Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music

Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music

by Greg Milner


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780865479388
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 579,142
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.66(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

GREG 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. He lives in Brooklyn.

Table of Contents

Liner Notes ix

Intro: "Testing, Testing ..." 3


1 The Point of Commencement 29

2 From the New World 50


3 Aluminum Cowboys: A Pretape Parable 77

4 Pink Pseudo-Realism 104

5 Presence 129


6 Perfect Sound? Whatever 185

7 The Story of the Band That Clipped Itself to Death (and Other Dispatches from the Loudness War) 237

8 Tubby's Ghost 293

Outro: "Testing, Testing ... (Reprise)" 347

Notes 373

Acknowledgments 393

Index 397

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Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
librorumamans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Parts of this history of recorded sound are fascinating; other parts become tedious. The title of Milner's book is misleading and explains some of my disappointment. This account is not a history of music recording; primarily it's a survey of the developments over the past fifty years in the recording of American pop music.It's the omissions that irk me. Although he acknowledges recording's initial start in France, Milner really examines only American advances in equipment and recording techniques. Surely the British, the French, or the Germans (at least) contributed something to the challenges of transferring sound waves to a persistent medium, but you'll learn very little of their accomplishments from this book. Milner can, for example, spend several pages on the Beatles' innovative recordings without ever mentioning George Martin; Ricky is the only Martin who makes it into the book's index. What's with that?Edison's goal, according to Milner, was to make an objectively accurate record of an individual performance. The through line of Perfecting Sound Forever follows the wandering path from that ideal to recent decades when a CD produces sounds that may never have had any prior physical existence at all. Organizing the book around such a notion requires Milner to virtually ignore classical music after Stokowski's recording of Fantasia (on page 71 of 371) and almost all of acoustic jazz. Fidelity may have vanished in the 1990's from certain types of pop music, but it's grossly over-simplified, even in the era of MP3s, to imply that fidelity has ceased to be a goal of digital recording in general.Rating the book at two stars would be harsh, but I give it three only because, despite its shortcomings, I found some interesting content in most chapters.
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The_Mugster More than 1 year ago
This has got to be the first "footnoted" book I've ever read that I couldn't put down! I'm sure that has a lot to do with my own background as a semi-pro musician and performer, but really, the logical target for this book is basically any halfway-curious person who's sought out and enjoyed any recorded music at any time between, say, 1880 and 2010. Milner affably and casually presents a very engaging narrative of the development of recorded music, covering in depth the evolution of what "fidelity" has meant, historically, but also the psychoacoustics of the listening experience and how that's evolved as technology has taken us from Edison's wax cylinders to MP3's compressed into those dinky little iPods. With the exception of a very few pages of supra-layman's techno-speak, this is highly accessible nonfiction for the masses (like me). If you like John McPhee, you'll have a great time with Milner! Highly recommended!