The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies

Oxford University Press
Free sample

Written by the world's leading scholars and researchers in the emerging field of sound studies, The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies offers new and fully engaging perspectives on the significance of sound in its material and cultural forms. The book considers sounds and music as experienced in such diverse settings as shop floors, laboratories, clinics, design studios, homes, and clubs, across an impressively broad range of historical periods and national and cultural contexts. Science has traditionally been understood as a visual matter, a study which has historically been undertaken with optical technologies such as slides, graphs, and telescopes. This book questions that notion powerfully by showing how listening has contributed to scientific practice. Sounds have always been a part of human experience, shaping and transforming the world in which we live in ways that often go unnoticed. Sounds and music, the authors argue, are embedded in the fabric of everyday life, art, commerce, and politics in ways which impact our perception of the world. Through an extraordinarily diverse set of case studies, authors illustrate how sounds -- from the sounds of industrialization, to the sounds of automobiles, to sounds in underwater music and hip-hop, to the sounds of nanotechnology -- give rise to new forms listening practices. In addition, the book discusses the rise of new public problems such as noise pollution, hearing loss, and the "end" of the amateur musician that stem from the spread and appropriation of new sound- and music-related technologies, analog and digital, in many domains of life. Rich in vivid and detailed examples and compelling case studies, and featuring a companion website of listening samples, this remarkable volume boldly challenges readers to rethink the way they hear and understand the world.
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About the author

Trevor Pinch is Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University, and author or co-author of several books including Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (2002, with Frank Trocco) and The Golem at Large: What You Should Know About Technology (1993, 1998, with Harry Collins). Karin Bijsterveld is Professor of Science, Technology and Modern Culture at Maastricht University. She is author of Mechanical Sound: Technology, Culture and Public Problems of Noise in the Twentieth Century (2008), and co-editor of Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices (2009, with José van Dijck).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Dec 2, 2011
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Pages
624
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ISBN
9780199909438
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / General
Music / Recording & Reproduction
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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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.

The Audible Past explores the cultural origins of sound reproduction. It describes a distinctive sound culture that gave birth to the sound recording and the transmission devices so ubiquitous in modern life. With an ear for the unexpected, scholar and musician Jonathan Sterne uses the technological and cultural precursors of telephony, phonography, and radio as an entry point into a history of sound in its own right. Sterne studies the constantly shifting boundary between phenomena organized as "sound" and "not sound." In The Audible Past, this history crisscrosses the liminal regions between bodies and machines, originals and copies, nature and culture, and life and death.

Blending cultural studies and the history of communication technology, Sterne follows modern sound technologies back through a historical labyrinth. Along the way, he encounters capitalists and inventors, musicians and philosophers, embalmers and grave robbers, doctors and patients, deaf children and their teachers, professionals and hobbyists, folklorists and tribal singers. The Audible Past tracks the connections between the history of sound and the defining features of modernity: from developments in medicine, physics, and philosophy to the tumultuous shifts of industrial capitalism, colonialism, urbanization, modern technology, and the rise of a new middle class.

A provocative history of sound, The Audible Past challenges theoretical commonplaces such as the philosophical privilege of the speaking subject, the visual bias in theories of modernity, and static descriptions of nature. It will interest those in cultural studies, media and communication studies, the new musicology, and the history of technology.

Finalist for the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, and the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year

One of Billboard’s 100 Greatest Music Books of All Time

A New York Times Editors’ Choice

ONE OF THE YEAR'S BEST BOOKS: The Washington Post • The Financial Times • Slate • The Atlantic • Time • Forbes

“[How Music Got Free] has the clear writing and brisk reportorial acumen of a Michael Lewis book.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store. 

Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online—when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. In the page-turning tradition of writers like Michael Lewis and Lawrence Wright, Witt’s deeply reported first book introduces the unforgettable characters—inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers—who revolutionized an entire artform, and reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives.

An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself.
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