Rogers, Holly. 2022. Instruments. In: Tom Perchard; Stephen Graham; Tim Rutherford-Johnson and Holly Rogers, eds. Twentieth Century Music in the West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 202-226. ISBN 9781108481984 [Book Section]

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This is the first introductory survey of western twentieth-century music to address popular music, art music and jazz on equal terms. It treats those forms as inextricably intertwined, and sets them in a wide variety of social and critical contexts. The book comprises four sections – Histories, Techniques and Technologies, Mediation, Identities – with 16 thematic chapters. Each of these explores a musical or cultural topic as it developed over many years, and as it appeared across a diversity of musical practices. In this way, the text introduces both key musical repertoire and critical-musicological approaches to that work. It historicises music and musical thinking, opening up debate in the present rather than offering a new but closed narrative of the past. In each chapter, an overview of the topic's chronology and main issues is illustrated by two detailed case studies.

‘I happen to think that computers are the most important thing to happen to musicians since the invention of cat-gut which was a long time ago’ (Moog, in Williamson 1990). Electronic music pioneer Robert Moog’s (1934–2005) words point to the two main stories of instrument development in the twentieth century. One was concerned with newness and saw traditional instruments undergo transformation through extended performance techniques, electrification and amplification and the creation of brand-new devices. Equally radical, the other was concerned with the past. Focusing on preservation, it saw renewed interest in ancient and early instrument restoration (and a return to cat-gut strings), performance practice and musicological research. While it is tempting to establish a stark binary between these two stories, in many cases we will find that a rich dialogue flowed between them.

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1 January 2022Accepted
1 September 2022Published

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17 Nov 2022 16:28

Last Modified:

02 May 2024 11:23


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