The Liberation Of Sound
By: Herbert Russcol, $10.00
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
As in any area of study, it is important to know the technical developments and major personalities responsible for bringing synthesis to its present status. Many people would think that electronic music is too young to warrant a complete book devoted to the subject, but in actuality electronic music has shown a steady development since Edison gave us a device for reproduction of sound. In The Liberation of Sound, Russcol starts his history lesson around 1900 when musicians were looking for change and resorted to radical experimentation with tonality and performance methods. Then, as electromechanical technology begins to provide composers with answers to their search, Russcol goes into great detail about the long period of "Musique Concrete" and development of tape techniques. Interesting "behind the scenes" material is provided throughout the historical section of the book, making for light, enjoyable reading.
The second section of the book deals with the more familiar names of the sixties - the decade that electronic music really came of age. Excellent biographies are given for people such as Morton Subotnick, Milton Babbit, John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The book continues with discussions on the impact of the computer on electronic music, and subjects like calculated (or theoretical) compositional techniques. The final chapter gives numerous reviews and listings of records available in the electronic music field.
Excellent appendices and bibliographies at the rear of the book provide comments from other writers about computer music, a glossary of electronic music terms, and an extended bibliography which should keep you bookworms happy for some time. Even if you aren't a history fan, you will enjoy this book because of the heavy emphasis of technology, and the extremely broad range of the book makes it a frequently used reference source as well.
Review by Marvin Jones
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