hh.sePublications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Running the Script through the Machine: The Player Piano as a Gender-Political Instrument
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Contexts and Cultural Boundaries (KK).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4453-945X
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Launched at the turn of the twentieth century, the semi-mechanical player piano opened up canonical music to new audiences by sidestepping musical literacy. In contrast to other more or less contemporary technical appliances for recording and reproducing sound, the player piano granted its operator the freedom of individual expression. While the machine produced the notes, the performer was at liberty to modify the tempo and the expression. Due to this manipulation of the original score, it became a gender-political instrument. As such, it had a significant effect on the perception, performance and appreciation of music, and thus implicitly on the fictional treatment of these phenomena.

The argument in this paper is built on the notion that the composer’s script as encapsulated in the piano roll could be subjected to such a highly individual treatment that almost a new composition emerged in the process. My first fictional example is from E. M. Forster’s posthumously published Maurice (1971) in which the potential for new gender perspectives that the player piano could provide is glimpsed but rejected. It is argued that it was as great an anomaly to break against heteronormativity as to distort sonata form in Edwardian society. My next two examples demonstrate how the player piano facilitated self-expression and individuality for women performers. Both Lucy Honeychurch in Forster’s A Room with a View (1908) and Miriam Henderson in Dorothy Richardson’s Pointed Roofs (1915) challenge Beethoven’s iconic status and musical form by manipulating the male script and exploring a new pianistic behaviour informed by the mechanical discourse. In my concluding discussion, I will illustrate how the player piano was also a tool for a masculinisation of Chopin’s music. Here I will be referring to Henry Handel Richardson’s Maurice Guest (1908) and James Huneker’s Melomaniacs (1902). 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
Keyword [en]
fiction, music, modernism, technology, media
National Category
Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-28100OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-28100DiVA: diva2:805411
Conference
Modernist Musics and Political Aesthetics, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 8-10 April, 2015
Available from: 2015-04-15 Created: 2015-04-15 Last updated: 2015-08-25Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Björkén-Nyberg, Cecilia
By organisation
Contexts and Cultural Boundaries (KK)
Humanities

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

Total: 141 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf