Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A book for better listening to Music
Perfecting Sound extracts
From Publishers Weekly
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)
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“Perfecting Sound Forever is an exhaustively researched, extraordinarily inquisitive book that dissects the central question within all music criticism: When we say that something sounds good, what are we really saying? And perhaps more important, what are we really hearing?” —CHUCK KLOSTERMAN, author of DOWNTOWN OWL
“Milner tells the story of recorded music with novelistic verve, ferocious attention to detail, and a soulful ambivalence about our quest for sonic perfection. He shows how great recordings come about not through advances in technology but through a love of the art, and that same love is the motor of his prose.” —ALEX ROSS, author of THE REST IS NOISE
“Milner’s history begins with the Big Bang and never quiets down, unpacking recordings by everyone from Bing Crosby to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a voice that’s equal parts lay scientist and used-record-store guru. It’s ear candy of the highest order.” —WILL HERMES, coeditor of SPIN: 20 YEARS OF ALTERNATIVE MUSIC
“A brilliant history of sonic dreams, full of provocative questions for any music lover: When you fall in love with a sound, what are you hearing? Does a recording capture a moment or create one? Milner makes these questions more fascinating—and more unsettling—than ever.” —ROB SHEFFIELD, author of LOVE IS A MIX TAPE
“[Milner] delves so deeply into the hows and whys of recorded sound that you may never listen to Lady Gaga the same way again. … a gifted storyteller with an ear for absurdity … Milner never loses his grasp on the humanity behind the music; what fascinates him more than decibels and ‘dead rooms’ is mankind’s innate desire to document and preserve itself. You might not think a book about reverb could thrill. Milner’s does.”—Mikael Wood, Time Out: New York
“Exhaustive, technically precise and fascinating.”—Marc Weingarten, Los Angeles Times
“Broad in scope and steeped in detail… Milner provides insightful commentary and possesses a solid grasp of pacing and a light touch with the technical aspects. … Milner especially excels at revealing the human side of each story.”—Kirkus
“A personal yet informative interpretation of recorded music that will appeal to students and professionals in the music industry as well as general music-loving readers.”—Bradford Lee Eden, Library Journal
“Recording gadgets evolve with dizzying speed, but debates over their effects on music never change, according to this fascinating study of technology and aesthetics. … 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.”—Publishers Weekly
“Superbly researched. … Milner’s is by no means a nerd’s-eye view: this is fundamentally a human story. … The fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers get a pasting is just one pleasure to be drawn from a book that is less about the music we like than what we may have sacrificed in pursuing it.”—Metro.co.uk
“Greg Milner’s Perfecting Sound Forever unravels the why and how with all the juicy technological details in place. … As deep as Perfecting Sound Forever takes us into sound, it never devalues the allure of the chimera that is the perfect recording. Milner is plenty aware of his sphinxlike subject.”—John Dugan, Time Out: Chicago
Thanks to Jamie Miller for hinting this.
I just ordered my copy.
Posted by twogoodears at 8/26/2009 09:04:00 AM