Capturing Sound

Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, Revised Edition

mark katz
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pn6zx
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  • Book Info
    Capturing Sound
    Book Description:

    Fully revised and updated, this new edition of Mark Katz's award-winning text adds coverage of mashups and Auto-Tune, explores recent developments in file-sharing, and includes an expanded conclusion and bibliography. Find illustrative sound and film clips www.ucpress.edu/go/capturingsound

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94735-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-9)

    Several years ago, a friend asked me to explain the subject of this book, then in its early stages of development. Opting for a dramatic approach, I pulled a CD at random from a nearby shelf and brandished it in front of me. “This,” I declared, “has changed the way we listen to, perform, and compose music.” My friend squinted at the CD, gave me a quizzical look, and asked, “Thatdid?” “Yes!” I answered with gusto. Seeming unconvinced, he clarified his question. “Van Halenchanged the way we listen to, perform, and compose music?”

    Maybe, but that was not...

  6. CHAPTER ONE CAUSES
    (pp. 10-55)

    Anytown, U.S.A., 1905: a family and several neighbors stand in the parlor of a modest home, staring with equal parts curiosity and skepticism at one of the technological marvels of the day. Staring back at them is the unblinking eye of a megaphone-shaped brass horn. It protrudes about two feet from a small wooden cabinet with a crank on one side and a felt-covered metal plate on top. The marvel is a phonograph, or “talking machine,” as it was commonly called.¹

    The gentleman of the house takes a heavy black disc, grooved on one side and smooth on the other,...

  7. CHAPTER TWO MAKING AMERICA MORE MUSICAL: THE PHONOGRAPH AND “GOOD MUSIC”
    (pp. 56-79)

    Main Street was a musical wasteland. Parlor pianos gathered dust, violins moldered in their cases. Students joylessly rehearsed solfège, while inept organists left worshipers cringing in their pews. The town band was a disgrace. Then, suddenly, after what came to be known as the Great Event, everything changed. Families organized string quartets, children eagerly studied music in school, and the community established an orchestra and revived caroling.

    What was this Great Event? Simply this: one day the town barber, “Pa” Robinson, bought a phonograph for his wife and four children. This one purchase set Main Street’s musical renaissance into motion....

  8. CHAPTER THREE CAPTURING JAZZ
    (pp. 80-93)

    The Original Dixieland Jazz Band was in the right place at the right time. It was early 1917, and while engaged at Reisenweber’s Restaurant in New York City, the group attracted the attention of the two leading phonograph companies of the day. Columbia auditioned the ODJB first, but did not immediately hire the New Orleans quintet. Much to Columbia’s later regret, its rival Victor brought the band into its studios in late February to record two numbers, “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixieland Jass Band One-Step.” In stores by March, this ten-inch double-sided disc is now generally agreed to have been...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR AESTHETICS OUT OF EXIGENCY: VIOLIN VIBRATO AND THE PHONOGRAPH
    (pp. 94-108)

    It has been decried as a plague and derided as vulgar, lauded as life-giving and hailed as a charming grace. The subject of such equally passionate ridicule and praise is vibrato, perhaps the most hotly debated aspect of violin technique in the history of the instrument. For more than three hundred years, this pulsing effect, created by the rapid quiver of the left hand, was treated as an embellishment, considered artistic only in its subtle and sparing use. The first decades of the twentieth century, however, saw a transformation in the practice: concert violinists began using vibrato more conspicuously and...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE THE RISE AND FALL OF GRAMMOPHONMUSIK
    (pp. 109-123)

    In the mid-1980s, three seemingly unremarkable 78-rpm records arrived at Berlin’s State Institute for Music Research. With their cryptic handwritten labels, the privately pressed discs gave little clue as to their contents or significance. It was soon discovered, however, that they contained works by the German composer Paul Hindemith, music long believed to have been lost. Recorded in 1930 by the composer himself, these discs preserved works that existed in no other form. They were Hindemith’sgrammophonplatten-eigene Stücke—pieces written specifically, and solely, for phonograph records.

    The institute was not interested in the 78s. The discs were returned to the...

  11. CHAPTER SIX THE TURNTABLE AS WEAPON: UNDERSTANDING THE HIP-HOP DJ BATTLE
    (pp. 124-145)

    The room is dark and crowded. At the front, two young men stand at opposite sides of a stage, making last-minute adjustments to the machines before them. They stop as a voice booms over a set of enormous loudspeakers, introducing one of them as the next competitor. He is spotlighted, and for the next few minutes he operates the equipment with dizzying virtuosity. His hands—darting, snaking, twisting, disappearing, and reappearing among the controls—generate a barrage of sound: fragments of speech, snatches of song, high-pitched syncopated scraping, and throbbing, chest-filling bass. In response, the crowd cheers, jeers, laughs, shouts,...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN MUSIC IN 1s AND 0s: THE ART AND POLITICS OF DIGITAL SAMPLING
    (pp. 146-176)

    A fragment of a drum solo: the thump of the bass, the crack of the snare, the sting of the hi-hat, all combined in a distinctively syncopated pattern. Common sense suggests that this solo was fixed long ago, on the day the drummer Clyde Stubblefield recorded it as part of James Brown’s 1970 R&B song “Funky Drummer.”¹ Yet this two-second sequence enjoys a promiscuous, chameleonic existence. Accelerated, equalized to sound muffled and distant, and repeated continuously in Eric B. and Rakim’s “Lyrics of Fury” (1988), it takes on a menacing tone, matching the intensity of the rap. Similarly looped, but...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT LISTENING IN CYBERSPACE
    (pp. 177-210)

    I’m driving down the road when a song on the radio catches my ear. It has a descending tetrachord—a particular type of recurring four-note pattern—and for reasons I can’t quite explain, I collect descending tetrachords. Before it slips my mind, I take out my cell phone and call home. Since I’m not there, I have a slightly surreal conversation with my voice mail: “Hi Mark, it’s Mark. Descending tetrachord. I think it’s the Violent Femmes. Remember this line: ‘Beautiful girl, love the dress.’ Got that? OK, see you soon.” When I get home, I go to my computer...

  14. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 211-222)

    Rather than try to summarize more than a century of life with sound recording, I would like to close this study with five main points that I hope will tie together the many threads we have unraveled in our study of phonograph effects. My first two points assert what I believe are unchanging truths about recording technology and reiterate claims I have made throughout this book. The next two address the current state of recording, and my final point articulates what may be considered the moral of the story of recording, as I tell it.

    John Pfeiffer, who for fifty...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 223-270)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 271-304)
  17. List of Supplementary Web Materials
    (pp. 305-306)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 307-320)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-321)