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Making Easy Listening

Material Culture and Postwar American Recording

2005
Author:

Tim J. Anderson

Making Easy Listening

The history of commercial, economic, and aesthetic forces in the music industry

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.

Making Easy Listening increases our knowledge of aesthetic and technical experiments in sound and contributes greatly to our understanding of the entire political and musical culture of this period.

Paul Théberge, Any Sound You Can Imagine: Making Music/Consuming Technology

The period between the Second World War and the mid-1960s saw the American music industry engaged in a fundamental transformation in how music was produced and experienced. Tim Anderson analyzes three sites of this music revolution: the change from a business centered around live performances to one based on selling records, the custom of simultaneously bringing out multiple versions of the same song, and the arrival of in-home high-fidelity stereo systems.

Making Easy Listening presents a social and cultural history of the contentious, diverse, and experimental culture of musical production and enjoyment that aims to understand how recording technologies influence musicians’s, as well as listeners’s, lives. With attention to the details of what it means to play a particular record in a distinct cultural context, Anderson connects neglected genres of the musical canon—classical and easy listening music, Broadway musicals, and sound effects records—with the development of sound aesthetics and technical music practices that leave an indelible imprint on individuals. Tracing the countless impacts that this period of innovation exacted on the mass media, Anderson reveals how an examination of this historical era—and recorded music as an object—furthers a deeper understanding of the present-day American music industry.

Making Easy Listening

Tim J. Anderson is assistant professor of communication at Denison University.

Making Easy Listening

Making Easy Listening increases our knowledge of aesthetic and technical experiments in sound and contributes greatly to our understanding of the entire political and musical culture of this period.

Paul Théberge, Any Sound You Can Imagine: Making Music/Consuming Technology

Making Easy Listening makes an important contribution to historicizing the rise of the recorded over the live performance as the dominant mode of contemporary musical experience by focusing on popular music from the so-called ‘prerock’ era. Anderson has a fine eye for telling details and insightful irony. Making Easy Listening presents a groundbreaking piece of scholarship that will be of interest to diverse researchers.

Journal of Communication

Anderson’s writing is engaging and his love for the recordings is evident.

Current Musicology

This book has much to say about the history of the music industry and musical culture. it reflects a merging of interests between scholars in different fields and disciplines and throws light on new directions in historical research. It will no doubt help other scholars place technologies and organizations in the music business within a broader historical perspective. Its areas of inquiry offer valuable insights into the various ways music has been produced and experienced and show again that music and technology are not autonomous forces that evolve outside the realm of material culture.

Technology and Culture

This book offers a stimulating mix of history and theory.

Choice

This is a fascinating book, relating as it does recording, broadcasting and show business worlds of the two decades after World War II. It makes for especially reading in light of the very much changed world of music recording in the digital era.

Communication Booknotes Quarterly

Making Easy Listening

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Opening Tracks

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
2. Counterreform and Resignation: The Second Strike of the American Federation of Musicians

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
4. Listening to My My Fair Lady: Versioning and the Recorded Music Object

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

5. A Tale of Two Ears: The Concert Hall Aesthetic and Stereo
6. Space, the Pliable Frontier: Stereo as the New Spatial Palette of Audio

Conclusion: The Flip Side (and a Few Concluding Thoughts)
Notes
Works Cited

Index