Robert Fink, Melinda Latour, and Zachary Wallmark, eds.

The Relentless Pursuit of Tone

Timbre in Popular Music

Oxford University Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in MusicNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books Network October 12, 2018 Kimberly Mack

In The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music (Oxford University Press, 2018), editors Robert Fink, Melinda Latour, and Zachary Wallmark curate a wide-ranging...

In The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music (Oxford University Press, 2018), editors Robert Fink, Melinda Latour, and Zachary Wallmark curate a wide-ranging collection of essays about the function of tone and timbre in popular music. Comprised of four sections focused on genre, voice, instrument, and production, The Relentless Pursuit of Tone engages diverse popular music genres and employs varied theoretical and methodological approaches. The book begins with an ethnographic study about timbre in the 1990s Bay Area rave scene by Cornelia Fales. It concludes with a discussion about timbre in contemporary recording production and electronic dance music by Simon Zagorski-Thomas, along with an afterword by Simon Frith. In between are essays that engage tone in multiple musical genres such as death metal and country, in recording techniques like Auto-Tune and reverb, and through considerations of voice and assorted instruments, including the electric guitar and synthesizer. A companion website with music examples, videos, and images can be accessed here.


Kimberly Mack holds a Ph.D. in English from UCLA, and she is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. Her book, Fade to Black: Blues Music and the Art of Narrative Self-Invention from Bessie Smith to Jack White, is under contract with the University of Massachusetts Press. She is also a music journalist who has contributed her work to national and international publications, including Music ConnectionVillage VoiceRelixPopMatters, and Hot Press.