New writing on music, technology and culture

Three publications arrived through the post this month. Each includes some of my writing on music, technology and culture:

Material Culture and Electronic Sound is a new book from the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, edited by Frode Weium and Tim Boon, with a forward by Brian Eno. This is a beautiful book, with many photographs, and articles on the Auxetophone, technology and apparent effort in performance, the use of rediscovered objects in music making, the Oramics machine, the early reception of the Hammond organ and more. I’ve written a chapter on musicians’ early attitudes to drum machines and samplers, comparing the introduction of these machines to the early days of talking pictures. The book includes contributions from Katy Price, David Toop, Mick Grierson, Aleks Kolkowski, Tim Boon, Frode Weium and several other researchers with a particular interest in sound.

Working with performer and theatre historian Caroline Radcliffe, I’ve also contributed a paper to the journal Performance Research. Our paper concerns a Lancashire heel-and-toe clog dance from the nineteenth century in which female dancers directly mimicked the loom, mule, shuttle, governor and other mill machines around them. It was written for a special edition of the journal on labour. The full title of the paper is:

Challenging the automaton: Repetitive labour and dance in the industrial workspace, Caroline Radcliffe and Sarah Angliss. Performance Research, Volume 17 Issue 6, 2013.

Finally, I’ve written a few words on The Bird Fancyer’s Delight and the practice of using trained birds to bring music into the home before the invention of the phonograph. This article appears in Dutch translation inĀ Blockfluitist.

If you’d like to know a little more about these topics, do check out the above publications. There are also some audience friendly versions of this material, presented with non-specialists in mind, in my TEDx talk Loving the Machine and my BBC Radio 4 documentary The Bird Fancyer’s Delight (which includes an appearance from fellow Material Culture and Electronic Sound author Aleks Kolkowski).


See a list of all my recent writing on music, technology and culture.