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Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music [Paperback]

Mark Katz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Oct 2010
There is more to sound recording than just recording sound. Far from being simply a tool for the preservation of music, the technology is a catalyst. In this award-winning text, Mark Katz provides a wide-ranging, deeply informative, consistently entertaining history of recording's profound impact on the musical life of the past century, from Edison to the Internet. Fully revised and updated, this new edition adds coverage of mashups and Auto-Tune, explores recent developments in file-sharing, and includes an expanded conclusion and bibliography.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Revised edition edition (15 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520261054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520261051
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"I only wish I had put as much thought into making records as Mark Katz does in appreciating and analyzing them. I've always said that what I do is not rocket science but critiques like this make it sound like it has a place in modern culture." - Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, composer, producer, DJ; "Katz provides a model of how studies of music and technology should be done." - Tim Taylor, author of Global Pop" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark Katz is Associate Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the author of the forthcoming Groove Music.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book on the history of sound recording 22 Feb 2010
This book is covers greatly the history of sound recording. Especially the early history from the mid 19th century until the coming of CD in the 1980's is covered in depth with interesting stories. I'm using this book as one of my main sources for my ethnomusicology master's thesis on the coming of CD, even though this book doesn't have so much to say about that subject. However, it gives a lot of inspiration on how a history of a technology can be written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mark katz 18 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very useful book for music students, it covers history, present and future of popular music and well written, not boring like other academic books
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars academic and entertaining 29 Nov 2009
In summary, this is a well-researched , relevant , pleasant to read book , from a broadminded author who shows his capability to think laterally. The book provides sufficient evidence to enforce the thesis that technology has changed the way how we experience music.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read. 8 Sep 2005
By Hugh Mckee - Published on
Although being a scholarly work, fully footnoted and with a complete bibliograpy this book, unlike much of academic production, is a great read.

I enjoyed it immensly.

It is a good companion to Michael Channan's book on the same topic."Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording and Its Effects on Music".

If you are interested in the history of recording or just curious about how what we listen to came to be the way it is this book will delight you.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful exploration of the topic, very readable! 14 April 2012
By MatthewT - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I use this book as a central text in music education courses I teach at the University of Illinois (undergraduate through doctoral), and my students overwhelmingly find it fascinating and readable. The author brings a wealth of primary sources that really convey how sound recording and music making co-evolved over the twentieth century.

This spring (2012) I had a chance to read the revised edition with a doctoral seminar, and I was very impressed with the number of refinements, extensions, and additional references. The revised edition reads as though Katz spoke with admirers and critics--some sections students found less convincing in the first edition have been greatly improved, and the best parts are untouched or improved. Given that many second editions today are cranked out simply to allow the publisher an opportunity to cut down on book reselling, a revision this extensive is uncommon and very welcome.

There are many wonderful books that deal with sound recording today, and having read many this remains the book I recommend most frequently.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound insights for record-lovers and music-lovers 2 Jun 2010
By Michael Tiemann - Published on
I greatly enjoy reading books that cover ground that I think I know well, then proceed to reveal insights far deeper than any I'd yet contemplated. Mark Katz has done this with some of my favorite subjects, music, records and recording technology, and then proceeds to add an entirely new dimension to my understanding of how these all relate (and continue to evolve together). To do this, he remixes a great number of insights coming from previous works I have come to know and love, including Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, and a widely eclectic appreciation of recorded music that I also share.

And I am not alone in my appreciation for this book. In 2007 it won the Hacker Prize, which provided the following citation:

The Hacker Prize rewards exceptional scholarship that reaches a broad audience. The audience so captured by Capturing Sound is primarily an undergraduate one, thus Katz has presented the Committee with a welcome opportunity to reward pedagogical writing. Textbooks are a genre that always challenge, and usually defeat, even the best of writers. Breaking the mold of the seemingly objective, chronologically-impelled narrative, Katz has produced a very different kind of work that succeeds on three different levels, all of which are important to historians of technology.

I agree, and I think it will give other readers a new-found appreciation and understanding of their musical tastes and collections. And with the knowledge it imparts, you may find yourself discovering new evidence of the book's primary thesis: the phonograph effect. Even in today's world of CDs and MP3s (which, do not fear, Katz treats thoroughly).
11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Successful in vibrato and Hindemith, dangerously off course on mediation, IP, & hip hop 12 Jan 2011
By Dude - Published on
Katz has a formal background in musicology, which means basically, extensive training in the history of western classical music.

Though the language and tone of the book is meant to avoid academic linguistic density, this paradigm (of classical music) is strongly evident in his methods, pacing, argument structures, and conclusions.

Sadly, there is absolutely no attempt at an ethno/socio/anthropo-logical approach in the book. So Katz is taking a background in classical melodic & harmonic & structural theory and history, and then applying it to a phenomenon (recorded sound) that has become inextricably wound up in SOCIAL factors of the day. How people share music is less purely musical phenomenon and much more largely a social one. Katz does not successfully convey the growing wealth of thought surrounding these studies.

By focusing solely on music in the recorded medium, he ignores the forest for the tree: what is happening with newspapers, videos, movies, books, theater, poety -- in other words, ALL MEDIA are undergoing transformation. To take an arbitrary slice out of this dense network of practices and consumer/audience expectations is a very difficult task, and I don't feel it's done successfully, here.

The overall form is a loose chronological history, which falls prey to the danger of technological determinism, that one scenario led to the next, inventions directly resulting in practices, and so on, until we got to where we are today. Katz chooses not to confront the paradigm shift of decentralized communications and media distribution. It's all about a progression of distribution media and their physical properties.

Also, very little consideration was given to the idea of authorship, intellectual property, sampling as an artistic vs. reproductive art, etc. The ideas are passed-over during a discussion of sampling, but not elaborated.

Where Katz succeeds is in his realm of expertise: classical music. His treatment of records and violin vibrato and Hindemith's grammophone music are well executed reflections of those particular moments of history. But in ignoring huge areas of communications studies and giving an extremely weak treatment of hip hop, Katz shadows these achievements.

Katz' colorful description of a DJ battle, described in fantastical imagery, are absolutely cringe-inducing to me, personally. Given the well-acknowledged dangers of exoticism and neo-colonialism in ethnographic work, Katz is remiss for slipping into a language that could be taken as a neo-colonial musicological expedition. It is quite telling that he lists no references to Steven Feld's work. This chapter prompts me to imagine a photograph of him posing, one knee hiked up, on a speaker cabinet, holding his jungle-explorer's helmet against his waist, so proud of the discovery he is about to share with the world: the DJ....
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Insight 5 July 2008
By D. Hadley - Published on
This book gives the reader great insight on the effects of recorded music and the effects on society. A must read for anyone into music.
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