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: