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Selling Sounds (Chap. 8: The Musical Soundscape of Modernity)

CHAP. 8 – THE MUSICAL SOUNDSCAPE OF MODERNITY

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A cut-away view of an Aeolian Player Mechanism in 1914. (Courtesy of the Pianola Institute)

Numerous composers, including Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Toch, wrote experimental compositions for the player-piano, decades before Conlon Nancarrow’s landmark player-piano works starting in the late 1940s. Here’s a composition by Ernst Toch, “Study IV: Der Jongleur,” which comes from the amazing CD Piano Music Without Limits: Original Compositions of the 1920s (Player Piano Volume 4) (MDG 645 1404-2).

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(Courtesy of MDG)

In 1930, Paul Hindemith, Toch’s contemporary,  premiered a new type of recording at the Neue Musik Berlin festival. These “trick recordings” (Trickaufnahmen) marked some of the first examples of creating a new kind of music out of the manipulation of records—in effect, some of the first experiments in what we know today as turntablism. For example, what follows is an excerpt of a recording in which Hindemith played with the speed of numerous turntables to create a multi-instrument study of harmony and counterpoint.

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(Courtesy of Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung PK. For more on Hindemith’s Trickaufnahmen, see Mark Katz’s Capturing Sound.)

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