Perfecting Sound Forever

An Aural History of Recorded Music by Greg Milner

  • Published: Aug 16, 2020

In 1915, Thomas Edison proclaimed that he could record a live performance and reproduce it perfectly, shocking audiences who found themselves unable to tell whether what they were hearing was an Edison Diamond Disc or a flesh-and-blood musician. Today, the... read more

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Details of Perfecting Sound Forever

Exact title of the book
Perfecting Sound Forever
Book author
Greg Milner
ISBN
9781429957151
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published
Jun 09, 2009
Language
English
Format
PDF, FB2, EPUB, MOBI
Pages
432
File size (in PDF)
3888 kB

Some brief overview of book

In 1915, Thomas Edison proclaimed that he could record a live performance and reproduce it perfectly, shocking audiences who found themselves unable to tell whether what they were hearing was an Edison Diamond Disc or a flesh-and-blood musician. Today, the equation is reversed. Whereas Edison proposed that a real performance could be rebuilt with absolute perfection, Pro Tools and digital samplers now allow musicians and engineers to create the illusion of performances that never were.

In between lies a century of sonic exploration into the balance between the real and the represented. Tracing the contours of this history, Greg Milner takes us through the major breakthroughs and glorious failures in the art and science of recording. An American soldier monitoring Nazi radio transmissions stumbles onto the open yet revolutionary secret of magnetic tape.

Japanese and Dutch researchers build a first-generation digital audio format and watch as their "compact disc" is marketed by the music industry as the second coming of Edison yet derided as heretical by analog loyalists. The music world becomes addicted to volume in the nineties and fights a self-defeating "loudness war" to get its fix. From Les Paul to Phil Spector to King Tubby, from vinyl to pirated CDs to iPods, Milner's Perfecting Sound Forever pulls apart musical history to answer a crucial question Should a recording document reality as faithfully as possible, or should it improve upon or somehow transcend the music it records?

The answers he uncovers will change the very way we think about music.

About author

Milner has written about music, media, technology, and politics for Spin, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Slate, Salon, and Wired. He is the coauthor, with the filmmaker Joe Berlinger, of Metallica This Monster Lives and has also worked as a political speechwriter. He lives in Brooklyn.

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