Patterns of Sociohistorical Interaction Between Musical Identity and Technology

Linson, Adam (2017). Patterns of Sociohistorical Interaction Between Musical Identity and Technology. In: MacDonald, Raymond; Hargreaves, David and Miell, Dorothy eds. Handbook of Musical Identities. Oxford Scholarship Online. Oxford University Press, pp. 403–419.



The sociotechnological model presented in this chapter aims to bring to the fore interrelationships among musical instrument technologies, performance techniques, aesthetics, and social conditions, and suggests that this complex network forms part of the background against, which varied senses of musical identity emerge. To outline the model, I give a brief, but sweeping history of bowed string instruments, and also draw on a broader historical account of the origins of musical instruments. Then, to demonstrate the applicability of the model, I present a similarly potted history of the piano. The subsequent section covers mid-twentieth-century musical technologies from the same perspective, followed by a section on current musical technologies, both of which focus primarily on performance. The chapter concludes with thoughts on the future implications of the current situation in music technology with respect to socialities such as musical identity.

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