‘Early Recordings: the Impacts of a Transformative Technology’

Submission Deadline: 10 January 2020
Conference Location: Royal College of Music, London (UK)
Date: 23 April 2020

Programme Committee:
Barbara Gentili (Newcastle University)
Trevor Herbert (Royal College of Music)
Eva Moreda Rodriguez (University of Glasgow)
Richard Wistreich (Royal College of Music)

The aim of this one-day conference is to focus on the wider cultural and social impact of the technological development and dissemination of early recordings.

The investigation of early recordings has been a booming field in recent decades. Since the groundbreaking study of Robert Philip in 1992, the shift of interest in musicology from products to processes has progressively broadened the subject’s scope. Early recordings have been co-opted as new ‘texts’ for a variety of purposes, including studies in reception, sociology, cultural and media theory, and the history of technology (Cook, Clarke, Leech-Wilkinson and Rink, 2004).

The programme committee welcomes proposals from early-career researchers, postgraduate students and established experts who currently work on early recordings in the widest range of genres and perspectives.

Presentations will be welcome on a range of topics including, but not limited to:

  • The wider cultural significance of early recordings: what clues do they offer about aesthetic tastes of past societies and how do they reflect wider cultural trends (e.g. notions of gender and identity)?
  • Technological processes: recording technologies, mastering and pressing;
  • Early recordings as documents of past performance practices (stylistic gestures; register timbral division; instrumental emulation of vocal expressivity; methods of quantitative analysis; broadening of repertoires; rediscovery of neglected collections);
  • The impact of recordings on performance and concert practice;
  • Transnationalism: recordings as exemplars of national styles and identities; an exploration of the factors that determined which recordings were accepted as stylistic models, and which rejected, as they travelled beyond their countries of origin.

Abstracts for 20-minute papers or 30-minute lecture-recitals (maximum 250 words) and short biographies (120 words) should be sent to barbara.gentili@rcm.ac.uk by Friday 10th January 2020, including the applicant’s institutional affiliation and contact details. The programme committee will communicate its decision by 3 February 2020.

The day, which will include a concert of early recordings performed on an original EMG gramophone, will end with a roundtable session covering the main topics of the event.

There are a small number of travel bursaries which, generously offered by the Institute of Musical Research, will be available to postgraduate students or early career researchers without an academic affiliation. Please contact the conference organiser at barbara.gentili@rcm.ac.uk for information on how to apply.