Wagner: Tristan and Isolde, Liebestod Aria The notion of surrendering to death, love is very late 19th century
[Original Cast from 1865]
In the billowing torrent in the resonating sound / in the waftig universe of the wrold-breadth / drown, be engulfed / unconscious / supreme delight
Of course in 1865 there are no recordings - the only way to hear this aria was to see a performance, which Wagner tightly controlled. Wagner coins the term Gesamtkunstwerk. Very explicit stage directions.
Wagner was the first to turn down the house lights. Earlier, people would walk around, socialise etc. Also, the orchestra is hidden (Beyreuth is built to do this). You can’t see where the music comes from - it seems to be coming out of the air (an idea which we’re used to now). In Wagner, it’s all about the performance.
In 1876 Edison introduces the phonograph. Up until this, there was no way to preserve sound - performance, conversation, recitation is gone the instant it appears.
Suddenly, sound (and therefore being) can suddenly be made permanent.
[analogue record microscope]
Scientific American (1876): Speech has become, as it were, immortal
Music was very low down on Edison’s selling points for the phonograph.
[His master’s voice]
[Edison phonograph doll]
Recording anything on an Edison cylinder is very hard - hence why early stars of records were opera singers and train conductors. A recording of your voice allows you get outside of your own head.
Arthur Rimbaud: Letter (1871)
For I is another. If brass wakes up a bugle, it is not its fault. That is obvious to me: I witness the unfolding of my though: I watch iy, I listen to it@ I make a stroke fo the bow: the symphony makes movement into the deptha, or comes in one leap upon the stage.
Rilke (1919): Primal Sound talks about how he built a phonograph in school in the late 19th century. Later he realises how the lines in the skull look like groves in a record (if you actually do this it sounds terrible).
“Record your own voice” machines were a thing into the 1950s. [Sally and Betsy]
Freud on recording devices: He notices that people talk into a recording device in a very formal way - Freud want the jokes, slips, misunderstandings to understand people’s psyche.
Civilization and its Discontents (1930):
In the camera he has created an instrument tat captures evanescent visual impressions, while the grammophone record does the same for equally fleeting auditory impressions: Both are essent
Polluted soundwaves: Noise pollution has all kinds of negative consequences. We’ve been phsycologically and also physiologically changed by recorded sounds. Responses:
- Christian Marclay (2009): 2000 discarded records
- The Anechoic Chamber. John Cage discovers that there is no silence: The high one was your nervous system in operation, the low is your blood circulation. Cage: “Until I die, there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death.”