Read Perfecting Sound Forever: The Story of Recorded Music by Greg Milner Free Online
Book Title: Perfecting Sound Forever: The Story of Recorded Music|
Date of issue: July 1st 2010
ISBN 13: 9781847081407
The author of the book: Greg Milner
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 376 KB
Edition: Granta Books (UK)
Read full description of the books Perfecting Sound Forever: The Story of Recorded Music:Usually with 400 page facty books you enjoy them but are happy to have got through to the end. With this, I was disappointed when I got to the last few pages. So much fascinating detail, so many fascinating stories, and hundreds of answers about the recording of sound, none of which Milner is arrogant or foolish enough to call definitive.
This starts off with the Big Bang, obviously, and how the universe spread out in waves of sound and light. Then we get a little more specific, with technical but clear explanations of what sound is and how it generally works. After that it's Edison and his rivals working sound vibrations onto discs and tubes trying to reflect back the reality of sound. Right away, with roadshow Tone Tests held to demonstrate the veracity of recording, with crowds amazed at singers singing, then closing their mouths and the record 'taking over', we learn that the idea of recorded sound was bending what we thought sound sounds like.
In this case, the singers sang closer to the sound of the record to make the tone test work better. And then on through recorded history with engineers and audiophiles claiming to have made and heard a true or truer sound, then fakery and trickery being just as popular and often far more fun.
We learn about studios going from huge rooms where groups locked in tight with each other, to recording in separate spaces to stop bleed, then recording at separate times on different tracks, bouncing down and along via Dub and overdubs and loudness wars and pro-tools, aligning everything and making your drums sound like drums are supposed to by supposing other drums over yours.
There's loads of great stories throughout this, Geoff Emerick telling the distraught Kaiser Chiefs they couldn't cheat on a recording and their subsequent shock revelation that they were crap musicians tells you a lot about why Landfill Indie is Landfill Indie. The stuff about King Tubby inventing Dub and one of his proteges coming up with Sleng Teng, where electronics took over. Stories about the invention of synths and sampling, going from megablocks that could heat a whole room while sampling one and a half seconds to being able to hold half the world on a crappy laptop.
The central thing I learnt from this book is that music is a string of information, and truth in sound is an unachievable aim, because truth is subjective, even with something fixed like a recorded sound wave. There's a chapter of the book about the different audio file formats. Essentially, to get the entire range of sound frequencies into a reasonably sized file is impossible, so they chop off a lot of the sound at either end, and our minds fill in the blanks.
A lot of people claim to have 'Golden Ears' (and have through the history of audiophilia), where they think they can hear the minute different qualities of files, CDs, records. The testing facility that checks peoples reactions to different sizes and qualities of music files never tells the subjects how 'right' they were in identifying different qualities of sound, because if they got it 'wrong' it might fundamentally affect how that person thinks of themselves.
There is a big dissection/discussion about digital v analogue, with the pioneers of digital, Old Grumpy Grits Stevey Albini and more throwing in on it. There IS a difference in quality between the two, and the pitch and power of digital means, for me, it has far more capacity to annoy. But maybe I just prefer tapes and radio as that's where my brain got taught about sound? I know John Cale's Fear Is A Man's Best Friend sounds better on a D90 than on the CD I now have of it. But maybe that's just how I learnt it.
This is a GREAT book. If you like music, read it. If you like science, read it. If you like people having big fights about things for ages, read it. If you don't like any of those things, who are you and what is your fucking problem?
Read information about the authorGreg Milner is the author of Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His forthcoming book, Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture and Our Minds, will be published by WW Norton in May 2016. Milner is also theco-author, with filmmaker Joe Berlinger, of Metallica: This Monster Lives. A former editor at Spin, his writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Wired, Rolling Stone, Village Voice, New York magazine, Salon, and the Sunday Times of London.
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