History of Listening

Emmy Noether Research Group

Experimental Turntablism – Music with Second Hand Technology

Karin Weissenbrunner

In the last decades, as a result of innovations in technology, modes of human perception have changed dramatically. Multi-media events and virtual realities have become everyday phenomena. This is especially true in music. Consider, for example, visualizations or synaesthetic connections of sound. Tendencies in concert performances and artistic representations which are meant to reflect – indeed, even irritate – subjective consciousness or totalize subjective experience reveal the consequences, the impact of technologies. This impact is most clearly seen in the live concerts of experimental forms of turntablism. In this musical genre the turntable is used as a compositional and performing device – an instrument. Concerts with technological means of performing, especially playback equipment for recorded media, can comprise media-specific components and enrich the purely acoustical component with additional perceptual dimensions.

My thesis will show that it is not possible to perceive a fully sensual and medial meaning by only listening. In the live-situation special conditions such as unique medial influences and interdependencies between performer, music production and media play an important role in the listening experience that cannot be transmitted on a record. My research highlights these special conditions of reception in live concerts featuring examples of experimental turntablism that incorporate media-specific components. I interpret the contextual relevance with special reference to listening practice. The project investigates the turntable because of its long history, especially the experiments with gramophones.

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