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Rhythmicon (c) Andrey Smirnov

In the late nineteenth century two facts conspired to change the face of music: the collapse of common practice tonality (which overturned the certainties underpinning the world of art music), and the invention of a revolutionary new form of memory, sound recording (which redefined and greatly empowered the world of popular music).

A tidal wave of probes and experiments into new musical resources and new organisational practices ploughed through both disciplines, bringing parts of each onto shared terrain before rolling on to underpin a new aesthetics able to follow sound and its manipulations beyond the narrow confines of ‘music’. This series tries analytically to trace and explain these developments, and to show how, and why, both musical and post-musical genres take the forms they do.

In PROBES #33 we begin to trace the impact of the application of electricity on the world of music and look more closely at the Musical Telegraph, the two-hundred-ton Telharmonium (a 19th century mechanical synthesizer) in America, as well as the Theremin and the visionary Rhythmicon in the USSR.

Curated by Chris Cutler
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