Vinyl Records: Background information when reading The Music Shop

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The Music Shop

A Novel

by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce X
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
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    Jan 2018, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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Beyond the Book:
Vinyl Records

Print Review

Despite the many digital streaming options for listening to music, vinyl records are still popular with some listeners. Like Frank in The Music Shop, many music aficionados love the sound quality of vinyl records and nostalgia has increased their popularity. Vinyl records still comprise a noticeable portion of the market. According to the Nielsen Music Year-end Report, in 2017, vinyl records accounted for 14% of all music sales.

Edison Phonograph The first sound recordings, developed in 1857, created visual graph renderings of sound waves, though they lacked playback capability. In the 1870s, Thomas Edison created the first phonograph—the first device able to record and play back sounds. Although he experimented with disc formats, he ultimately chose to develop a cylinder-shaped device.

In 1889, Emile Berliner created the lateral-cut music recording disk we know and love. These flat discs were easier to store, and more music could be recorded on them. However, made of shellac resin, the discs were extremely fragile. In 1930 the company RCA Victor invented the sturdier vinyl-based record. These were used by U.S. Armed Forces to ship music and radio programs to overseas troops during World War II. The 12-inch records, developed in 1948, accommodated a full collection of tunes or entire symphonies, rather than only a couple of selections.

Because of their durability, vinyl records have attracted serious collectors, with some albums valued at several thousand dollars. The best traveled records in the universe are the Golden Records—a collection of musical selections from numerous cultures and eras—playing aboard Voyager 1 and 2.

Finally, I should add that it seems fitting that The Music Shop has its own musical playlist, and yet it's a bit ironic that a book championing the vinyl record posts this playlist online.

Picture of Edison wax cylinder phonograph, circa 1899 by Normal Bruderhofer

Article by Sarah Tomp

This article is from the February 21, 2018 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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