Live Wires

A History of Electronic Music

Daniel Warner

Live Wires

Daniel Warner

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 8 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth $25.00 ISBN: 9781780238241 Published December 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Sit through any live stage production these days and you’re bound to hear the sing-song twerping of a cell phone. We live in an electronic world, saturated with electronic sounds. Yet, electronic sounds aren’t a new phenomenon; they have long permeated our sonic landscape. In Live Wires, Daniel Warner explores how five key electronic technologies—the tape recorder, circuit, computer, microphone, and turntable—have revolutionized musical thought.

Electronic music began as the otherworldly sounds of the film score for the 1956 film Forbidden Planet and the rarefied, new timbres of Stockhausen’s Kontakte a few years later, and is now a common soundscape in technology, media, and an array of music genres. The rise of a new audio culture has enabled more people than ever before to produce and listen to electronic music, from isolated experimenters, classical musicians, and jazz musicians to rock musicians, sound recordists, and newer generations of electronic musicians making hiphop, house, techno, and ambient music. Even the electrosonic debris of the world—glitches, bursts of amplitude and frequency modulated radio transmissions, fragments of media speech, and noise—find their way into our musical lives. Warner argues that the prevalence of electronic music means we are not only listening to electronic sounds, but thinking about them, finding new meanings in them, experimenting with them, and rehearing them as listeners and makers.

The book is peppered throughout with engaging anecdotes from the artists, engineers, and creators involved in the production of electronic music. It features the work of major figures in electronic music, including Schaeffer, Oliveros, Xenakis, Eno, Grandmaster Flash, Francisco López, and Juan Atkins. Live Wires is an arresting discussion of the powerful musical ideas that are being recycled, rethought, and remixed by the most interesting electronic composers and musicians today.
Contents
Introduction
1 Tape Recorder
2 Circuits
3 Turntable and Record
4 Microphone
5 Computers
Epilogue
 
Recommended Listening
References
Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index
 
Review Quotes
Spectrum Culture
“The writing is easy to read, knowledgeable without being painfully esoteric. A remarkable Recommended Listening appendix should keep us all busy for at least a decade to come. . . . We are merely passengers on this intellectually stimulating and frequently entertaining ride. . . . This is a wonderful guide through a still-evolving phenomena and one that now, more than ever, deserves our attention.”
Shindig!
“The key to success with a book of this type is balance; too much detail and the layman is left baffled, but too little leaves more informed readers with a craving for chewy morsels of depth. Where authors such as Simon Reynolds employed a sociological approach in Energy Flash and David Toop’s Ocean Of Sound was one of philosophy, Warner examines technology in order to analyze the music. He gets it just about right. . . . Where the author succeeds is by injecting a real sense of his own passion into the text. . . . Where descriptive sections could have been burdened with the dryness of unnecessary academic heft, they are lightened here by an authorial style that indicates a love of the music alongside a wealth of knowledge. Definitely best consumed whilst imbibing his excellent chapter of recommended listening.”
BBC Music Magazine
"Warner gives us just enough theory to grasp the significance of each development or key work. It’s a good introduction to the artistic aims and means of an ever-expanding sound world, and—from Varèse to Blondie to Squarepusher to DJ Shadow—makes for an invigorating and nostalgic playlist.”
ElectroWOW
“If we dare mention Christmas, this book would make a perfect stocking filler for Electronica fans . . . oh, right. Yes, that’s you. Self-gift?”
Benjamin Boretz, composer
“There can’t really be two ways to say this: Warner’s Live Wires is a good book. Warner’s intimately experiential/technical descriptions of his favorite instances of every kind and genre of electronic music in the experimental culture—a culture that almost obliterated the boundaries between ‘classical’ and ‘pop’—will get you right inside of his sensitively perceptive ear and his deep knowledge and understanding of the sense and implication of what he has, and you will, come to hear.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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