It's hard to top the personalized quality of an iTunes gift card, which allows loved ones to legally download all those songs that they've already pirated. But if you believe thought really does count, here are a few suggestions that are sure to satisfy even the most picky or pedantic music enthusiast, from scavenged items to bank-busters.
For the jazz fan: Blue Note: the Jazz Photography of Francis Wolff ($59.95). Blue Note is the most iconic jazz label, having recorded definitive albums by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey and many, many more. This classic collection of archival prints taken between 1941 and 1968 by Wolff, the album's co-founder, is a must for jazz and photography fans alike.
For the punk fan: Just Kids, by Patti Smith ($16). The "Godmother of Punk" won the 2010 National Book Award for her memoir, which gives insight into the New York punk rock movement of the 1970s and devotes considerable time to her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
For the classical fan whose library is already overflowing: Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart: Chamber Music for Strings, 1787-1791 (Oxford Studies in Music Theory) by Danuta Mirka ($55). Confession: I have not yet read this book, largely because I've been waiting for a more focused discussion on 1780s metric manipulations, especially those relative to Prof. Harald Kreb's theory of metrical dissonance.
Instruments, small and large:
For the Americana fan on a budget: Look no further than the kitchen drawer. Two spoons is all it takes to further the career of your favorite not-so-musical musician. Just make sure the pair is matched to give off that alluring tambour associated with this most challenging of musical devices.
For those willing to invest in their teen's inner musical genius: Investigate the vast world of keytars. Like a guitar with no strings, this keyboard with a neckstrap is cool enough that even Herbie Hancock is willing to be seen playing one in public. The Alesis Vortex model can be yours for the low price of $299.99
When money is no object: What small lad or lass wouldn't shriek with delight upon unwrapping a brand-new gamelan? This collection of Indonesian instruments (recently showcased at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design) includes xylophone, metallophone, brass drums and gongs, wooden flutes and more. With a little practice, your tyke could become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of…the gamelan.
If none of these ideas excite you, why not support your local music center: Candyman Strings & Things recently opened a gift shop inside the store, with everything from apparel to kitchenware and kitsch. Holiday items and local crafts are also available.
On top of that, any one of their featured instrument packages is sure to please the whole family—just don't forget to sign up for lessons while you're there.
CANDYMAN STRINGS & THINGS
851 St. Michael's Drive