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A synesthetic title for a book which is a lavishly illustrated history of recorded sound, taking the reader through the four main eras of technical achievement – acoustic, electrical, magnetic and digital.

Each chapter contains a timeline of developments and a potted history of inventions, from Edison shouting ‘Mary had a little lamb’ and recording it on his phonograph in 1877, to Karlheinz Brandenburg’s work in the 1990s, compressing sound to mp3 format, leading to the current proliferation of peer-to-peer file-sharing services.

It strikes a good balance between the scientific and anecdotal, with particular inventors being singled out for stand-alone biographical sections (which sometimes leads to some duplication of information). The 850 images are mainly photos, not just of the recording and playing apparatus, but also of a plethora of fascinating album covers, labels, adverts and associated ephemera.

Curiosities abound: we have Captain Scott’s gramophone, recovered from one of his camps after his 1910 expedition and apparently still in good working order today; also a minuscule Mikiphone, the size of a large pocket watch, wound by key and with a celluloid horn that slotted on to the sound box and played ten-inch discs, unsurprisingly offering not very good sound at all.

Perhaps best of all there is the 1902 chocolate record player, a Stollwerck gramophone that played tiny chocolate discs that could be devoured after use.

Even more remarkable is that some records have survived, a compact storage compartment holding six ‘Schokoladedisken’. Perhaps some virtuous German children were more interested in feeding the soul than body.

FRANCIS MUZZU Read the full review on Agora Classica

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