Monday, October 29, 2007

Robots vs. Musicians (1931)


This ad from the March 9, 1931 Simpson's Leader-Times (Kittanning, PA) is in no way subtle. The consequences of using recorded music at theatre performances rather than live musicians are, "Monotony in the theatre - corruption of taste - destruction of art." Yikes.


Here is a struggle of intense interest to all music lovers. If the Robot of Canned Music wrests the helm from the Muse, passengers aboard the good ship Musical Culture may well echo the offer of Gonzalo to trade "a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of ground." Are you content to face a limitless expanse of "sound" without a sign of music?

Monotony in the theatre - corruption of taste - destruction of art. These must inevitably follow substitution of mechanical music for living music.

Millions of Music Defense League members cordially invite you to join them in putting the Robot in his place. Just sign and mail the coupon.

See also:
The Future is Now (1955)
All the Music of the Centuries (1908)
"I Can Whip Any Mechanical Robot" by Jack Dempsey (1930s)
The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Mammy vs Robot (Charleston Gazette, 1937)

7 comments:

Clare said...

In E. F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia books (set in the 1930s), Lucia complains about recorded music and how corrupting it is. She loves to play the piano to edify her friends, so I imagine the gramophone must have been a bit of a threat.

Matt said...

They're right you know.

From Milli Vanilli to Britney Spears.

Oh if only we'd listened!

Cory The Raven said...

I wonder... Considering that many people think that the only "real" music is that which is performed by musical professionals and sold on CD (or traded illicitly, to the chagrin of the professionals), they may not be far off. Of course, they were arguing against the advent of sound in motion pictures specifically, since it imposed on their professional field, but the broader point is there. How many of us gather around the family piano anymore?

Wutzke said...

I suppose it's an issue of quality and consistency versus immediacy and intimacy.

With soundtracks, directors are able to realize (and control) their "vision" of the movie, and in genearl the audience is exposed to a higher-quality level of sound. Soundtrack by John Williams and the London Symphony vs. the guys from down at the firehouse who also play banjo in their spare time.

Tom Wayburn said...

Stravinski pointed out that the purpose of recorded music is to provide a record of how the composer wanted his music to be conducted; therefore, the only legitimate phonograph records are recordings of classical music from the score with the composer conducting. The former dean of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University commented to me privately that at least half of the people graduating from Rice University had never heard music in their lives. I cannot turn the sound on when I watch baseball on TV because of the horrible noise that is passed off as music.

henque said...

Notice that the evil music robot is black, there is a bit of rascism in the picture as well.

Sergey said...

henque: It's a robot, he's black as in color, not race. They're using black vs. white to represent good vs. evil, not racism.