Consuming Music, Commodifying Sound, 1750-1850

Yale University
October 5-6, 2012


The period from 1750 to 1850 witnessed unprecedented growth in the musical marketplace. This was an age in which the proliferation of print technologies, the widening distribution of instruments for domestic use, and the gradual establishment of public music institutions across England and the Continent altered the patterns of circulation for music in its printed and sounding form.

“Consuming Music, Commodifying Sound” investigates this long historical moment from a multiplicity of perspectives: What role did burgeoning consumerism play in the formation of taste and consumer identity? In what ways did the commodification of music parallel the commodification of other material goods? What can be learned, for instance, from placing the commercialization of music in the context of visual culture? What effects did political institutions have on the climates of consumption across Europe? Is there a relationship between patterns of consumption and musical style? Finally, who were music marketers, and who were music consumers?

Proposals for papers examining musical consumerism using a range of interdisciplinary approaches and theoretical models are encouraged.

350-word abstracts for 20-minute proposed talks should be submitted as PDF or Word documents to at by March 1, 2012.