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CREATING A HOME CULTURE FOR THE PHONOGRAPH: WOMEN AND THE RISE OF SOUND RECORDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1877-1913

Bowers, Nathan David (2007) CREATING A HOME CULTURE FOR THE PHONOGRAPH: WOMEN AND THE RISE OF SOUND RECORDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1877-1913. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This dissertation explains processes of change and adaptation undergone by the early phonographs and talking machines, documenting social and musical forces through which consumers and businessmen shaped an in-home culture for sound recordings during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a force for change in music in the home, the early phonograph embraced middle-class ideologies exemplified in the parlor of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries in order to create a domestic market. Early phonograph companies realized that women maintained and managed the affairs of the parlor, deciding what items were purchased for display and what activities were morally acceptable. Other responsibilities included controlling the household funds and providing music education in the home. For these reasons, the developing recording industry targeted women as a specific consumer group ensuring the success of the talking machine and creation of an "in-home" culture for pre-recorded music in America, one that continues to affect the way we consume music today.Initially designed as a speech recorder, Edison's invention was viewed by the majority of Americans as a machine without daily application. Instead, the phonograph needed to be identified as a perfected instrument, a piece of parlor furniture, and a device capable of saving housewives time, labor and money. By providing pre-recorded music in the form of discs, this device replaced playing and singing around the piano in the home. Opera arias were featured in the early phonograph advertisements since they represented the "best music," sung by the "greatest singers," and provided an instant source of culture, quality entertainment, education and social status for those who purchased the pre-recorded discs. Capitalizing on the "prima-donna" complex prevalent among young women of the time, the early recording industry also promised superior voice lessons by the greatest singers on repeatable discs. Finally, the early phonograph companies placed a high priority on music appreciation. The ability to enjoy "quality music" and discuss merits of a particular piece became an important display of musical ability, one as relevant and refined as actual playing and singing.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bowers, Nathan Davidndbst13@pitt.edundbst13@pitt.edu
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRoot, Deanedlr@pitt.edudlr@pitt.edu
Committee MemberFranklin, Dondof@pitt.edudof@pitt.edu
Committee MemberLewis, Marylsm@pitt.edulsm@pitt.edu
Committee MemberBroyles, Michaelbroyles@psu.edubroyles@psu.edu
Date: 29 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 February 2007
Approval Date: 29 June 2007
Submission Date: 17 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: 19th-century music making; labor saving device; labor-saving device; nineteenth-century music making; perfected instrument; Victorian consumers; advertising history; history
Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-04172007-223647/, etd-04172007-223647
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 08 May 2012 16:14
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/7250

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