Experimental Cylinders – Experiments in Music Psychology around 1900 (2017)

Julia Kursell

About this exposition

This article asks how the availability of recording in the sound archive changed the way in which researchers and music listeners related to musical performance. I focus on a study of intonation that Otto Abraham carried out between 1906 and 1923 at the Phonogramm-Archiv in Berlin and that he published in a Festschrift for Carl Stumpf. Abraham conjectured that individuals experience their singing as correct, even when measurement demonstrates that they have actually deviated strongly from the values required by musical notation. As he was able to demonstrate through a series of recordings of singing individuals, this also holds for professional singers and those with absolute pitch. I suggest that the singing of one amusical subject was critical in bringing melodic contour, as a Gestalt quality of song, to the fore as an answer to Abraham's problem, because the recording allowed this individual to articulate his listening in addition to his singing.
typeresearch exposition
keywordsexperimental recording, Phonogramm-Archiv Berlin, melodic contour, Gestalt theory, Otto Abraham, Carl Stumpf, Journal of sonic studies, sound, Sonic Studies
last modified19/01/2017
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue13.
connected toJournal of Sonic Studies

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