MATRIXSYNTH: The Synthesizer in Mid 20th Century Science Fiction

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Synthesizer in Mid 20th Century Science Fiction


This one comes in via the author Nicholas C. Laudadio.


"This article examines the role electronic music and musical instruments played in the musicological discourse of the mid-twentieth century by analyzing two early sf stories about synthesizers: Charles Harness’s novella “The Rose” (1953) and Lloyd Biggle, Jr’s short story 'The Tunesmith' (1957). It argues that science fiction echoed both the concerns of critics fearful that new electronic forms would “dehumanize” music and the optimistic rhetoric of those who dreamt of the technology’s enormous potential. I argue that by examining sf’s contribution to the perception of electronic music and musical instruments, one can find a prescient analysis of the consequences of an increasingly technologized culture, as well as a farsighted and thoughtful analysis of a nascent technology that would soon become one of the most significant cultural developments of the twentieth century."

Unfortunately the full article is currently only available to those with library access to JSTOR, which should include most university students. If you have access, enjoy.

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