Ulrik Volgsten (Örebro SE), Alf Björnberg (Göteborg SE), Toivo Burlin (Dalarna SE) & Tobias Pontara (Göteborg SE): ‘Everyday Devices: Mediatisation, Disciplining and Localisation of Music in Sweden 1900–1970’
The aim of this project is to show how the use of music devices interacted with and changed ideas about music, sound and listening during a period characterized by incessant mediatisation. Focus is on Sweden from 1900 to 1970. The turn of the century marks the beginning of private listening to phonograms, while by 1970 media such as gramophone, film and tape recorders had become part of the everyday lives of most Swedes.
The investigation is designed as four sub-projects, based on four overarching issues that simultaneously complement and mutually illuminate each other. Each sub-project articulates problems that to varying degrees actualize intermedial comparisons. Each highlight re-contextualising and re-mediating practices, as well as mutually influencing changes on cultural macro- and micro-level. Spanning seven decades (with forward glances as well as historical recaps) this project offers a long-term perspective on music practices and processes that are still largely unexplored. The four subprojects respectively focus on:
1) the emergence of the living-room as a central and everyday space in many homes, and how it provided a crucial economical outlet for the musical phonogram. The central question is how the living room became a space for musical listening practices associated with phonography, as compared with other more public spaces and media such as the radio. Allowing alternative histories depending on the specific media being studied, the answers point towards a radical questioning of Western music history, in that listening in everyday life and private spaces has been a largely neglected condition for the perception and apprehension of music.
2) Listening to phonograms was an activity that for a long time went hand-in-hand with home recording. Here the central issue is home based sound-production activities contributed to changes in the perception and apprehension of sound, music and listening. In addition, the question is raised in which everyday spaces this "other" activity (home recording) took place and how it was distinguished from the "first" activity in both spatial/practical and ideological/content respects.
3) Solitary listening to music in one’s private living room was far from an obvious activity during the first decades of the 20th century; generally, music was still a social activity. The study aims to identify the processes (discursive, disciplinary, etc.) that eventually lead to music's dominance as a content-category on the phonogram market. The central question is how the genre-classifications of the phonogram market, as well as what was written in advertising, newspapers and magazines, affected notions of how home-listening should be pursued, and of what (i.e. what kind of object) one was listening to.
4) This part of the project aims to show how sound film both reflected and came to serve as an important prerequisite for a range of new listening habits and attitudes that emerged in Sweden between 1930 and 1960. How did sound film – through its intermediation and representation of music devices and listening behaviour in everyday spaces and situations – influence the mediatisation-. Displining-, and localization processes that music underwent in Sweden during the studied period?
By focusing on appliances, spaces and beliefs about music, in Sweden between 1900 and 1970, the project will contribute important knowledge about an area concerning many, but unknown to most: how our perception and apprehension of music affect and is affected by music’s mediatisation, disciplining and localization.
2015. 16- p.
Mediatisation of Culture and Everyday Life: An international research workshop Hotel Skeppsholmen Stockholm Sweden 23–24 April 2015