Here’s a term that you might have come across in your readings on rock history: wall of sound. What, exactly, is that?
The first use of this term goes back to 1884 when the New York Times wrote a story about the Nibelungen Theatre in Bayreuth, Germany. It was designed by composer Richard Wagner who for the first time put the orchestra in a pit in front of the stage out of sight of the audience, creating an invisible “wall of sound” for the performance.
In the 1950s, a band leader named Stan Kenton had his outfit described as a “wall of sound” because of the vast amount of music his band could generate.
A few years later, producer Phil Spector’s in-your-face studio technique was given that name. And in the 1970s, the Grateful Dead unveiled their custom-built PA system, which they called, yes, “The Wall of Sound.”