Exposition

Space is the Place: The Electronic Sounds of Inner and Outer Space (2014)

Trevor Pinch

About this exposition

In this paper I examine the new sorts of tonalities produced by electronic music and how they became associated with the theme of space. Sound was an important topic in early science fiction writing. Furthermore, 1950s-era science fiction movies used electronic tones to capture the vastness of space and the other-worldliness of aliens. Electronic tones, such as produced by the Theremin, were also used in movies of this period to accompany moments of mental instability. Sound itself, and weird sounds in particular, were used to portray unusual and strange mental powers. These associations took on new valences as the space age unfolded, in the years following the launch of the first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. Domestic space in US households became an important site for the consumption of sound with the new burgeoning High Fidelity (Hi-Fi) craze. Special genres of music for hi-fi, such as exotica and space age pop, reinforced the notion of space as gendered “other” and largely feminine. The domestic space of musical consumption changed with communal living and the emergence of the counter culture in the 1960s and the new possibilities of electronic tonalities provided by the first commercial electronic music synthesizers. Outer space exploration and the search for inner space were combined into new forms of spacey music, which were often consumed in collective spaces such as “gatherings of the tribes”, festivals, “be ins” and communal “happenings”. Whether it be Jefferson Starship’s attempt to “highjack the starship”, British band Hawkwind’s use of the sound of synthesizers “in search of space”, or Sun Ra’s early use of the Moog synthesizer with his Solar Arkestra to declare “space is the place” – electronic sounds and their association with space had become part of a dystopian critique of Planet Earth.
typeresearch exposition
date24/11/2014
published01/12/2014
last modified01/12/2014
statuspublished
share statusprivate
licenseAll rights reserved
urlhttps://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/108499/108500
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue8.


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id name copyright license
108586 pinch_fig_12 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108582 pinch_fig_11 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108579 pinch_fig_10 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108577 Text Vincent Meelberg All rights reserved
108573 pinch_fig_9 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108546 pinch_fig_8 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108543 pinch_fig_7 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108539 pinch_fig_6 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108535 pinch_fig_5 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108532 pinch_fig_4 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108526 pinch_fig_3 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108523 pinch_fig_2 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108520 pinch_fig_1 Trevor Pinch All rights reserved
108510 JSS Banner Journal of Sonic Studies All rights reserved

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