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Title:Sound conversations: print media, player pianos, and early radio in the United States
Author(s):Wolter, Catherine Hennessy
Director of Research:Bashford, Christina
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bashford, Christina
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Magee, Gayle Sherwood; Magee, Jeffrey; Chambers, Jason
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Player piano
Print media
Sound technology
Abstract:While historians frequently identify early twentieth-century sound technologies, such as the phonograph, as playing an important role in the march towards more passive, homogenized, and commoditized ways of interacting with music and sound, these ends reveal little of the means. This dissertation focuses on two sound technologies, the player piano and radio, in two discrete case studies. Both case studies utilize a range of print media sources—from the popular Saturday Evening Post to the specialized trade magazine the Player-Piano—and center on a span of years that were significant within the cultural and commercial development of either technology. Individual chapters explore one or two early twentieth-century periodicals in depth, using their player-piano and radio advertisements, editorials, humor pages, stories, non-fiction articles, and periodical contexts to present rich and complementary views of the two technologies. Throughout, I emphasize content creators (ranging from ad makers to editors) and the divergent goals that drove their work. The multi-perspective narrative that results highlights the push-and-pull of meaning around the player piano and radio as their popularity grew among the American public. This dissertation has two central objectives. At its most basic, it aims to contribute to our understanding of these two technologies during largely unexplored parts of their histories. The contrasting mainstream and specialty periodicals included in its analysis generate a diversely contextualized picture of conversations that surrounded the player piano and radio. Its second, broader goal is to highlight and explore commercial influences in early twentieth-century musical life, and the various ways they intersected with cultural discourses and agendas.
Issue Date:2016-07-13
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Catherine Wolter
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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