Mechanical Instruments and Phonography: The Recording Angel of historiography

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Abstract

This article strives to examine the historical narrative of music recording in its acoustic era (from 1877 to the late 1920s), at a time when competing technologies for capturing and registering sound and music were being incorporated into everyday life. Moreover, it analyses the significant chronological overlap of analogue and digital media and processes of recording. This sets the stage for a historiographical account that places the interaction between these two types of media at the focal point of a wider narrative of modernity. In this process, my article aims to trace a relationship between people and their past through the field of sound studies. On the one hand, the study of sound has been a frequent presence in areas like musicology, anthropology, sociology, history, or architecture. Nevertheless, it has mostly been perceived as a marginal or secondary approach within those disciplines. This clearly contrasts with the predominance of recorded sound in the historical narrative of both music and modernity. For example, the recent release of phonographic recordings of hand-played rolls by famous pianists illustrates this tendency; this demonstrates that our relationship with the sounds from the past is predominantly created through what was perceived in the beginning of the twentieth century as one among several competing technologies
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)online
JournalRadical Musicology
Volume6
Issue numberNA
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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