This new book takes a visual journey through nearly 200 years of recorded sound





The art of sound. 

Modern humans have been roaming Mother Earth for roughly the last 200,000 years, and jamming out to epic flute solos as long as 43,000 years ago, but the ability to capture, reproduce, and amplify sound is extremely recent: within the last two hundred years.

Read more: British Library launches sound preservation project to rescue half a million recordings

The Art of Sound – A Visual History for Audiophiles – a new book created by Terry Burrows, in collaboration with the EMI (Electronic and Musical Industries) trust – looks to document the rapid-fire development of how sound has been recorded, by taking you through this journey visually.

The Art of Sound divides the modern recorded audio age into four sections. These four eras of sorts – acoustic, electrical, magnetic and digital – apparently represent major milestones in the way sound has been recording in the past 160 years. Each part features blueprints of recording devices from that particular period, along with an explanation of how the era is defined.

Rather than capturing “the truly global story of the evolution of sound recording and playback”, The Art of Sound paints a more limited, western-centric view, with interesting visual insights into the development of modern recording devices that focuses heavily on the first 100 years of this period.

From Scott de Martinville’s invention of the phonoautograph in 1857 to the way in which the internet has transformed how music is shared; from sepia-hued early 20th century photographs of London’s first recording studio to glamour shots of a Sonos speaker with iPhone perched at its centre, The Art of Sound is at its best when showcasing rarer devices from the late 1800s to early 1900s.


In that sense the book gives an interesting, visual ride through some of “the media used across time for the storage of music”, forgoing comprehensiveness in favour of aesthetics of the objects themselves.

Order a copy here.