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Sound Knowledge : Music and Science in London, 1789-1851 (Hardcover)

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This volume of collected essays addresses music and science in London during the first half of the long nineteenth century, from Charles Burney’s four-volumeHistory of Music (1776-89) to the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851. In chapters devoted to these monumental and complementary endeavors, as well as to diverse instruments of music and science, and to the musico-scientific activities of Adam Walker, Thomas Young, Charles Wheatstone and Charles Babbage, the authors ask what sort of object music was understood to be, and how sonic and musical practices, performers and performances, instruments and technologies figured in the history of disciplinary knowledge. In particular, the book explores how scientific truth was accrued by means of visual and aural experience, and in turn how musical knowledge was located in relation to sensuous scientific practice. The book’s findings show that concern for music and concern for science were often one and the same; the differences between “optical” and “auditory” inquiry, between “music” and “science,” between what counted as “musical performance” and what counted as “scientific performance” were often difficult to define. And though the chapters bear witness to the progressive disciplining of the arts and sciences, nonetheless, the main finding of the volume as a whole is that the visual, the aural, and the tangible mattered together in London throughout this period in the creation of both musical and scientific knowledge. The authors argue that Burney’sHistory of Music marked a major epistemological shift in the kind of “object of knowledge” music was understood to be, bringing along with it new methodologies for its study and classification akin to the taxonomies assembled by Joseph Banks and William Herschel for the study of the natural sciences. Not unlike his scientist friends, Burney sought to create a comprehensive account of music through first-hand observation of musical performance and its instruments. The authors also bring to light and explore connections between discoveries in the field of acoustics and long-distance communication and the invention of new musical instruments, from the Eidouranion to the concertina. They show how musical and scientific instruments might feature alongside one another in London’s culture of amusements during the years around 1800, and how the renewed scientific interest in the analogy between tones and colors influenced how music was perceived and presented to the public. Furthermore, they look to the ways in which musical and scientific devices invented in Victorian London were put to use in British colonial encounters by non-conformist scientists and music theorists who searched for an “Instrument of Instruments,” a device sensitive to all non-Western scale systems and a notational system capable of recordi
Number of Pages: 257
Genre: Music, History, Science
Sub-Genre: History
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
Language: English
Street Date: January 27, 2017
TCIN: 51505529
UPC: 9780226402079
Item Number (DPCI): 248-22-2062

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