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1925 __ « Mr. Bloom and the Cyclops »
George Antheil (1900-1959)
Comment : In 1925 George Antheil proposed using a "phoneygraph" to create a phantom orchestra offsetting an actual orchestra in his unfinished "Mr. Bloom and the Cyclops", based on James Joyce's Ulysses. (Douglas Kahn)The origins of Turntablism go as far back as 1922 when Darius Milhaud was tampering with phonograph speeds. At this same point in time, Paul Hindemith and Ernst Toch superimposed phonograph recordings, employed variations in speed, pitch, height, and acoustic timbre, which was not possible in a real performance. One could also argue that Ottorino Respighi and George Antheil contributed to the art form as well by including the use of phonographs as an added instrument in their compositions. Their use of manipulating the recorded music was very minimal, if at all existent, which makes one question whether or not they could be justified as Turntablists. Edgard Varèse experimented with heavily manipulating sound recordings by playing records backwards in 1936. John Cage revolutionized music in 1939 with “Imaginary Landscape No. 1”, a piece written for 2 variable-speed phono turntables, frequency recordings, muted piano, and cymbal. The purpose of this paper is to discuss these events in detail and prove that the first Turntablists were Milhaud, Hindemith, Toch, Respighi, Antheil, Varèse, and Cage. [...] George Antheil grew up in Germany, later lived in the Unites States, and then eventually moved to France. Antheil studied piano and later received formal instruction in composition. Although he often received a poor reaction from audiences who attended the performance of his works, he proved to be an innovative artist and celebrated many wonderful accomplishments. Among them were operas, orchestral works, chamber music, and music for film. One such work was a classical piece titled Mr. Bloom and the Cyclops and was written using brilliant and intriguing ideas involving the phonograph. This opera, although never realized, was a very important contribution to the world of Turntablism. Mr. Bloom and the Cyclops was one of only three multi-instrument works that involved Turntablism prior to 1945. The other two were Respighi's Pines of Rome and Cage's Imaginary Landscape No. 1. Mr. Bloom and the Cyclops was written for voice, instrumental ensemble, and phonograph. This was written in between 1924 and 1925 and it is no coincidence that this, like The Pines of Rome, appeared soon after Milhaud's discover of Turntablism. (David James Cramer, “The Origins of Turntablism”)
Source : Kahn, Douglas (1990), “Audio Art in the Deaf Century”, In “Sound by Artists”, edited by Dan Lander and Micah Lexier, Toronto : Art Metropole : Banff : Walter Phillips Gallery, 1990, pp. 301-309.
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