Radiophonic Music: Compositions – Experiments – Discourses. A Historical-Critical Study

Prof. Dr. Matthias Schmidt
Department of Musicology, University of Basel

Prof. Dr. Camilla Bork (Associated Research Project): Visions and Experiments of Radiophonic Composing in the Weimar Republic (SP B2)

PD Dr. Antje Tumat (Post-Doc Project): The Radio Opera in Post-War-Germany (SP B3)

The worldwide technical revolution brought about through electronic media since the end of the 19th century, in particular through two fundamental media-related upheavals in radio – the opening of the first radio station at the beginning of the 1920s, and the introduction of magnetic audiotape in the electronic studios of radio broadcasters since the end of the 1940s – signifies an important break in the production, distribution and reception of music. It can be assumed that this is as great a caesura as that brought about by the introduction of notation or printed sheet music. The “emancipation of noise” and its inclusion in musical material, the sound of original voice recordings, the generation of synthetic sounds, the new conditions and possibilities in the artistic manipulation of sound material (editing, repetition, reverse playback, overdubbing, etc.) have led to an explosive emergence of virtually unlimited forms of music extending to the genre of audio art. Radio has played a decisive role, not only as an institution and environment for the production of the initial musical radio experiments as well as concrete and electronic works of music, but furthermore as a medium of its distribution. The work of composers in radio studios, in offices of radio experimentation and in electronic studios with new technological means had a dramatic impact on their creative work with sound material. To what extent did the essence of the medium determine the materiality and composition processes of music? Which compositional techniques have been incorporated in the compositional processes of music through the use of the technical means of the radio medium? How did the work in electronic studios and the application of new technologies impact the compositional working processes?