"Should One Applaud?" Breaches and Boundaries in the Reception of New Technology in Music

The debate surrounding the introduction of new musical instruments is examined as a way to elicit norms underlying musical practice and culture. The paper details the introduction of three twentieth century instruments: the player piano, the "noise instruments" of the futurists and the electronic music synthesizer. The responses to these new instruments both among classical performers and in the realm of popular culture reveal how traditional norms of musical creativity associated with personal achievement have been supplemented with new norms of democratized leisure and how with the emergence of the noise instruments and synthesizer a new value has been placed upon "uncertainty recontrolled". The paper explores the tension between continuity and change in regard to these musical norms and values.