5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2011
This book is a really interesting read, written by authors who clearly know what they are talking about, which is not always the case with books on music technology. It is, as the other reviews say, presented in a very readable, not too technical style. But I do have one or two quibbles. Firstly there is a slightly schizoid approach in this account; is it a book about Moog, or the development of the analog synthesiser? Yes Dr Bob was a key figure, but I felt that other actors, such as Pearlman or Zinoviev, got a more superficial treatment.
Then there are what appear to me to be some obvious factual errors. The one that had me scratching my head was the assertion that Pink Floyd used synthesisers on the album Meddle. This might sound a little pedantic, but as far as I can see the answer is no, they didn't. Sonically I hear no evidence of synths on this record and, whilst the sleeve notes are brief, to say the least, no mention of synthesisers. By contrast, the notes for Dark Side of the Moon make prominent reference to the VCS3.
Is this at all important? Well the thesis of the book is that the liminal status of the synth opened up a whole new world for musicians, which is largely true. But in other cases it did not. Delia Derbyshire, for example, never really took to the synthesiser. In the case of Pink Floyd it seems to me that their most experimental and innovative work (albeit the least commercial) ends with Dark Side, and the use of synthesis on later albums is a bit pedestrian. Ironically, the limitations of the Farfisa Compact Duo organ, the guitar techniques pioneered by Syd Barrett and the use of the Binson Echorec actually brought out a far more creative approach to sound.
As this book notes, synths, particularly those with presets, could actually make musicians lazy about the creation of sound. To use Brian Eno's word, the "easement" of constraints can actually deaden creativity; a fact that to some extent challenges this books account of the more or less unalloyed benefits of analog synthesisers.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2010
Analog Days offers something more than a history of the invention and development of the Moog Synthesizer. Following in the steps of those writers and critics who have formed what has become known as Science and Technology Studies, Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco emphasize the ways in which new technologies, such as the synthesizer, are both shaped by and in turn help to shape their cultural context. The result, in the case of the Moog, is a study not only of an instrument that helped to redefine the very nature of how music is produced and consumed, but of America in the sixties and early seventies, a period of enormous social and political change, where the ideas of revolution found their sound in the space-age fizz of overloaded oscillators and envelope generators.
One might expect a book published by Harvard UP to be written in a manner best suited to tenure-review committees, but Analog Days is largely free of technical jargon or theoretical terminology. Indeed, for the most part, the authors let the participants in the invention of the synthesizer tell their own stories, drawing on extensive interviews with everyone from Moog and Buchla to the people who once toiled over the soldering irons in their makeshift factories and shops. Of especial interest is the concern for gender, and how the women attracted to the new tools for the creation of sound struggled to find their place in the early electronic scene. The story of Suzanne Ciani's obsessive relationship with her Buchla 200 is positively moving.
Well-researched, and written for those who have no previous knowledge of how Voltage Control Filters work, this is more than the story of Robert Moog and his private obsession with electricity. It's the story of the late-twentieth century and how it switched on to a new sound. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2015
Fabulous insight into the development of the synth and its impact on the history of contemporary music. Not an overly technical book ..it deals as much with the musicians views and experiences as it does with those of the technicians who developed the instruments. Hard to imagine these days what the likes of Keith Emerson and co had to cope with back in the day, what with tuning issues and only able to hit a single note at a time.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2003
Excellent book, probably the best history of the synthesizer I have come across.
The authors manage to make the subject interesting by their attention to detail plus the exhaustive research they must have carried out. However this is an entertaining read if you are interested in synthesizers and how they developed.