Book Review: Théberge's Any Sound You Can Imagine


    Paul Théberge has taken on a pretty hefty job: documenting the history and direction of music-making and music-consuming technology. If this sounds like an academic tome of doctoral proportions, you might be right - it is clearly a heavily-researched and annotated text. But it's also a pretty interesting read if you are into music technology. Despite being written in 1997, Théberge is able to produce a fascinating ride for anyone interested in the systems behind both popular and experimental music creation.
    There are several books that have discussed the development of the Telharmonium, but few have looked into the Electric Sackbut, and even fewer that found the development of Transoniq Hacker magazine as an important addition to the environment. This is also one of the few books that I’ve read that offers as much attention to Dr. T’s software as to the Synclavier. Any Sound isn’t focused just on the companies with full-page ads - it is also focused on the companies that changed musicians’ working lives.
    It’s the job of historians to determine the winners and losers of history. This isn’t easy in the case of music technology, where very few of the popular devices of the 1980s (let alone the 1950s) bear even a slight resemblance to current technology. But Théberge pulls together strands of related technologies and the personalities behind them to create an interesting blend of technological history and pop culture.
    Any Sound You Can ImaginePaul Théberge Wesleyan University Press, 1997 ISBN: 0-8195-6309-9