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A virtuosic debut from a gifted violinist searching for a new mode of artistic becoming
How does time shape consciousness and consciousness, time? Do we live in time, or does time live in us? And how does music, with its patterns of rhythm and harmony, inform our experience of time?
Uncommon Measure explores these questions from the perspective of a young Korean American who dedicated herself to perfecting her art until performance anxiety forced her to give up the dream of becoming a concert solo violinist. Anchoring her story in illuminating research in neuroscience and quantum physics, Hodges traces her own passage through difficult family dynamics, prejudice, and enormous personal expectations to come to terms with the meaning of a life reimagined—one still shaped by classical music but moving toward the freedom of improvisation.
Natalie Hodges has performed as a classical violinist throughout Colorado and in New York, Boston, Paris, and the Italian Piedmont, as well as at the Aspen Music Festival and the Stowe Tango Music Festival. She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she studied English and music, and currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. Uncommon Measure is her first book.
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“Uncommon and genre-defying.” —Alexandra Jacobs, New York Times
“Incandescent.” —Kat Chow, New York Times Book Review
“Hodges undertakes a captivating study of the science of time—physics and music—in this very special memoir that defies categorization.” —NPR
“[Uncommon Measure] will resonate with both music and science lovers alike, who will appreciate the bridges Hodges draws between scientific disciplines, music theory and her life.” —Shi En Kim, Smithsoniam Magazine
“Hodges considers the elemental truth pulsating beneath our experience of music and of our very lives.” —Maria Popova, Marginalian
“This is one those rare books that inspires one to go back time and again to re-read a sentence simply because of the elegance and penetrating insight with which it is written. . . . Unputdownable.” —Julian Haylock, The Strad
“Uncommon Measure is a memoir in essays, but twists the genre by infusing it with neuroscience, physics and intoxicating descriptions of music. . . . Relatable and elegant. . . . An enchanting look into the world of classical music and beyond.” —Hana Zittel, Birdy magazine
“With carefully wrought lyricism, Hodges provides music history and mature insight.” —Martha Anne Toll, Electric Literature
“Uncommon Measure is an uncommon book, both in topic and technique. . . . I couldn’t help falling in love with Natalie Hodges’ bittersweet nostalgia, dry wit, and seductive, ‘backstage pass’ point of view.” —Grace Utomo, International Examiner
“Korean American violinist Hodges debuts with a literary mosaic of invention, inquiry, and wonder that interrogates classical music, quantum entanglement, the Tiger Mother stereotype, and the fluidity of time. . . . In restrained yet lyrical prose, Hodges . . . offer[s] a luminous meditation on the ways in which art, freedom, and identity intertwine. This impresses at every turn.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Masterful. . . . [Hodges’s] writing is deeply intelligent and exquisitely personal, expertly balancing emotional vulnerability with trenchant analysis, and her lyrical prose and clarity of thought render each page a pleasure to read.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Bridge[s] the time-space continuum in musical terms. . . . A book to savor.” —Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“A dazzling look at memory and the universe. . . . Hodges ponders these puzzles with intellectual depth, unique perspectives, and an artistic, eloquent, and inspiring voice.” —Booklist
“Poignant. . . . [Uncommon Measure] makes a valuable contribution to the ever-expanding universe of works addressing science and music.” —Library Journal
“Natalie Hodges is a musician with a poet’s soul and a writer with a musician’s heart. Her prose partita, Uncommon Measure, is an extraordinary translation of music, devotion, and sorrow into the literary, recounting her relinquishment of a performance career and her continued love of music. In these pages, if no longer on the stage, she is brilliantly making us hear.” —Susan Faludi, author of Backlash and In the Darkroom
“Uncommon Measure is astonishingly assured and inventive. Mixing personal reflection, reportage, literary criticism, music theory, neurology, even evolutionary studies, Hodges has pulled off something singular and wonderful. From the first page to the last, the book rides on the high wire of Hodges’s virtuosic voice. It is shot through with a sinuous, luminous energy.” —Darcy Frey, author of The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams
“There is not a sentence in Hodges’s Uncommon Measure that does not illumine, not a single insight that doesn’t lead on to a still greater one, not a moment that does not open us to wonder. In searching and visionary prose, Hodges comes close to creating a new language, one of continual questioning and delight. This is an exquisite book to be read and reread, a treasure.” —Richard Hoffman, author of Half the House and Love & Fury
“Hodges is a new, valuable voice in the world of music making and music writing. She moves with elegance from her own experience as a violinist to the scientific underpinnings of her subject: from math, physics, and neurology to quantum mechanics, biology, and entanglement theory. Uncommon Measure is a welcome debut from a wonderfully talented writer.” —Annik LaFarge, author of Chasing Chopin