14th Oct 2014
So much more than music: the player piano, material culture and gender politics
Cecilia Björkén-Nyberg, Halmstadt University, Sweden.
Sound technology was a means of giving expression to new patterns that were emerging in Edwardian society. These changes were reified in the early, unsophisticated piano roll which was an odd mixture of decorative Victorian arabesques and functional machine code. As the traditional music score was run through thepaper-punching machine, the composer’s intentions were often deleted in the process and replaced with rudimentary tempo instructions in stencil. What remained was a script of telegraphic code to be deciphered at will, not least by the many women who had previously felt their subjectivity stifled in gendered music-making.