Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Welcome to ReviewBox Brasil, your internet review site. In today's text, you will find tips to buy the best music books available in the market and that fit your need.

Whether you're looking to venture into a new instrument, study music theories, or learn more about your favorite artist or band, we'll help you make the best possible music book choice.


  • Music books have several subdivisions, including musical genre, reference, biographies and autobiographies.
  • The purpose of reading, which musical genre you favour and which instrument you are interested in playing are some of the features to consider when buying.
  • The Beatles, Beethoven, Anitta, Rita Lee, Tim Maia, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Elza Soares are some of the names of music that have won books based on their lives and works.

The Best Music Books: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Music books have various purposes and divisions, and can attract readers from many different walks of life, from those passionate about the art as a whole, musicians, or even specific fans of a particular artist or musical style.

To help you better understand this segment of literature and all that it embraces, we have put together this Buying Guide.

Foto de uma loja de itens musicais, incluindo vários vinis, livros, fitas, bonecos, camisas, entre outros.

There are musical books dedicated to the compositions (lyrics and melody) of great artists and bands. (Source: Mick Haupt / Unsplash)

What are music books?

Music books work with all the attributions of the musical area and everything related to the musical universe.

They work from the history of musical genres, artist biographies, books telling the trajectory of some movement or band/artist, theories, instruction and even fictional novels with musical themes.

Because of this, music books can please many different audiences, whether for those in search of a more casual reading or those who are obstinate to know more in depth the theories.

What are the best known authors of music books?

There are several prominent authors within the genre, but who specialise in a particular type of literature.

For example, Geoff Dyer is an English novelist and is responsible for All That Jazz, one of the leading books on the musical rhythm, blending essay and fiction from much historical research.

In Brazil, Almir Chediak and Nelson Faria are highlights in the genre.

Brazilians Almir Chediak and Nelson Faria are good examples of authors of books on musical instruments.

The American Michael Pilhofer, the Austrian Arnold Schönberg and the Czech Bohumil Med are great names among the theoretical authors.

Another notable name is that of Brazilian Nelson Motta, who has written books on Brazilian music history such as 101 Canções Que Tocaram o Brasil and also musical biographies such as Vale Tudo: O som e a fúria de Tim Maia.

Did you know that Nelson Motta, as well as being a writer, is also a composer and music producer? He wrote songs like "Bem Que Se Quis" (by Marisa Monte), "Como Uma Onda" (by Lulu Santos) and "Dancing Days" (by As Frenéticas).

What are the subdivisions of music books?

Within music books, there are subdivisions that give more distinction between the proposals of each work. Below, we will explain them to you.

  • Musical genres: There are several of them in music itself, but in the literature you'll find them divided more often by lullabies, classical, jazz, popular and rock.
  • History and criticism: These copies tell part of the history of music, either of specific genres such as jazz and samba, until movements and events, besides being able to bring a critical look to them, essays and lists, for example.
  • Instruments and interpreters: This section is more related to the teaching part. Here you will come across works (guides, courses) which help you master the technical/practical part of string, brass and wind instruments, as well as copies specifically focused on compositions of an artist (from Beethoven to Roberto Carlos) or a musical genre (pop, rock, classical).
  • Biographies and autobiographies of composers and musicians: These are books that tell the story of an artist or band, either by third parties or by themselves.
  • Reference: These are books that compile information on a certain topic. Within music books they can be, for example, works about alternative rock, the best records to listen before dying, or samba schools.
  • Theory, composition and performance: these are books more focused on musical theories. There is also room for books containing lyrics and explanations of the composition process, as well as others on how to play a particular instrument.

In the following table, we bring some works from each subdivision to help illustrate them better:

Subdivision Examples of works
Musical genre The Book of Classical Music, The Beatles, Furacão Anitta
History and criticism 101 Canções Que Tocaram o Brasil, Popular Music: do gramofone ao rádio e TV, Social History of Jazz
Instruments and performers Ukulele Para Leigos, Beethoven's Songs and Thoughts, Practical Manual of Scales
Biographies and autobiographies B.B.B.King - The Autobiography: A Life of Blues, Vale Tudo: The Sound and Fury of Tim Maia, Elza
Reference 1001 Records To Listen To Before You Die, Novos Baianos: The Story of the Group That Changed MPB, O Século Do Ritmo
Theory, Composition and Performance Music Theory. Vademecum of Music Theory, Harmony, Bob Dylan - Lyrics (1961-1974)

Can I learn to play an instrument from music books?

It may seem hard to believe, but yes, it is possible to learn to play instruments from music books.

There are books with lessons and theories about certain instruments that allow you to get started playing, from piano to guitar, ukulele to keyboard.

Purchase Criteria: What to consider before buying music books

For you to make a conscious purchase, sure of what you are purchasing, we bring here some points you need to know before deciding which of the music books is right for your needs.

  • Purpose of reading
  • Musical genre
  • What instrument
  • Experience

We will talk in the next few paragraphs in more detail about each of them.

Purpose of reading

Before you make your purchase, you need to keep in mind what the purpose of your reading is.

Do you want to know more about a particular artist or your favourite band? Who knows more about Bossa Nova or the birth of Jazz? Or do you want to learn how to play an instrument?

Once you have established what you want from reading, you can move on with your search.

Um homem está sentado em uma cadeira de escritório, usando um headphone, enquanto lê um livro.

1001 Discos To Hear Before Dying and O Século Do Ritmo are examples of music reference books. (Source: João Geraldo Borges Júnior / Pixabay)

Musical genre

The musical genre is also an important criterion when it comes to your purchase. If you are not a fan of rock, your interest in works that speak of the history of the genre or some band of the musical style will not be so great.

If you don't like rap, for example, does it make sense to have a book about the compositions of Racionais MC's?

By choosing which genre interests you, whether it's classical music or country music, you can refine your search and continue your search for the perfect book.

Which instrument

For those who want to learn to play an instrument from music books, you must first check which works are available that offer the lessons for you to learn such an instrument.

This step may not seem so relevant, but it is. After all, not all instruments can be taught by a book.

Once you have done this check, you can go a step further in your purchase.

 Um violão e um livro de música com partituras musicais estão em cima de um banco de madeira.

It is possible to learn to play some instruments from music books, such as piano and guitar. (Source: Conger Design / Pixabay)


On this item, you have to be honest with yourself. Not all music books whose aim is to teach you how to play are for beginners. Therefore, there is no point in picking up a book for advanced if you don't know the basics of the instrument yet.

There are books focused on people with more experience in certain instruments, such as books on piano improvisation.

However, there are a lot of these books which target inexperienced people who want to start playing. Once you know what your level is with the instrument, you can choose your book more precisely.

(Featured image source: Michael Maasen / Unsplash)