Biography and Memoir: picks from our latest newsletter

Some picks from our May Biography and Memoir newsletter:

Cover: Love with a Chance of Drowning Cover: Comandante Cover: First They Killed My Father Cover: One from the Hart Cover: Not Your Ordinary Housewife Cover: A Street Cat Named Bob Cover: In the Ring Cover: Wave Cover: Mom & Me & Mom

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight from your inbox.

For more great biographies and memoirs, check out our lists of winners of  the Costa Biography Award.

Make your own New Zealand music

Experimental musicians love their self created instruments. I recently listened to a composer on National Radio describing how he used all the glasses in his house to create three octaves of notes which he then used to create a fragile sounding theme for a composition.

However, long before the experimental movement, making your own instrument already had a long history, especially among the marginalised and repressed. Wash boards, jugs and homemade percussion instruments spring to mind.

Dictatorships are famous for banning music of various kinds -for example Cuba’s Castro has made a habit of this throughout his rule. These days they apparently get around it by swapping flash drives. In the past it was done by inventing new instruments. In Peru for example, a percussion instrument called the Cajon is popularly thought to have been invented when African slave drums were outlawed. The same thing has been repeated in many other places around the world.

Early blues musicians often made their instruments from whatever was at hand because they couldn’t afford to buy them. Cigarbox guitars are a wonderful example of what can eventually evolve from using what is at hand.

You can try your hand at doing the same thing with the help of the many books in our collection on making your own musical instruments. It is a fun activity to do with the kids and a great outlet for your creativity.