— This is the back cover of a book I made in the 3rd grade titled Masterworks and Things. I wrote two to three sentences about each artist and drew the illustrations–pencil drawings, mostly copying paintings. The last of the book’s 18 pages promises future volumes on Jimmy Carter and Alexander Calder but I never got around to doing those.

In 2005 Eva Prinz contacted me about writing a book about sound art for Rizzoli, where she was then an editor. I happily accepted, although most of my writing up until that point had been for music magazines, so in my mind working with an art book publisher seemed a bit anomalous–even though I felt that a lot of the profiles I’ve done for magazines were, in a way, an extension of the interest in portraiture and drawing that I had as a kid (Masterworks and Things is virtually all portraits). I had forgotten about Masterworks and Things until several months later, when my mother was selling the house I grew up and I was going through my old belongings there. Looking at it again, for the first time in ages, I realized that I had actually envisioned writing, and made, an art book thirty years before. Rizzoli’s commission fulfilled an ambition I had forgotten ever having.

Born in 1968, guitarist and author Alan Licht has been active in New York’s rock and experimental music scenes for the past two decades, as composer, improvisor, curator and lecturer, while also engaging in performances and installations that intersect with his interests in film and art. He is the author of SOUND ART: BEYOND MUSIC CATEGORIES (Rizzoli, 2007) and AN EMOTIONAL MEMOIR OF MARTHA QUINN (Drag City, 2002) and has appeared on nearly 100 recordings.