Hugh Davies’s Electronic Music Documentation, 1961-68
This week’s research seminar in Lecture Theatre 1 of the School of Music will take place at 4.30pm on Thursday 30th October.
The speaker is Dr James Mooney (University of Leeds).
In this research seminar I will provide an account and interpretation of Hugh Davies’s electronic music research and documentation from the period 1961–1968. I will argue that Davies, particularly via his International Electronic Music Catalog (published 1968), characterised electronic music for the first time as a truly international, interdisciplinary praxis, whereas in the preceding literature the full extent of that international, interdisciplinary scope had been represented only partially, and in a way that was heavily biased in favour of the ostensibly ‘main’ Western European and North American schools. I will demonstrate this with reference to a range of published sources dating from 1952–1962, which represented the praxis of electronic music as somewhat fragmented and parochial, and to a range of Davies’s published and unpublished writings, which conveyed a sense of the various international, aesthetic, and disciplinary threads coalescing into an apparently coherent whole. I will also provide an interpretation of Davies’s motivations for representing electronic music in this way, which has to do with his belief in international and interdisciplinary exchange as catalysts for the development of the electronic idiom. Many subsequent publications rely upon the data provided in the Catalog, which continues to be, arguably, the most complete record of international, interdisciplinary electronic music activity up to the end of 1967. I will give some examples that illustrate the influence of the Catalog upon subsequent studies, concluding that further work is needed in order to fully understand and evaluate the historiographic consequences of the Catalog’s influence upon discourses of electronic music history.