Symposium Early Recording Technologies: Transnational Practices, History and Heritage

The symposium ‘Early Recording Technologies: Transnational Practices, History and Heritage’ will take place on Friday 15th June at the University of Glasgow (James Arnott Theatre, Gilmorehill Halls + Concert Hall). Please visit our Eventbrite page to check the full programme and register (for free).

About the symposium:

The first fifty years of the record industry, from the invention of the phonograph by T.A. Edison in 1877 to the advent of electrical recording in 1925, changed in dramatic and irreversible ways how people performed, listened to and thought about music and sound; archiving and transmission of musical culture was also greatly challenged. At the turn of the twentieth century, the record industry constituted one of the earliest and most vibrant global industries, relying on a complex yet often little-known infrastructure.

Against a homogenising or flattening history of the industry, we would like to retrace and interrogate the persisting heterogeneity of practices, interpretations and discourses accompanying the rise of phonography. By bringing together scholars from across Europe, as well as sound archivists and sound artists, this one-day symposium intends to uncover these multi-layered processes in a culturally and contextually sensitive way. With contributions focusing on the development of the recording industry at the local, national and transnational levels, the nascent aesthetics of recorded sound and the changes it brought to listening, the repertoires registered in early recordings and the changing role of recording technologies in memory practices, the symposium will ask the following questions:

  • How were the early reception and uses of sound recording technologies informed by local practices and cultural specificities across Europe?
  • How did the advent of phonography, reciprocally, challenge regional identities and modes of cultural production?
  • What can we learn from the study of such practices and specificities in order to build the foundations of a differential transnational history of phonography that contextualizes the listening and creative remediation of such recordings, increasingly available nowadays through online collections and repositories?
  • How can we navigate and productively theorise the phonographic archive without succumbing to its overwhelming vastness?