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Ways of Hearing

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A writer-musician examines how the switch from analog to digital audio is changing our perceptions of time, space, love, money, and power.Our voices carry farther than ever before, thanks to digital media. But how are they being heard? In this book, Damon Krukowski examines how the switch from analog to digital audio is changing our perceptions of time, space, love, money, ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by MIT Press
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Rob Smith
Jul 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: music
I think it's kind of ironic for a book obsessed with the downsides of sleek digital music production, it's actually just the transcript from a sleek, digital NPR podcast.

That's all it literally is, and it's pretty okay. I should have figured given the marketing and publishing parallels to John Berger's Ways of Seeing that this would also have been something like a podcast. But unlike Berger's book, this one's a straight up transcript of the podcast episodes, complete with listing the music cues
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting, fun, and thoughtful look at sound, both ambient and musical.
Mark Mulvey
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Damon reminds us that our senses’ most fundamental task is not simply to entertain or distract us, but to situate ourselves within our surroundings. By enabling each of us to understand where we are, our senses allow us to understand who we are, as individuals located within networks of physical and social connections. Just as John Berger’s popular television series ‘Ways of Seeing’ showed viewers back in the 1970’s how to understand art—and the vision that art materializes—as a tool for locati ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-writing
undertaken as a podcast & turned into a book, putatively on the model of Berger's Ways of Seeing though that's just a smokescreen -- books are silent but not invisible. The analogy Krukowski may have liked is not-and-never-will-be exact. That said, there are intriguing things here, namely about connoisseurship and the mystical in any audio-philia. I have not yet returned to listen to the podcast, which could well have been done with more love than this meta commentary. At some point I will -- ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a cool book -- a speedy diversion into what it is to hear and to listen in the digital world. It's nostalgic, yes... but also inventive.

This book is the script to a podcast -- which I'm currently listening to. I'm one to tolerate repetition, and enjoy thinking on what each medium -- print and audio -- bring to this story; and how I experience the story through each medium a little differently.

Reading -- or the solo experience of turning down the exterior world to internalize a story -- r
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s sort of weird reading a transcript of a podcast series, but that actually worked for me the same way reading a play works. The actual argument about digital sound was less convincing. It’s clear that digital recording and all of its consequences have changed how we listen to, buy, and interact with music (& the world around us). I’m just not convinced that that change has been bad.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
As other reviewers have noted, aside from the addition of an introduction by Emily Thompson, and pictures, this is essentially just a transcript of Krukowski's podcast. It's not uninteresting, but, if you've thought at all about sound or music in the past 30 years, it's nothing new, and it only touches the surface of the issues raised.

I do have a couple of beefs with Krukowski's discussion of copyright and artist's rights generally. In Episode 4, "Money", pp. 78-79 Krukowski appears to claim tha
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is no doubt that Damon Krukowski is the right guy to be talking about music. He understands it at an intimate level where I either wished I could talk about it the same way, or that I could spend a couple hours picking his brain over a cup of coffee. Ways of Hearing is a curious book that doesn’t really have a thesis and is more of a work-in-progress. It discusses different aspects of music and noise. Really, it tries to distinguish between the two because even though this book is mostly a ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an engaging and delightful book about how we experience the world. The key examples in this book, which is essentially a transcription of the author's podcast, Ways of Hearing, come from music and sounds. [Full disclosure: I went to grad school with Damon and was at the first show his band Galaxie 500 played in a bar.]

The chapters are on Time, Space, Love, Money, Power, and Signal & Noise. Damon helps us understand how music means something different when recorded and played via analog v
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is actually (at least in part) a transcipted version of a podcast. Much of its content is a comparison between digital and analog methods of recording, and the characteristic distinctions between the two. Many music lovers notice something missing in digital sound; Krukowski digs into the specifics of what that/those something(s) is/are. For example, noise (as in "signal-to-noise" rather than loud clangor), room ambience, the spaces between things.

Really fascinating stuff; recommended
Steev Hise
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, politics, own-it
This is a really great book. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to get it and read it ASAP. But YMMV. I'm a sound/noise/music/art guy, so am definitely biased.

Anyway, it's about way more than sound and music. It's about what the internet and the digital world we're in now has done to us and our culture and our society.

