Instruments for New Music: Sound, Technology, and Modernism

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Univ of California Press, 2016 - Music - 236 pages
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Player pianos, radio-electric circuits, gramophone records, and optical sound film—these were the cutting-edge acoustic technologies of the early twentieth century, and for many musicians and artists of the time, these devices were also the implements of a musical revolution. Instruments for New Music traces a diffuse network of cultural agents who shared the belief that a truly modern music could be attained only through a radical challenge to the technological foundations of the art. Centered in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s, the movement to create new instruments encompassed a broad spectrum of experiments, from the exploration of microtonal tunings and exotic tone colors to the ability to compose directly for automatic musical machines. This movement comprised composers, inventors, and visual artists, including Paul Hindemith, Ernst Toch, Jörg Mager, Friedrich Trautwein, László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Ruttmann, and Oskar Fischinger. Patteson’s fascinating study combines an artifact-oriented history of new music in the early twentieth century with an astute revisiting of still-relevant debates about the relationship between technology and the arts.

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Excerpt of the piano roll for Hans Haasss Intermezzo 1927 21
Juxtaposition of a painting by Fernand Léger and a drawing of
Mechanical Instruments
drilling machine 1923
Technical illustration of the WelteMignon reproducing pia no
Cover of Musik und Maschine special issue of Musikblätter des Anbruch 1926
Oskar Schlemmers costume sketches for the Triadic Ballet
Schematic representation of the Triadic Ballets overall struc ture
Technical draft of Jörg Magers crankoperated electric instru ment ca 1924
Léon Theremin and Jörg Mager 1927
Jörg Mager and an assistant in the laboratory 1927
Jörg Magers notation system for the division of the octave into seventytwo equal intervals
Jörg Mager playing the threemanual Partiturophon ca 1930
Media Instruments
The Expanding Instrumentarium

Paul Hindemith composing on a piano roll ca 1926
Jörg Mager and Electric Music
An artists rendering of Lee de Forests Audion Piano 1915

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About the author (2016)

Thomas Patteson is Professor of Music History at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He is also Associate Curator for Bowerbird, a performing organization that presents contemporary music, film, and dance.

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