The untold story of acoustic effects in popular music.
Winner of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections' (ARSC) Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research (2006)
Echo and Reverb is the first history of acoustically imagined space in popular music recording. The book documents how acoustic effects—reverberation, room ambience, and echo—have been used in recordings since the 1920s to create virtual sonic architectures and landscapes. Author Peter Doyle traces the development of these acoustically-created worlds from the ancient Greek myth of Echo and Narcissus to the dramatic acoustic architectures of the medieval cathedral, the grand concert halls of the 19th century, and those created by the humble parlor phonograph of the early 20th century, and finally, the revolutionary age of rock 'n' roll.
Citing recordings ranging from Gene Austin's 'My Blue Heaven' to Elvis Presley's 'Mystery Train,' Doyle illustrates how non-musical sound constructs, with all their rich and contradictory baggage, became a central feature of recorded music. The book traces various imagined worlds created with synthetic echo and reverb—the heroic landscapes of the cowboy west, the twilight shores of south sea islands, the uncanny alleys of dark cityscapes, the weird mindspaces of horror movies, the private and collective spaces of teen experience, and the funky juke-joints of the mind.
Harnessing the Echo
"Way Out There": Hillbilly, Blues and Jazz
"Blue Shadows on the Trail": Space and Place in the Imagined West
"And as the Sun Sinks Slowly in the West . . .": Sobbing Guitars, Distant Horizons and the Acoustics of Otherness
"How Near, How Far?": Inner Voices, Weird Space and the Ghostly West
"Off the Wall": Blues Recording at Sun and Chess Studios, 1947–1954
"Train I Ride . . .": Rock 'n' Roll Echo
"Train Kept a Rollin'": Popular Music's New Territories
Conclusion: "Race with the Devil"
"A bracing book that made me realize I'd never really 'heard' so many records I had listened to for decades. It is chiseled, lucid, beautifully written, and so vivid it somehow lets you hear every example without benefit of audio."~Luc Sante, author of Low Life and The Factory of Facts
"Reading Peter Doyle's new book is a great cruise through a sea of music familiar to those who grew up in the monaural sound era."~Neil V. Rosenberg, author of Bluegrass: A History and Transforming Tradition