“His Master’s Voice”

William Howland Kenney

in Recorded Music in American Life

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195171778
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849789 | DOI:
                   “His Master’s Voice”

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The history of the phonograph clearly demonstrates important ways in which economic and cultural forces have shaped technological inventions in the world. In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the first functioning prototype of the phonograph, but others subsequently patented major improvements and, in the process, reinvented and reconstructed the phonograph and means of recording sound. In some ways, phonograph technology did determine the broad outlines of sound recording from the popular music in the 1890s to opera in the 1910s. All of the great pioneers of the phonograph industry—Thomas A. Edison; Emile Berliner, inventor of the flat disc; Edward Easton; and Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder and director of the Victor Talking Machine Company—agreed that their invention should become a permanent part of every American home. The Victor Talking Machine Company reinforced the upper and middle levels of an American musical hierarchy in recorded music. This aesthetic stance influenced the initial desire to make records abroad and the subsequent program of recording within the United States for sale to this country's immigrants.

Keywords: Eldridge Reeves Johnson; Victor Talking Machine Company; phonograph; Thomas Edison; recorded music; United States; sound recording; popular music; records

Chapter.  9905 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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