NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1899 __ Distance concert
Comment : In 1899, a reporter from the Paris journal L’Illustration observed in connection with a visit in one of these modern studios that musicians were not dressed up for the concert, nor was there any festive atmosphere, even though the members of the gramophone orchestra conducted themselves ‘comme s’ils étaient en scène, devant le public, avec les gestes, la mimique, les tics traditionnels ‘ (as if they were on a stage in front of an audience, with the traditional gestures, mime and facial expressions). This seemed strange because there was no audience; they were replaced by enormous gramophone horns to which even the conductor had surrendered his central position. Consequently, there was neither applause nor hissing; the spécialiste who oversaw the recordings spoke the title of the next piece into the phonograph or repeated the previous one until the recording was perfect. (L’Illustration, n° 2947, Paris 1899)Concert forms that have come about in the modern ‘technical’ age - for instance telephone, radio, and gramophone concerts - have abolished the traditional performance situation where musicians and the audience are gathered in the same hall. The telephone concert was a ‘distance concert’ where musicians played into a microphone in one location while the listeners were gathered at a different place receiving the musical production by means of loudspeakers. Applause was superfluous since the performers were not present with the audience. It could even happen - depending on the technical setup at the time around 1900 - that the ‘concertgoers’ (wearing headphones) would be isolated from each other, as in a radio or gramophone concert : “Entering a radio listening room in which so many listeners sit armed with headphones, one will immediately perceive the difference from a concert hall. There is no general sounding together, no mutual exciting of emotions. Each person remains closed off from the others. His hearing becomes a private matter.”. (Wolfgang Martini, “Radio und Musik”, 1925 Henry W. Schwab)
Source : Schwab, Henry W. (2005), “The Phenomenon of Concert Applause — Interactions between institution, ritual and musical genre”, In “The cultural heritage of medieval rituals: genre and ritual”, by Eyolf Østrem, Museum Tusculanum Press, pp. 211-250.
Source : Martini, Wolfgang (1925), “Radio und Musik”, in Deutsche Musikpflege, ed. by Josef Ludwig Fischer, Frankfurt a.M. : Bühnenvolksbund.

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