The design of the book reminds me of McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage. The title is a nod to John Berger, and the book does a good job of aspiring to, but isn't quite get up to th
David Ashley
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A transcription of Damon's 6 part Ways of Hearing podcast series. A very light and relaxing but also interesting read, definitely has that easy going podcast vibe to it which works surprisingly well in book format.

It's very loosely based around the change from an analog to digital world and what that does for sound in its many forms. It's a lot warmer and relatable than it sounds! The design of the book is great with interesting formatting and images throughout although I wish it was physically
Michael Chojnacki
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A (blog turned into a) book that explores what happens when we move from an analogue to a digital music world. The author considers the technical, economical, sentimental aspects of that shift concluding that : removing 'noise' from 'signal' changes the nature of sound leaving behind lot behind we find near and dear. I have read this book while listening to the podcast, going back and forth. A few very valid points made by a the author/musical. ...more
Claudia Skelton
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This book focuses on how digital culture has changed the making and listening to our music. The author is a musician, author, and professor. Based on a podcast, this book summarizes how the shift from analog to digital audio has changed our perceptions of time, space, noise, and more. It also is about an aspect of how the digital world has changed our culture and society. (I may consider listening to the podcast.)
Jieying Zhang
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
One star for the pictures, one star for some key points that I can relate, and one last star for making me curious enough to listen to the podcast that I ended up enjoying (much more that the book). It's usually good to make a paper book audible but the other way round doesn't seem to work.. at least in this case. ...more
Sep 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a print rendition of a podcast on sound and hearing, signal and noise. Not being familiar with the podcast, I literally took it at its printed word. Krukowski raises interesting questions about what it means to have constant access to sound and constant exposure to noise. I also was fascinated to learn that digital time is not good at syncing with itself. Huh.

Jeremy Hatch
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The content is fine. I’m giving it three stars because the book, as such, is simply a transcript of a freely available podcast — albeit in an engagingly designed format filled with illustrations. But those two things add little of value to the podcast itself. I found the best use of the book was to read along while listening to the podcast. Other than that, not really worth the spend.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, music, sound
It is hard to convert a podcast into a book. Still, I believe the author and the graphic designer did an amazing job in this case. They converted the audio interludes into illustrations, plus they were also able to convey some sound effects by clever use of typography and fonts. The result is a book that is very easy to read as well as very beautiful to look at.
Scott Holstad
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
This topic is of great interest to me, but I think his The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World from just a couple of years ago was quite a bit better. I just sort of left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. If interested in the topic, I'd start with his previous one. ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Interesting to read the transcript of a podcast about sound without being able to hear the audio track. A lot of good food for thought that makes me think about sound and noise differently, but the sound is relevant to the argument.
Sammy Williams
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
I think I would have better enjoyed the podcast. Although he brought up interesting points, I don't feel like they were explored deeply enough. Sections about cell phones and digital elimination of noise were the most informative. ...more
Vuk Trifkovic
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Nice book - both graphically and in content. Lot of the stuff is interesting but bit artificial. Would totally read a 300-450 page expanded version.
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is good but the podcast was better
Scott Schneider
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure it was a good idea to translate a podcast about sound into print. It probably works much better in audio form. Maybe I should get the audiobook version of this podcast book. ...more
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked the podcast version better
May 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this for my Audio Culture and Digital Sound Production class, and we got to have a Zoom call with Damon at the end!
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: req, 2019, libr, male
A very good book that’s really a better podcast.

Damon Krukowski is very smart about how digital and analog audio are different NOT just as applies to contemporary recording of music, but also in how modern listeners interact with what they hear in non-musical contexts. The podcast, as an audible object, uses many techniques and opportunities for the listener to hear the points that Krukowski and his guests are making.

In book form, all the spoken text is there, with one or two additions (primar
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s fine. Listen to the podcast too for the full experience.
rated it really liked it
Jun 03, 2019
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Damon Krukowski is a writer and musician. Author of The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World, he has taught writing and sound (and writing about sound) at Harvard University. He was in the indie rock band Galaxie 500 and is currently one half of the folk-rock duo Damon & Naomi. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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