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MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Sign, Storage, Transmission) Paperback


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MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Sign, Storage, Transmission) + The Sound Studies Reader + The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction
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Product Details

  • Series: Sign, Storage, Transmission
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822352877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822352877
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Rigorous and quietly philosophical, MP3 situates this world-conquering format in a broader context than the familiar stories of college kids downloading wild and the death of the recording industry. . . . Sterne’s fascination with the MP3 and its possibilities yields a book that is, really, a history of auditory culture’s startling attempts to beam sound across great distances. . . . Sterne’s MP3 is an important work in various academic fields, but his probing questions about the future of digital culture have consequences beyond the specialized reader.” - Hua Hsu, Slate


“Sterne exhaustively and eloquently traces the history of the mp3 from the initial hearing model developed in Bell Labs to the current debates about piracy. As the author argues, each time we rip a CD to our hard drives, we're not only saving space in our living rooms or ensuring we have the appropriate gym soundtrack, but also reaffirming a fundamental idea about the limits of human perception.” - Eric Harvey, Pitchfork


“Unzip an MP3 and the weirdest stuff starts popping out. MP3: The Meaning Of A Format is not a dry technical or economic analysis of
the Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer III audio format . . . . Instead, Jonathan Sterne’s book unravels the paradigms and ideas that underpin the
MP3. . . . It’s an unruly, obsessive and oddly fascinating book, as befits Duke University Press’s eclectic and original texts on music and sound.” - Derek Walmsley, The Wire


“Sterne’s preoccupation is with the fallacy of what one might call the official, Whig history of sound recording—a constant ascension to better fidelity, the triumph of signal over noise, Instead, he emphasizes the double movement where technology makes the musical signal more and more compressed, more ‘lousy’ than it ever was before, as is the case with the information in an MP3. . . . [T]here is no denying that it adds a necessary historical dimension to the study of music’s workings.” - Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker


“The last decade has been a truly exciting one in cultural studies of sound, largely due to the generous and catalytic contributions of Jonathan Sterne...the importance of this book for critical sound studies is undeniable.” - Carolyn Elerding, Reviews in Cultural Theory


"MP3: The Meaning of a Format is packed with great stories. It's a brilliant book about how we listen and how we make music. It traces the way MP3s have been key to the way technology is revolutionizing music."—Laurie Anderson, artist/musician


"As we continue to inhabit the digital universe created by the invention of the computer, Jonathan Sterne provides us with an important cultural history and theory of the pervasive MP3 audio format. His insights go deep into our basic ideas of hearing and listening, as well as of information, showing how these ideas are tied to twentieth-century media."—Pauline Oliveros, composer and improviser, founder of the Deep Listening Institute, and Distinguished Research Professor of Music, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


"In this authoritative and fascinating book, Jonathan Sterne, a leading scholar of sound studies, traces MP3 technology back to its roots in telephone research. His book is about not only how musical experience became equated with one format but also how subjectivity itself is formatted. Sterne decompresses history to weave a wonderful tale of the many surprising links and twists embedded in those tiny files."—Trevor Pinch, coauthor of Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer


“Rigorous and quietly philosophical, MP3 situates this world-conquering format in a broader context than the familiar stories of college kids downloading wild and the death of the recording industry. . . . Sterne’s fascination with the MP3 and its possibilities yields a book that is, really, a history of auditory culture’s startling attempts to beam sound across great distances. . . . Sterne’s MP3 is an important work in various academic fields, but his probing questions about the future of digital culture have consequences beyond the specialized reader.”
(Hua Hsu, Slate)

“Sterne exhaustively and eloquently traces the history of the mp3 from the initial hearing model developed in Bell Labs to the current debates about piracy. As the author argues, each time we rip a CD to our hard drives, we're not only saving space in our living rooms or ensuring we have the appropriate gym soundtrack, but also reaffirming a fundamental idea about the limits of human perception.”
(Eric Harvey, Pitchfork)

“Sterne’s preoccupation is with the fallacy of what one might call the official, Whig history of sound recording—a constant ascension to better fidelity, the triumph of signal over noise, Instead, he emphasizes the double movement where technology makes the musical signal more and more compressed, more ‘lousy’ than it ever was before, as is the case with the information in an MP3. . . . [T]here is no denying that it adds a necessary historical dimension to the study of music’s workings.”
(Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker)

“Unzip an MP3 and the weirdest stuff starts popping out. MP3: The Meaning Of A Format is not a dry technical or economic analysis of
the Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer III audio format . . . . Instead, Jonathan Sterne’s book unravels the paradigms and ideas that underpin the
MP3. . . . It’s an unruly, obsessive and oddly fascinating book, as befits Duke University Press’s eclectic and original texts on music and sound.”
(Derek Walmsley, The Wire)

About the Author

Jonathan Sterne teaches in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, and the History and Philosophy of Science Program at McGill University. He is the author of the award-winning book The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, also published by Duke University Press, and the editor of The Sound Studies Reader. Sterne has written for Tape Op, Punk Planet, Bad Subjects, and other alternative press venues. He also makes music and other audio works. Visit his website at http://sterneworks.org.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By perfect listener on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jonathan Sterne is simply great. If you want to lear about what is called as "Sound Studies" or "Aural studies" you definitely need to read his books, including this one. Clear, easy, documented and a enjoyable reading. A must. Someone should invest translating his books to other major languages.
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By david z on April 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unless you are interested in a lot of excruciating nomenclature and exhaustive details about every and all aspects of music formats, this is not going to be a fun read for you. I got about 20 pages in and gave up. Ugh.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Walter Figel on December 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever wonder what MP3 is really about and why it is important. Wonder what the standard (whatever that is) really means? Well if you really want to know the whys about how music is stored on your computer and iPod, then this is the book for you. It goes into great detail about all the hows and whys. Also talks about the next generation of standard formats and why they will do an even better job at reproducing music. Not for the technically challenged.
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