The Speed of Sound

The Speed of Sound

Breaking the Barrier Between Music and Technology

Book - 2016 | First edition
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"The 1980s New Wave star-turned-Silicon Valley entrepreneur traces his disadvantaged early years in a London bedsit, creation of the breakout hit "She Blinded Me With Science" and role in pioneering the use of MP3s in cellphones,"--NoveList.
Publisher: New York : Flatiron Books, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781250071842
Branch Call Number: 780.92 D686S 2016
Characteristics: viii, 277 pages ; 25 cm


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Jan 09, 2017

Growing up in the 80s, I was, of course, exposed to Dolby's "She Blinded Me with Science" (both as a single and the video) but never bought any of his albums until about 5 years ago. I don't know why. "The Golden Age of Wireless" is an absolutely brilliant album, and I was horrified to discover, while reading this book, that Dolby was all of 21 when it came out. I also bought his second album, which came out soon after his first, and it wasn't so impressive. I've seen him a couple of time since then, once when he was talking about his online interactive game (which was a surprise because we thought this was a concert in a small venue) and once at an actual concert at Park West. He is a curious performer. But I knew he had ventured into digital music early in the game and was curious about his life, and thus I have been reading his book.

After gobsmacking the reading audience with a phenomenal amount of name-dropping (and his connection with those names) in the beginning of the book, the narrative slows to a crawl once Dolby gets to his company-building in the dotcom era. While my geeky husband might get into the references to the technical aspects of putting music on web pages and into phone, my eyes glazed over and I found it really hard to care.

What is most noticeable, though, is the lack of Thomas Dolby in Dolby's own memoir. While he recounts how old he was, where he was, who he met, how awful the music industry is, he never really get any idea of who Thomas Dolby is. The best we get is that he thinks the original Star Wars was a substandard movie.

So if you're interested in knowing who Dolby knew early on, and what people he was able to work with then, this book may satisfy you. But if you're looking to find out what makes Thomas Dolby tick, what he thinks, how he feels about things, you won't find it here. It is a superficial account of the days of his life, about as authentic as the synthesizers he is so found of using.


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