Memory Machines or Musical Instruments? Soundscapes, Recording Technology and Reference

R.J. Benschop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


According to r. Murray shafer, recording technology is both a crucial tool to preserve endangered sounds, and a threat to such sounds. This ambiguity raises the question of how the role of recording technology should be understood. In this article, i examine this role in a recent soundscape production called alle namen. First i discuss historical work presenting a shift in the use of recording technology from a memory machine aiming to reconstruct live performances as faithfully as possible, to a musical instrument used to create new musical experiences. Particularly in the context of artistic soundscapes, recording technology is understood to have a distinctly creative role. My analysis of alle namen, however, shows that recording technology is not unequivocally used as memory machine. Rather, without drawing attention to the technologically mediated nature of the performance itself, alle namen records a lost present rather than a lost past. •.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-502
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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