Roger Scruton first addressed this topic in his celebrated book The Aesthetics of Music (OUP) and in this new book he applies the theory to the practice and examines a number of composers and musical forms.
His continued fascination with Wagner provides much interesting content but he also deals near-death blows to his favorite targets like Pierre Boulez and Hoagy Carmichael. His legal encounter with The Pet Shop Boys is well documented (they sued him for libel in 1999) and the book closes with a devastating chapter on pop music, containing more controversial views that readers will relish. Many will be delighted; others enraged. However, underlying this book there is a consistent argument and passion for tonality and rhythm.
"The prolific philosopher turns his attention back to music, exploring the fundamental elements that make a great piece. Ranging from Wagner to Hoagy Carmichael and even a final chapter on 'the disaster of pop', this is trademark, provocotive Scruton." - Bookseller, 20 May 2009.
You can read Marco Respinti's review of the Italian edition of 'Understanding Music' in Italy's daily newspaper 'Libero' published in September 2014.