Main Article Content
By the early twentieth century the machine aesthetic was a well-established and dominant interest. While this aesthetic has been examined in art and in literature, the representation of industrial labor practices and the role of the machine in musical compositions remain largely unexplored. In this article, I use labor theory to frame a discussion of a musical topic of the mechanical in various musical examples from the United States and Europe in the 1910s, 20s, and 30s. Each example imitates, showcases, or features the sounds of the machine, and illuminates the ways in which industrialized labor influenced music. I organize the machine sounds into three categories: music written to sound like or imitate the machine, music written to highlight the skills of virtuoso performers while also showcasing what the machine can do, and music written specifically for machines. These categories encompass a wide variety of performing bodies, audiences, and spaces, evidencing the ubiquitous presence of the machine aesthetic in early twentieth-century music culture. As the discussion of the examples in each part will show, the prevalence of machine sounds in music indicates the widespread influence of industrialization and its culturally dominant ideology, Frederick Winslow Taylor’s system of scientific management.
Copyright © 2019 by the Society for Music Theory. All rights reserved.
 Copyrights for individual items published in Music Theory Online (MTO) are held by their authors. Items appearing in MTO may be saved and stored in electronic or paper form, and may be shared among individuals for purposes of scholarly research or discussion, but may not be republished in any form, electronic or print, without prior, written permission from the author(s), and advance notification of the editors of MTO.
 Any redistributed form of items published in MTO must include the following information in a form appropriate to the medium in which the items are to appear:
This item appeared in Music Theory Online in [VOLUME #, ISSUE #] on [DAY/MONTH/YEAR]. It was authored by [FULL NAME, EMAIL ADDRESS], with whose written permission it is reprinted here.
 Libraries may archive issues of MTO in electronic or paper form for public access so long as each issue is stored in its entirety, and no access fee is charged. Exceptions to these requirements must be approved in writing by the editors of MTO, who will act in accordance with the decisions of the Society for Music Theory.
This document and all portions thereof are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Material contained herein may be copied and/or distributed for research purposes only.