“One of these days it will come to pass that someone will present us with… something like a box within which melodies would be fixed and retained, the way the camera fixes images,” explained one French photographer in the 1860s, over a decade before the first phonograph was invented.

Kronos Quartet The Kronos Quartet. Photo © Jay Blakesburg

It would be so effective, he said, that “a family, I imagine, finding itself prevented from attending...

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