Instrumentalising Electronic Sound, 1945-75




The post-WW2 decades were a period of extraordinary innovation in electronic sound.

Technologies developed during the war were repurposed in peace-time, creating several new paradigms for the instrumental
control of electronic sound, including the tape-based electronic music studio, the voltage-controlled
synthesizer, the computer as musical instrument, and the ‘DIY’ genre of live electronic music.

What explains this heterogeneity? What were the socio-material processes that led to such remarkably divergent approaches
to the instrumentalisation of electronic sound?

This research will answer these questions via a comparative study of collections of electronic sound instruments in European and North American museums. The findings will shed new light upon the experimental history of now familiar technologies like synthesizers and digital audio workstations.

They will be used to develop new approaches to the interpretation and display of
electronic sound instruments in public exhibitions, and new methods for using these instruments as primary
sources in research.