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Making Easy Listening

Making Easy Listening: Material Culture and Postwar American Recording

Tim J. Anderson
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Making Easy Listening
    Book Description:

    In Making Easy Listening, Tim J. Anderson analyzes the period between the Second World War and the mid-1960s that saw the American music industry engaged in a fundamental transformation in how music was produced and experienced. Anderson presents a social and cultural history of musical production that aims to understand how recording technologies influence musicians's, as well as listeners's, lives._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9695-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Opening Tracks
    (pp. xiii-xliv)

    In 1952 songwriter and jazz pianist Tony Burello and his colleague Tom Murray found themselves in an interesting dilemma. Although their collaborative efforts had yielded a small catalogue of what they considered to be attractive, if not excellent, songs, they had been unable to persuade any prominent artists to record their material. Particularly annoyed by the situation the two concluded, “We are in an era where good is bad and bad is good” (quoted in Demento 1995, 7). And, as the story goes, “with that they set out to write the worst song they could imagine.” Half of what the...

  5. Part I. Managing the Recording Process and Rethinking the Recording Bans

    • 1 Buried under the Fecundity of His Own Creations: The First Strike of the American Federation of Musicians
      (pp. 3-26)

      Commercial mass entertainment economies are strange and impressive technologies that, despite their scale, must adhere to that most basic tenet of capitalism: they do not have the luxury of stasis. These machines suffer the wills of style, and without regular tuneups they fall apart, rust. There are no other options. As an example, take one of the most famous technological assemblages of American tourism, luxury, and amusement. For many Americans, Las Vegas is a uniform fantasy consisting of unrestricted gambling, music, and sex. Yet despite this image Las Vegas is no longer completely “Las Vegas.” Within the past fifteen years,...

    • 2 Counterreform and Resignation: The Second Strike of the American Federation of Musicians
      (pp. 27-48)

      If there is one fascination I have with recordings and their relationship to history that outstrips all others, it would have to be the manner in which recordings are able to re-present the past. Recordings not only lend significance to the presentation of moments captured but also present the absence of others. As a small child who grew up mindful of something called Watergate, I knew that taping someone could muster trouble for even the most powerful people. The fact that one’s own voice could be used against oneself, a concept I somehow found patently unfair if not simply frightening,...

  6. Part II. Production, Reproduction, and the Case of My Fair Lady

    • 3 Which Voice Best Becomes the Property? Stitching the Intertext of My Fair Lady
      (pp. 51-76)

      This commentary on Warner Brothers’ 1964 film version ofMy Fair Ladyoffers the critical reader any number of analytical options for examination, but nothing is riper for inspection than the passage’s focus on the technology of sound recording. Specifically high-lighting technological questions, the reviewer isolates the “trick” of dubbing, noting that the effect is something to be admired when performed with enough skill to cover its own traces. The seamless seam, if it renders no audible tear, can both become and strengthen the property of the filmic text as a considerable asset in producing the ideal rendition of any...

    • 4 Listening to My My Fair Lady: Versioning and the Recorded Music Object
      (pp. 77-102)

      Because of hindsight it is possible to find in Shaw’sPygmalionsomething humorous. Perhaps it is the mixture of his confident tone with the fact that it was this play that was processed into a romantic musical rather than retaining its instructive airs. Shaw’s rendition of the Pygmalion myth would become one of Hollywood’s last successful musicals, a genre whose primary aim is entertainment. The musical is so fixated on every aspect of what the term “entertainment” embodies that it is now regarded as the most garish of American film genres and, as its presence has receded, it has come...

  7. Part III. Stereo, Hi-Fi, and the Modern Pleasures of Easy Listening

    • 5 A Tale of Two Ears: The Concert Hall Aesthetic and Stereo
      (pp. 105-150)

      The most pressing questions in this book are those that investigate the nature and our understanding of recordings. Institutionally, the record is created through an assortment of concerns. We have seen how the record industry shaped the recording as a unit whose success is predicated on its exchange. Broadcasters, on the other hand, positioned the record as an essential facet in scheduling programming, a position the industry shows no intent of altering. In other activities we may notice how musicians form recordings for exchange, education, and archiving. The utility of recordings for scholars of music is unprecedented. And historians of...

    • 6 Space, the Pliable Frontier: Stereo as the New Spatial Palette of Audio
      (pp. 151-178)

      In opening this chapter I want to return to the beginning of this study and recall the rather extraordinary example given in the introduction, “There’s a New Sound.” Not quite the smash single, the record still holds novelty if only because of the composition’s status as a pop-music experiment. Popular music is replete with sonic experiments, a fact that is borne out in simple reflection. Ask yourself how many of your favorite recent pop records are flush with samples, studio effects, and so on. How few modern vocalists record unadorned, steadfastly avoiding a dash of echo or chorus? For the...

  8. Conclusion: The Flip Side (and a Few Concluding Thoughts)
    (pp. 179-188)

    “The flip side of the record” is one of the more romantic phrases in record culture. Placing the long-play or 45-rpm record between your hands, turning it over, and finding that “side,” that song or performance hidden to the casual listener but imminently accessible to anyone who chooses to look for it, are actions that neatly sum up all that I find delightfully intriguing about these objects. Records are hardly simple objects. Inside these sides are grooves, the common spaces, the topoi, of many aesthetic renditions and offerings. They can be flipped, spun backward, scratched; they can gather dust, be...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 189-216)
    (pp. 217-232)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 233-236)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-237)