The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933

Thompson, Emily

Published by The MIT Press, 2002
ISBN 10: 0262201380 / ISBN 13: 9780262201384
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In this history of aural culture in early-twentieth-century America, Emily Thompson charts dramatic transformations in what people heard and how they listened. What they heard was a new kind of sound that was the product of modern technology. They listened as newly critical consumers of aural commodities. By examining the technologies that produced this sound, as well as the culture that enthusiastically consumed it, Thompson recovers a lost dimension of the Machine Age and deepens our understanding of the experience of change that characterized the era.Reverberation equations, sound meters, microphones, and acoustical tiles were deployed in places as varied as Boston's Symphony Hall, New York's office skyscrapers, and the soundstages of Hollywood. The control provided by these technologies, however, was applied in ways that denied the particularity of place, and the diverse spaces of modern America began to sound alike as a universal new sound predominated. Although this sound--clear, direct, efficient, and nonreverberant--had little to say about the physical spaces in which it was produced, it speaks volumes about the culture that created it. By listening to it, Thompson constructs a compelling new account of the experience of modernity in America.

From the Inside Flap: "A good book opens your eyes; this one opens your ears as well."
--Stuart W. Leslie, Department of the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, The Johns Hopkins University

"This book takes on entirely new territory in the still-emerging scholarship on our aural history and does so with panache and clarity. It is an exemplar of how the history of technology and culture should be done."
--Susan J. Douglas, The University of Michigan

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Title: The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural ...
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine

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