David Wright (RCM)
Mechanized music and the art of critical reinvention
‘It is really surprising how many members of choirs, orchestral and choral societies there are who perform their allotted tasks and have little or no interest in music, comprehensively speaking’. This, in 1918, was one author’s view of the prevailing musical culture. So was music reproduced by mechanical means a better way of expanding the individual music lover’s taste and awareness? Certainly the democratizing potential of recorded music was a strongly emphasized benefit of this developing, though controversial technology. But what was the effect of the gramophone on the way that people wrote about music? Did it compel critics to reinvent their approach in order to give their work continuing relevance in terms of the new technology? This paper looks at some aspects of the interplay between the new technology and the writing it generated, and at some of the opportunities to reshape musical discourse that recording opened up. It also considers whether involvement with the technology, and concern for the aesthetics of design, became something of a trope for the musical experience of some writers and gramophone converts alike.
V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL
Seminar Room A, Research Department, 17.15-19.00
Nearest tube: South Kensington (link to map)
Please note that the V&A Museum closes at 17.45 on Mondays, so latecomers (after 17.30) cannot be admitted. Seminar Room A is found at the top of the Ceramics staircase, above the Silver Gallery.