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Science-Technology and the Audio-Visual Transformation of the Romantic Music

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2015, 43(), pp.123-154
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : February 28, 2015

Min Jung Son 1

1대전대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper tries to understand the relations between the industrial revolution and Romantic music, especially focusing on the relations between the scientific and technological advancement led by the industrial revolution and the audio-visual transformation of the romantic music. This paper consists of three parts. The first part examines the invention and the innovation applied to musical instruments in the 19th century, since one the of the most crucial periods in the history of music instruments in terms of the technological aspects is the romantic era. This research analyzes the transformation of horn and timpani, recognizing them as the most noticeable examples that can explain the effects of science and technology on music. The second part deals with Charles Babbage's optics, Leonhard Euler's music theory on chords, and Wagner's technologically equipped operas. Based upon a thesis proposed by media theorist Friedrich Kittler, this research deliberately examines the intertwined relations among them. Babbage accidentally found a way to project colorful lights onto the stage, and composed a ballet blanc to utilize this newly invented optical technology. Although the ballet was not materialized on the stage due to the director's concern about a possible fire, it eventually affected the audio-visual transformation realized by Wagner, according to Kittler. As for Euler's theory on the consonance, a chord contains overtones that spread over three and four octaves, including 7th notes. Influenced by the theory of chords, Wagner developed dissonant chord progressions to express a wide range of emotions. The third part examines how the popular science of the 19th century and the fantasy novels of those times were combined in the Meyerbeer's grand operas. The positivism of popular science in the 19th century promoted popular performances of the science and technology in the public, especially in the concert hall. As asserted by a historian of science and technology, John Tresch, popular science and Meyerbeer's grand opera of fantasy novels have the same purposes to stimulate the human senses, creating hallucinations caused by habits. Tracing back to Maine de Biran(1766-1824), a French philosopher, Tresch has found connections between the positivism and Meyerbeer's operas. In sum, the audio-visual transformations in the romantic music were closely related to the contemporary science and technology.

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