Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music

Greg Milner, Author
Greg Milner, Author . FSG/Faber & Faber $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-571-21165-4
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-1-84708-140-7
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-86547-938-8
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4299-5715-1
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-1-86207-942-7
Hardcover - 14 pages - 978-1-4084-7904-9
Show other formats
FORMATS

Recording gadgets evolve with dizzying speed, but debates over their effects on music never change, according to this fascinating study of technology and aesthetics. Journalist Milner (coauthor, Metallica: This Monster Lives ) surveys developments in recording, from Thomas Edison's complaints about those new-fangled Victrolas to the contemporary controversy between CD and vinyl. With every advance of hardware, he notes, comes accompanying shifts in the sound of music: the sense of physical space implied by stereo sound; the advent of rock 'n' roll reverb; the “big obnoxious ambient drum sound that defined the '80s” under the Phil Collins dictatorship; the “unsettling robotic tone” imparted to vocals by today's Auto-Tune pitch-correction software; the arms race toward ear-grabbing, distortion-heavy loudness that leaves us “surrounded by music that does nothing but shout.” Perennial arguments about the fidelity of new technologies, he contends, miss the point: now that every record is digitally spliced together out of multiple tracks and far-flung samples, there is no authentic musical performance for the sound engineer—contemporary music's true auteur—to “record.” Milner combines a lucid exposition of acoustics and technology with a critic's keen discernment of the pop-music soundscape. The result is a real ear-opener that will captivate fans and techies alike. (June 16)

The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X