NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1910 __ Early experiments in Grammophonmusik
Alexander Dillmann (?-?)
Comment : An early hint of the possibilities of "Grammophonmusik" came in a 1910 article in the Berlin journal "Die Stimme". Contemplating the grooves of a record, Alexander Dillmann wondered if it would be possible to create music with a phonograph not by recording sound but by engraving discs manually. [...] Dillmann reasoned that if a skillful engraver could etch a blank record so that the grooves should, when played, "exactly" reproduce those arias, even though no human voice was used to create a disc. Furthermore, if the grooves on a prerecorded disc could be manually replicated, it should then be possible to create entirely new performances, ones that would exist only on record. And if the human voice could be imitated in this way, the voice could also be extended beyond human capabilities. In essence, Dillmann was suggesting a pre-electronic form of musical synthesis in which the sound of a voice or instrument is created through artificial means. (Mark Katz)
Original excerpt : « There is, however, something strange about this puzzling engraving on the black disc before us. Engraving: yes, that's what it is, though an engraver could never imitate this soundwave-engraving. Really never ? A crazy thought: why couldn't we go backward just as we go forward? Through the impressions of the soundwaves, the warm wax is given a form that is translated through the [reproducing] apparatus, and its form commes into tonal life. The voice has become "materialized". With a microscope, we can see its image, as good as anything that human art has created. What until now floated intangibly in space has gained form. What if we, without soundwaves, could create the same or similar form through purely mechanical means? Wouldn't this open the possibility of designing on such a disc a singer of an unlimited range and timbre ? (note10). »
Source : Dillmann, Alexander (1910), “Das Grammophon,” Die Stimme seines Herrn 1, No. 5, 1910, pp.10–11.
Source : Katz, Mark (2004), "Capturing sound: how technology has changed music", Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 104.
Source : Straebel, Volker (2009), "From Reproduction to Performance: Media-Specific Music for Compact Disc", Leonardo Music Journal - Volume 19, 2009, pp. 23-30.

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