NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1887 __ « A Crystal Age »
William Henry Hudson (1841-1922)
Comment : Some mystical and visionary writings of the nineteenth century [...] contains descriptions of musical possibilities enabled by new technologies that prefigure electronic music. A typical example occurs in the novel "A Crystal Age" by W.H. Hudson, in which seven highly polished brass globes hover in the air, driven by an unknown power and emitting sound until the air is "palpitating with strange exquisite harmony". (Andrew Hugill)A Crystal Age is a utopian novel written by W. H. Hudson, first published in 1887. The book has been called a "significant S-F milestone" and has been noted for its anticipation of the "modern ecological mysticism" that would evolve a century later. The book was first issued anonymously in 1887. The second edition of 1906 identified the author by name, and included a Preface by Hudson. The third edition of 1916 added a Foreword by Clifford Smith. A young man is transported into the future, to a changed earth where men live in peace with each other and in harmony with the planet. As he struggles to come to grips with the contrast of his old life, he falls in love with one of the women of the family who have ‘adopted’ him. W.H. Hudson’s classic fantasy describes his vision of a dystopian future. (Compiled from various sources)
Original excerpt : « At one side, somewhere about the center of the room, there was a broad raised place, or dais, with a couch on it, on which the father was reclining at his ease. Beside the couch stood a lectern on which a large volume rested, and before him there was a brass box or cabinet, and behind the couch seven polished brass globes were ranged, suspended on axles resting on bronze frames. These globes varied in size, the largest being not less than about twelve feet in circumference. » (p.49 [...] We were again assembled in the great room, the venerable father reclining at his ease on his throne-like couch near the brass globes, while the others pursued their various occupations as on the former evening. Not being able to get near Yolett)
Source : Hugill, Andrew (2007), "The Origins of Electronic Music", In “Electronic Music - The Cambridge Companion to electronic Music", Edited by Nick Collins & Julio d'Escrivàn Rincón, Cambridge University Press, pp. 11-12.
Source : Hudson, W. H. [Anonymous] (1887), “A Crystal Age”, London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1887.

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