previously a professional musician for 15 years.

Since 2001 he has been an education consultant for various organizations in Australia and Korea. During this time he has also volunteered with the Australian Youth Orchestra as alumni co-ordinator.

He now serves as a senior advisor to Cross Cultural Networks, an organization assisting international student exchanges between China and the United States





LOUDMOUTH (The Music Trust E-Zine)
Review by Ann Carr Boyd, JULY 30, 2017

"For anyone wishing to experience an entertaining and at the same time very alternative look into the world of classical music, this is the book for you – especially if you are familiar with this world and enjoy anything from Rossini to Opera in the Vineyard. Some of it you may find infuriating (de-bunking the orchestral music of Rachmaninov for example) but then we need books with these very personal ideas to make us react and think, rather than placidly be fed with information from the internet.."
Read full review here.


Limelight magazine, November 2017

“The wickedly funny Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide ‘diagnoses’ many commonly-used descriptions of some of the best known identities and institutions of music to reveal something very different from the accepted truths about such icons.”



Stringendo Magazine (Australian Strings Association)
Review by Mary Nemet, p71, Vol. 39, No.1, April 2017

“A wonderful collection of truths, and almost all are inconvenient”.
There is an underlying seriousness to Patrick Brislan’s book which can otherwise be viewed as an irreverent romp through some of music’s more absurd beliefs.
It left me questioning a few commonly-held dogmas that have been unsuspectingly passed down through generations of musicians, teachers and students.
Dispelling entrenched myths, Brislan tells us that there is no ‘cycle of Bartok’s string quartets’ that the future of Batons is in doubt, that Contemporary music is a compound word consisting of con and temporary. Music criticism, electronic music and improvisation also come under his candid scrutiny.
He unearths a plethora of hyperbole, hypocrisy and pretentions nonsense; for example, he dismisses “Even the characteristically unburnished Klemperer sound seemed essentially Beethovenian”, as pure semantics, designed to impress with the incontestable authority of the critic.
Brislan has succinct and witty things to say about the Doctors’ Orchestra, Understudies, Temperament, and the Sydney International Piano Competition. As for Opera in the Vineyard, Brislan dubs it, “Outdoor Concert Kitsch Experiment Replacing the Stage” (OCKERS).
In short, Brislan takes the lid off the mysteries of folklore and double standards in music.
This is no rancorous attack; his forthright book offers an alternative view of the real ailment afflicting so much of the music world.
I found this an enlightening, enjoyable and above all, thought-provoking read.



Review Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed By Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite

Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide by Patrick Brislan is a book that will appeal to music aficionados. It’s a hilarious book that dissects facts about the traditions of music, great musical figures, singers and composers, concepts, and a lot of what people have come to believe in the music culture. From ideas on the treatment of Lisztomania to Drog’s prophecy about Electronic Music, the author lifts the veil to reveal his own truths about the institutions and traditions of music. This is the kind of book that will be disturbing to some, entertaining to others, and revealing to the many with very little knowledge about what goes on behind the music scenes.

Patrick Brislan is a master entertainer who seems to have invested a lot of time in researching this book, but what makes it hilarious is the wit and the humor that are blended together to create an interesting read. I found Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide to be more than a work of entertainment because it informs the reader on a variety of topics in the music industry. Organized in an alphabetical order, the book contains powerful commentaries, anecdotes, and a critique of the many traditions in the music world. In the introduction, the author writes: “Despite the pejorative connotations of its name — and hence its reputation — heresy in fact serves some worthwhile purposes. Heresy challenges, and thereby threatens, orthodoxy. It hastens the decay of myths, lifts veils from mysteries, and provides some alternate clothing for naked emperors.” And this is what this book is all about: heresies of music. Readers will enjoy the terse tone, the excellent writing, and the unbridled humor.



Review Rating: 4 stars

Reviewed By Tracy Slowiak for Readers’ Favorite

In an interesting and rather unusual new work by author Patrick Brislan, Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide, readers will be treated to a unique compendium of information specifically devoted to those interested in the field of music. Each letter of the alphabet represents one or more musical terms, for example "A is for Announcer" or "U is for Understudy." In turn, author Brislan provides his definition for each term as well as a commentary on the role that term plays in the musical world. Written in a humorous fashion, this guide will either leave its readers in stitches or infuriated, depending on their viewpoint. If a reader is a traditional, conservative and stodgy music lover, entrenched in the old ways of musical appreciation, this book might not be for them, but for everyone else, this just might be a real hit!

Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide is truly a unique piece of work, one that I can honestly say, as a voracious reader, that I have not come across before. Author Patrick Brislan has an unusual and fun way of expressing himself, an interesting viewpoint on all things music related and a great literary style. Again, one needs to have a good sense of humor to read this guide, but if a reader has that, they are very likely to enjoy this book thoroughly. I am pleased to be able to recommend Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide and look forward to reading more from author Patrick Brislan in the future!



Review Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed By Gisela Dixon for Readers’ Favorite

Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide by Patrick Brislan is a lighthearted take on the inside workings of the music industry and the field of classical music, whether that relates to the art of music itself, musicians, the performances, instruments, or just the people associated with the industry including fans. Heresies of Music starts off on a light, humorous, and somewhat sarcastic note, and continues in that vein for the most part. The book is broken down into chapters, one for each letter of the alphabet as it relates to a particular topic from the world of music, such as T for temperament, D for diva, Q for quartet, etc.

Heresies of Music: An A-Z Diagnostic Guide by Patrick Brislan is a book than music lovers may enjoy. It is not a book that is meant to be taken seriously, although a lot of the descriptions in the book do contain a grain of truth in the humor. That being said, Heresies of Music does contain a lot of technical musical terms and terminologies that the lay person may or not know of. Overall, I enjoyed the book, some parts more than others. The chapter on temperament is quite hilarious and I found myself reading that one twice. The writing style is very fluid and readable, and makes for a fun, lighthearted read sprinkled with jokes, sarcasm, exaggeration, and some truth. All in all, this is a book that is meant to be read without taking anything too seriously and classical music fans will especially enjoy it.







Heresies of Music: An A-Z diagnostic guide by Patrick Brislan
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ISBN: 978-1-925515-48-0
Format: Paperback C 229mm x 152mm
Extent: 294 pages
RRP: $24.95 paperback / $4.99 ebook
Publisher: Vivid Publishing
Category: Music / Criticism / Parodies & Humour
Distribution: Contact Vivid




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