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History of Technology of Music

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This file updated 14 October 2014

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1940: Hollywood issue of movie, Tin Pan Alley, much concerned with music.

1941

1941: Death of Polish statesman, pianist and composer, Ignace Jan Paderewski, aged 80.

1942

1942: Writing of famed song White Christmas, which earned singer Bing Crosby a fortune in royalties most Christmases since he recorded it.


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1943

1943: California radio repairman Leo Fender and musician Doc Kaufman build a prototype solid-body guitar resembling the original "frying pan design," but with a better pickup and tone controls. (Chronology of electric guitar)

1944

fire.gif - 12205 BytesEarly 1940s: (From one of HotM's favourite emailers) Many years ago I saw Dick Hughes play a record from the early 40's that was the same tune as Rock around the Clock.

1944: The history of keyboard instruments is poorly documented, till the 1944 publication in Brussels of Ernst Closson's Histoire du Piano. (London, Paul Elek, 1947) Closson has been curator of Museum of Conservatoire Royal in Brussels, and curated one of the richest collections of keyboard instruments in the world.


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1944: Alexander Wood, The Physics of Music. London, 1944.

1944: Birth year of US singer Bobbie Gentry.

15 December 1944: By 17 December 2001 arises theory that famed US bandleader and now army musician, Glenn Miller, became a victim of friendly fire, or, friendly bomb jettisoning. On 15th December, Miller left a south-east England base for Paris in a single-engine Noorduym Norseman aircraft, never to be seen again. Now, filmmakers have claimed that a fleet of 139 returning British Lancasters were returning from an aborted mission to Germany and dumped their bombs into the English Channel - and onto Miller's plane. One of the Lancaster navigators, Fred Shaw, saw the accident.

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1945

In review: Ira Gitler, Jazz Masters of the 40s. 1966.

In review: Ted Goia, West Coast Jazz 1945-1960: Modern Jazz in California. 1992.

In review: Gunther Schuler, The Swing Era, The Development of Jazz 1930-1945. 1989.

In review: Jason Berry, Jonathon Foose, and Tad Jones, Up From The Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since WWII. 1986.

1946

1946: ENIAC - the first electronic digital computer, is switched on.


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1947

1947, Two Bell Lab scientists invent the transistor, an item about as tall as the face of a wristwatch. (By 2001, organic nano-transistors are being worked on)

1947: Birth in Dallas Texas of US rock singer Meatloaf. (Disputes exist about his year of birth.). His father is a salesman, Orvis; his mother is a schoolteacher, Wilma, who dies of cancer in 1967. His first band was named Meat Loaf Soul. His first album is Bat Out Of Hell, released in 1977 and enjoying No. 1 slot on the charts for 400 weeks. Final sales of more than 28 million copies. Meatloaf prior to this has formed a creative combination with a child piano-prodigy and songwriter, Jim Steinman.

bluepin1.gif - 947 Bytes1947: Founding in London of The Galpin Society, celebrating a movement begun by Canon F. W. Galpin, (1858-1945). Galpin was extremely interested in instruments which became obsolete during the eighteenth century, as well as even older forms and fittings for instruments still in use. He was followed by Arnold Dolmetsch. Galpin's view was that the older forms of instruments had a more sonorous character than musicians today can realize... older forms of instruments as well as styles of musical composition had more intensity and variety of expression (Baines, p. 20) within fields of techniques that today seem somewhat narrow, but were fascinating. And so, older (written) music, styles and instruments can be a fruitful study. The outcome of Galpin's work is to modify today's attitudes to instrument building.

1947 is birth year of Ian Anderson, Scots pop singer musician of Jethro Tull.

1948

1948: Co-inventions of the transistor: Herbert F. Matare co-invents the transistor. Scientists at AT&T Bell Laboratories at Murray Hill, New Jersey, won fame and a Nobel Prize for inventing the unit the same year. Two months later, two German physicists independently invented it at Westinghouse lab in Paris - Herbert F. Matare and Heinrich Welker, who used three decades of earlier theoretical work. (See work of Belgian historian, Armand Van Dormael, The Silicon Revolution.) Matare later immigrated to the US and now lives in California working on semiconductors and materials for solar energy applications. He highly compliments the Bell transistor researchers, John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William B. Shockley, all deceased by now. (The transistor is a device that can both amplify an electrical signal and turn it on and off. It shrank the cost and size of electronic switches and made the digital computer possible. Today, the most advanced computer memory chips can contain more than one billion transistors.)

1949

6 December 1949: Death in USA of phenomenal American blues singer and twelve-string guitar maestro, Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter)

1948: Guitar distortion: when did it start?: Thor Christensen suggests that electric guitars were sold from the late 1930s. Musicians noticed electrical malfunctions, and the sounds they made - and some musicians decided to make use of such sounds. In 1948, Muddy Waters in Chicago found a buzz coming out of his guitar while he was recording what became his blues classic, I Can't Be Satisfied. By 1951, at Sun Studios in Memphis, guitarist Willie Kizart dropped his amp and busted a speaker cone. The result was an "unruly hum" as heard on Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats - which track is considered by some rock historians to be the first rock 'n' roll track. In 1956, a half-broken guitar amp buzzed on a hit by Johnny Burnette, Train Kept A-Rollin'. The idea occurred to musicians - why not deliberately damage an amplifier and see what happens? The 1960s saw a race to produce new noises - basically, feedback - and The Beatles used a feedback whine to begin their 1964 hit, I Feel Fine. The legend exists that when one of the early tracks from The Who was sent from London to New York as a first Who master tape ever heard there, it was sent back to London by New York, where studio techs had complained of the distortion on the tape and thought something was wrong, or maybe, someone was playing a trick!

Hendrix started using feedback more in the late 1960s. Later, as Eric Clapton has observed, feedback and variations on it could be used to induce a more mystical sort of sound - as when a guitar might start to sound like a sitar from India. So arose what were called "electronic fuzz boxes". Hubert Sumlin, a guitarist for Howlin' Wolf, learned to hate the wah-wah pedal as "nasty things". By the 1970s, distortion was "normal" for bands like Black Sabbath and The Ramones. In 1975, Lou Reed notoriously used feedback for Metal Machine Noise. Carlos Santana approves of using distortion. Without distortion, what would Jimi Hendrix have sounded like? Where would punk have been, or gone? Same with Metallica. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry says use of distortion makes the guitar sound "more rebellious" - the reason its use has continued. (From an article by Thor Christensen in The Dallas Morning News, as seen in The Australian, 25 June 2004)


bluepin1.gif - 947 BytesLate 1940s-early 1950s: Electronic music: French composers Pierre Shaeffer and Pierre Henry experiment with manipulating the results of recording of natural sounds ("concrete music"), playing it forwards or backwards, looped, or spliced at various speeds. Also using juxtapositions and superimpositions.

1949: Alan Douglas, The Electronic Musical Instrument Manual. London, 1949.

1949: The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific opens on Broadway, New York. Suffice to say, it becomes a classic!


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1950

1950: The Fender company is now manufacturing guitar models, the Esquire, then the Broadcaster, and then the Telecaster. (Chronology of the electric guitar)


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For useful lists of songs songs songs by year. etc – and very impressive – see compilations at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Songs_by_year










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