Into the Groove: The Story of Sound from Tin Foil to Vinyl

Bloomsbury. May 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781472979827. $28. MUSIC
Music writer Scott (The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of NASA’s Interstellar Mixtape) explores the process of committing sound to permanence in this combination history/science book. All of the major innovations are here: phonographs, cylinders, magnetic recording, and discs. Inventor Thomas Edison appears, disappears, then reappears; but this story doesn’t have a singular star (or villain), as both vinyl records and radio served as catalysts for change within the industry—beloved, forgotten, and then re-remembered as technology and tastes changed. Scott excels in explaining the connections between innovators and their various epiphanies and lawsuits without ever losing focus of recordings’ end users: the listener. For each innovation, there’s detail on how the sounds actually come across to the listener—and Scott’s ability to portray this with literary onomatopoeia is impressive. There is also a strong glossary, called “a miscellany” in this volume, that helps clarify concepts. Some chapters include links to relevant online resources, which are worth exploring.
VERDICT A perfect fit for music lovers who’ve always wondered how a recorded performance reaches their ears.
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