Cover image for A century of recorded music : listening to musical history
A century of recorded music : listening to musical history
Day, Timothy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 306 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Making recordings -- The repertory recorded -- Changes in performing styles recorded -- Listening to recordings.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML1055 .D37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



An exploration of the impact of recording technology upon the art of music. Timothy Day chronicles the developments in recording technology since its inception and describes the powerful effects it has had on artistic performance, audience participation and listening habits.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Day is the curator of Western art music at the Sound Archive of the British Library and, as such, master of a source of authority that crushes any quibbles about his occasional presumptuousness, especially in the title of his book. This is a book about recorded Western classical music only, and to fully enjoy it, perhaps, a broad knowledge of the major figures and terms of that music is desirable. But beyond that, the book raises no barriers, for musical notation is absent and musical jargon minimal. The fascination it possesses for classical music lovers is enormous. Each of the four big essays is on a topic of acute interest: the history of making recordings, the growth of the recorded repertoire (slow until the LP, like a fastball since the CD's advent), the changes in performance styles that the recorded legacy documents, and the impact upon the performance, enjoyment, and development of music that listening to recordings has had. Although he is no master stylist, Day is clear and precise throughout, and he has written what may come to be regarded as a music library cornerstone. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

Day, curator of Western art music at the Sound Archive of the British Library in London, is unquestionably an authority on recorded music, and he writes with an anecdotal ease that is engaging and unpretentious. The material is divided into four large chapters: "Making Recordings," "The Repertory Recorded," "Changes in Performing Styles Recorded," and "Listening to Recordings." Somewhat rambling and repetitious, the book nonetheless contains a wealth of information about the history of the recording industry and attitudes of performers and listeners about this very 20th-century phenomenon. Day peppers the text with dozens of illuminating and droll anecdotes, all meticulously footnoted. His philosophical ruminations on the place of recordings among the art forms are particularly insightful and refreshing. However, some readers may find Day's overreliance on lengthy lists to be tedious, and American readers in particular may be put off by the British slant. Though fairly up-to-date, the book makes little mention of the CD-vs.-LP debate and does not discuss current hot topics, such as audio streaming and other web-based technologies. Recommended, but for large collections only.ÄLarry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

If only this engrossing book by the curator of Western art music at the Sound Archive of the British Library, London, were accompanied by CDs! Readers could then hear Arthur Nikisch in 1913 slowing the tempo of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to introduce the second subject; the portamenti in Edward Elgar's 1926 recording of his "Enigma" Variations; the liberal use of rubato by singers and the absence of vibrato by string and most wind players in the early 20th century. Fortunately, a catalog of the archive's sound recordings has come online ; when rights are secured there will be links to digitized copies of the recordings. As it stands, however, this work provides a detailed narrative of the evolution of recording from cylinders (1887), shellac discs, and acoustic rerecording through the reproducing piano, electrical amplifications (1925), and magnetic tape to the long-playing record (1948) and compact disc of the 1980s. Day also discusses studio practices and th e emergence of influential record producers, the role of radio and recordings in creating a mass audience, the expansion of recorded repertoire, and new ways to experience music. Recommended for all music collections. J. Behrens The G. Gould Professional School, The Royal Conservatory of Music