Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

How Early America Sounded

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801441264
ISBN-10: 0801441269
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
Condition: Used - Good
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: DJ shows light-to-moderate edge wear. Boards show only minor shelf rubbing. Text shows minimal pencil marking but appears clean otherwise.
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
22 Used from $4.81
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
More Buying Choices
13 New from $24.67 22 Used from $4.81
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Top 20 lists in Books
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In contrast to the modern world, which is ruled by such visual inputs as newspapers, television and traffic signs, early America was a sound-oriented society, according to this engaging and original academic study. Colonists in the 17th century, for example, believed that thunder could kill. They used church bells, trumpets and drums to regulate their communities and assert social authority. And where today the written text is considered authoritative, early Americans paid more attention to the extra-linguistic components of speech such as accent and tone of voice; the "murmuring" of mobs, the "grumbling" of disgruntled servants and the "ranting" of religious dissenters was as important a gauge of meaning as the words themselves. Writing in a scholarly but accessible style, cultural historian Rath ranges widely over the many facets of the colonial American soundscape, from Native American myths about natural sounds to the musical traditions of slave communities. In making his case for the great paradigm shift from sound to vision in modern society, he sometimes overloads the evidence with historiographical weight, writing, for example, that "the first generation of colonists did not simply choose to believe in powerful sounds, they had no other set of beliefs by which to live." But when he sticks to the history of how sound was used and perceived in early America-especially in a fascinating chapter on how the acoustics of churches both advanced Protestant theological doctrines and subtly delineated the class hierarchies of the congregation-he opens a revealing window on the past. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


[T]his tour de force of original scholarship is suitable for all library collections. Indeed, its arguments merit recurrent reading." -- Library Journal, December 2003

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (January 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801441269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801441264
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,063,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I initially thought that this would be a worthy companion to A. Roger Ekirch's book "At Day's Close. Night in times past"-- and indeed it seemed to parallel the approach in the first sections -- but author and rock musician Rath had other objectives. By repeatedly shifting the focus, though all related to sound, his book loses its way and become less effective. Nonetheless, there is much of value here, particularly if each part is taken alone. The book is broadly divided into 5 sections: nature and the sonic environment; instruments for communication and communion; acoustic design of churches and meeting houses; the non-linguistic vocal sounds of cries, shouts, hoots, mumbles, and groans; and Native American songs and cries. The era covered is circa 1600 to 1750.

The book begins well. Rath examines the soundscape and how it affected cultural constructs, language and metaphors, philosophy, and religious interpretations. He noted oral societies, where the storyteller was also the historian, and differentiated them to the more modern literate societies where sight takes the leading role. In Colonial American, where sightlines were restricted by thick woods, people were more sensitive to sounds, both natural and human made, as they would alert and also locate. Rath particularly discusses thunder (versus lightning and later electricity) as a central cultural power and agent. Thunderclap, thunderbolt, thunderbirds, earthquakes as underground thunder, waterfalls and rapids as constant thundering: the loudest and most terrifying sound at the time was thunder and thunder was regarded as the divine or devilish force of destruction. The second part also captures interest with discussions of bells, whose own loudness were once thought to protect against thunder or at least disperse thunderclouds.
Read more ›
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
We are familiar with images of colonial America, but it never even occurred to me that the sounds of that period are un-discussed. Just reading about the way that sounds can be researched is enough reason to buy and read this book, but the image of a Native American listening hut and other sections make eye-opening and fascinating for those of us interested in how life was lived and experienced in other times.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By Pan on February 10, 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: cultures, ethnomusicology