Music, Sound, and Technology in America: A Documentary History of Early Phonograph, Cinema, and Radio

Compiled and edited by
Timothy D. Taylor, Mark Katz, and Tony Grajeda


Duke University Press, 2012

This unique anthology assembles primary documents chronicling the development of the phonograph, film sound, and the radio. These three sound technologies shaped Americans' relation to music from the late nineteenth century until the end of the Second World War, by which time the technologies were thoroughly integrated into everyday life. There are more than 120 selections between the collection's first piece, an article on the phonograph written by Thomas Edison in 1878, and its last, a column advising listeners "desirous of gaining more from music as presented by the radio." Among the selections are articles from popular and trade publications, advertisements, fan letters, corporate records, fiction, and sheet music. Taken together, the selections capture how the new sound technologies were shaped by developments such as urbanization, the increasing value placed on leisure time, and the rise of the advertising industry. Most importantly, they depict the ways that the new sound technologies were received by real people in particular places and moments in time.

Available at booksellers May 9, 2012. More info at Duke University Press.

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"Music, Sound, and Technology in America provides a useful overview of the impact of technologies on American music and musical culture. It is a valuable resource, an engaging, well-organized anthology that will raise provocative questions for students of American cultural history."

Michele Hilmes, author of Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922–1952

"Filled with great selections, Music, Sound, and Technology in America is a salutary addition to a media studies literature lacking in such sourcebooks. It provides a ready-made trove of primary source material to use in classroom discussions of historical interpretation and methodology. In addition, by juxtaposing materials on diverse aspects of sound, the editors avoid the persistent habit of segmenting sound studies by medium or mode."

Jonathan Sterne, author of The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction

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