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Music Reference Books
These are the staples of music history textbooks. Grout's A History of Western Music is the standard college textbook for undergraduate music history courses, while Abraham's Concise Oxford History of Music provides a lengthy one-volume alternative. Lang's Music in Western Civilization is also a remarkably comprehensive and slightly more scholarly history of the development of music. While all three require passing familiarity with reading music, they are generally accessible to non-music students. All three complement each other.